So, as of a couple days ago, the Nathan For You asexuality episode has aired! Here’s some initial comments after my first watchthrough.
(warning: will contain spoilers for this episode but nothing else in the season, afaik)
The asexual computer repair shop gig makes up the first half of a split episode, at about 9.5 minutes total. You can find the full episode here if you have cable (content warnings for a couple very pixelated implied dick pics, brief discussions of masturbation, and some inaccurate definitions of asexuality. I have not watched the second half so I don’t know if there’s anything warn-worthy): http://www.cc.com/episodes/1xvf7u/nathan-for-you-computer-repair—psychic-season-4-ep-405 There’s also a very very brief clip at the end during the credits.
(ETA: you can also watch the first portion, up through the first client pitch, for free on youtube: https://youtu.be/jf9I04Oa-hU)
The basic premise starts with Nathan (the title character, who thinks up various absurd business proposals for all sorts of businesses as a consultant) is working with a computer repair shop owner, Herman, who has a dilemma: no one believes him when he says he won’t look at his client’s nude photos (he asserts that he can resist because he already saturates all his sexual desires by watching porn at home) – because they still mistrust him as a “sexual being”
Nathan’s proposed solution? “Put the customers at ease by offering the world’s first asexual computer repair service.” Hire some asexual people with no sexual desires and you can assure the customers that their nude pics will be safe!
After interviewing several asexuals and hiring two who don’t react to “stimulating” (but actually pretty SFW) stock photos with spikes in heart rate tests, they get to work in a very silly “desexualized zone” complete with electronic keypad locks and sirens that announce any possible penetration (sorry, I couldn’t resist) by sexual people, and a sealed observation booth for Herman to direct from since he’s the only one actually trained in fixing computers. After a harrowing incident where Herman has to make a dash through the “desexualized zone” to get to the bathroom, with “sexual intruder alert” sirens blaring and an emergency “lockdown protocol” in effect, the repairs are finally completed and both the customer and Herman are satisfied with the new service.
As far as accurate representation of asexuality, it was mixed. On the one hand, they got a lot of basics right – like the 1% figure, and characters literally posting AVEN’s vis/ed forum, but they do deliberately skew the definition a first to better fit with the gag, by initially introducing it as “the 1% of americans who identify as asexual, meaning they have no sexual desires whatsoever”, which we know is not really an accurate definition.
They do later have an asexual character re-define it as “…a lack of sexual attraction, and need for sex is all that asexuality truly is. And there’s a spectrum”, so it sounds like they actually did their research decently well, but just chose to ignore some of it for the sake of plot. Which is….better but also worse?
It did find a way to incorporate asexuality into a comedy show in a non-mean spirited way, which I appreciated. They also didn’t go for the obvious “lying ‘asexual’ actually is weak to porn” gag that a less respectful show might have gone for, and I though they presented the asexual characters fairly respectfully and believably, even when they went into the nerdy ace trope; if anything it spent most of it’s time being rude to the sexual characters.
The asexual cast was definitely very white, but seemed like maybe not exclusively so? (At least to my bad-at-ethnic-boundaries eyes), which is a start I guess, but there’s a long way to go. Four is a lot of faces for one 10 minute skit, though, so that’s a something! But then they do also fall into the “the one token girl(?*) has to be white because you can only be one minority at once” thing, and it’s still nowhere near as much diversity as they could have had in terms of age and other factors (and it totally excludes mentions of aces with libidos for obvious reason).
(*I’m not sure if that particular character was actually a woman or nonbinary or what since I wasn’t able to catch any pronouns)
ETA: so allegedly they recruit real semi-unsuspecting people for this show (which is billed as a “docu-reality show”) but considering the camerawork and the dialogue appears to incredibly scripted (and that the location of the supposed featured business has clearly been changed) I’m a little dubious. I suppose we won’t know unless any of the features aces/actors happen to not be on NDAs and ever decide to blog about it.
As far as the overall humor, I have to admit I did laugh at all the silly antics around the “desexualized” zone, especially the asexuals only sign. All the scenes where Nathan and Herman tried to pitch it to customers, on the other hand, felt pretty strained, although that was largely second hand embarrassment for Herman over the way they presented the “disclaimer: there is a sexual person here” and “so….asexuality” thins.
Overall, once I get past being peeved about the misleading “no arousal” comments, I actually like the rest of how they handled the ace-ness of the ace characters. I’m perhaps also a little more forgiving of the “haha hire aces with no arousal who won’t look at porn” and it’s basis in stereotypes than I would be usually because they manage to make it feel more like the kind of stereotyped jokes that we aces already like to make about ourselves sometimes.
Now, have some screenshots. If I ever figure out how to make proper gifs I’ll post those in a follow up post (and if anyone has gif-making tool recommendations, I’m all ears).
Anyway, you can also find other reviews/reactions here – and share your own in the comments!