It’s just beyond me. relationships, sex, and everything else.
Hearing these remarks in a 2017 Emmerdale moment on television was such a delightful surprise.
The statement made by Isobel Steele’s character Liv Flaherty not only resonated with my own experience, but it also surprised me since I had never heard my orientation—asexuality—discussed on TV before.
Let me explain the meaning of the term “asexual” if you’re not familiar with it.
An asexual person is someone who “does not feel sexual attraction – they are not drawn to people sexually and do not seek to act upon attraction to others in a sexual sense,” according to the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN).
Roughly 1% of people are thought to identify in this way.
However, it doesn’t seem like 1% of the characters on TV or in movies represent this.
Even though it is encouraging to see that things are starting to change—just take a look at the asexual characters that Netflix programs like Sex Education and Heartstopper have added in recent months—sexual orientation is still far too frequently ignored.
Because asexuality is so seldom shown in the media, it makes every portrayal seem much more significant and weighted.
Because of this, I believe that soap operas are the only media that can properly and fairly depict stories like this.
British institutions, soaps have the ability to reach millions of people across a broad demographic many times a week.
They have a reputation for taking on underrepresented topics, and in my opinion, there isn’t a greater venue in entertainment where asexuality can be thoroughly and truthfully examined.
One of the best examples of this kind of plot to date is perhaps Emmerdale’s Liv Flaherty (Isobel Steele) narrative.
Liv, who debuted on the program in 2016 as Aaron’s half-sister, was quickly adored for her role since she was a part of several interesting stories, such as the struggle to remove their violent father.
However, a completely different tale began when, in 2017, she told Belle that she didn’t find any men or women attractive.
Viewers paid close attention to the scenario, which was well-received by people in my neighborhood, mainly since it had never been shown on television before.
Although the term “asexual” had not yet been used in the show, I wonder how many viewers of that particular episode had a sense of understanding for the first time. Indeed, I did.
I saw Liv go on a self-discovery journey that resonated so much with my own experience that I tuned in every night in the months that followed.
Like me, she had trouble identifying her feelings and had to rely mostly on the internet for knowledge about asexuality before she felt comfortable enough to use the word with pride.
It was so pleasant to witness an openly gay character on prime-time television. This persona had been limited to online forums for a while, so it seemed like a confirmation that it existed in the real world.
Although we seen her attempt to kiss her closest friend Gabby because she felt it was the proper thing to do, Liv’s most significant relationship was with Vinny Dingle (Bradley Johnson) at one time.
The two had an amazing connection that led to them moving in together and eventually getting married.
They had many difficulties, but they overcame them by taking baby steps like calling each other “girlfriends,” defining their relationship, and sharing a bed—all of which showed respect for Liv.
It was comforting for people like me who associated with Liv to see that an asexual person can have a good, loving relationship despite not having sex, and it also dispelled preconceptions about what this orientation may entail.
The program didn’t always manage things flawlessly, of course. It was unsettling at times to witness Liv’s asexuality being used against her by others who want to harm her, such as her mother, who attempted to dissolve her marriage by implying Vinny wouldn’t be content in a partnership without sex.
However, this doesn’t lessen the storyline’s effect.
Emmerdale deserves praise for devoting more than five years to documenting Liv’s journey of self-discovery, uncertainty, and, in the end, contentment with her asexuality.
Isobel did a fantastic job depicting all of this as well, capturing Liv’s bravery and vulnerability in equal measure.
This time last year, Liv’s narrative was abruptly ended when she perished in the storm that shook the Dales during the show’s 50th anniversary week.
It was depressing to lose not just a powerful soap character, but also what was arguably the most nuanced portrayal of asexuality on television.
Without a doubt, Liv taught others about asexuality and how they might assist others around them, helping a lot of individuals come to grips with who they are.
I can’t dispute that there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of how asexuality is portrayed on screens, which is why this depiction was so significant and meaningful to me.
More exposure to lesser-known identities is beneficial for all of us, and the more narratives like Liv’s are highlighted, the more advantageous it is for all of us.