When I first binge-watched ‘The Walking Dead’ in 2020, I already had nine seasons to go through and none of the waiting other fans had to do for over a decade. Over the next few days, one character that stood out the most was Norman Reedus’ Daryl Dixon. New episodes of season 10 have now been added on Netflix, with a bland flashback to Dixon’s solitary break into the wildness.
Let’s start with some background – Daryl Dixon wasn’t in the original character roster of writer Robert Kirkman’s comic series. In the live-action show, Dixon starts off as an aggressive introverted redneck with a cross-bow and an asshole older brother. As the show progresses, he slowly becomes part of the inner pack of protagonists trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. It was hard not to notice how Dixon seemed asexual. Despite developing close bonds with several women characters, he never casts a longing look at anybody. He is a reliable friend, a model-member of the pack, a brother-figure to the leader Rick Grimes and a father-figure to the younger kids. All his efforts to keep his people safe makes him more endearing because his actions are selfless. In other words, Dixon’s deeds are not ruled by his dick. Or so it seems.
When his perceived ‘asexuality’ hit me, I immediately thought of writing a little piece, but a quick search on the internet revealed that his sexuality has been a matter of debate over the last few years. There were many fans who thought the same; actor Norman Reedus has in-fact even received fan-mail thanking him for portraying an asexual character. However, Robert Kirkman, the writer of the show and comics, revealed that Dixon is “straight” and “somewhat asexual”. Some fans were happy with the “somewhat asexual” statement, others – not so much. And the makers of the show clearly seem to remain as ambiguous as they can about this particular character, due to his sheer popularity. Because at the end of the day – there are way more fans out there shipping him with other women protagonists.
While the “LGBTQ” acronym has been extended to include “IA”, ‘intersex’ and ‘asexual’; they still have very little representation in the entertainment industry. In ‘The Walking Dead’, there are gay, lesbian characters, so it isn’t like the creators have a lot to risk if they add some more sexual diversity. Maybe the asexual community is too small for big producers to care about their visibility. It’s easier to pander to heterosexual ‘ships’ and rake in more TRPs, than bother about a minority group. One only has to take the example of the popular TV character Sheldon Cooper from ‘Big Bang Theory’ to understand how asexual representation is sometimes deliberately erased to introduce ‘regular’ romantic themes. From the start, Sheldon Cooper was projected as a geek with no interest in romance/sex and yet, as the show progressed, he was practically forced into a hetero relationship. And in later episodes, he is pretty much bullied by his friends into establishing a physical relationship with his girlfriend.
‘The Walking Dead’ makers had the chance to change things and not go the ‘Big Bang Theory’ way, but they have chosen not to. Daryl Dixon could’ve been an asexual icon, but going by the new episodes of Season 10, his ‘somewhat asexual’ appeal has already been diluted with a ‘somewhat romantic’ sub-plot. Although nothing sexual transpires between Daryl and this new character, the flashback story was so pointless, that it seemed like the makers introduced it with the sole purpose of ‘somewhat’ clarifying that ‘hey, this guy is straight’. In-fact, with the way the show is progressing, fans might not be too surprised if Dixon ends up shacking with one of the woman characters after all, and has a couple of babies himself. Sigh.
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Listen to Episode 4 for a ‘Comics Vs Show’ comparison of ‘The Walking Dead’