Who do you turn to when you need a favour? For many people across Hollywoo, the answer is simple – Todd Chavez. Whether he’s playing triangle in an orchestra, helping the Peanutbutter campaign, or getting a DNA test done to see if the teen horsegirl Hollyhock is BoJack’s daughter, Todd is the man for the job.
For most of BoJack, Todd’s role is usually relegated to the comic relief B-plot. This episode is all about taking that character and putting him centre stage. In some ways, we can think of it as “The Legend of Todd”.
Todd describes his own life as a “just a series of loosely-related wacky misadventures”, and while that certainly remains true, we start to see what that means for him in practice. His constant desire to be helpful and useful has made him indispensable across Hollywoo. In this episode alone, he does a favour for Princess Carolyn by posing as Courtney Portnoy’s boyfriend, continues his work for the Peanutbutter campaign, anonymously gives Diane work advice, gets a DNA test done to see if newcomer Hollyhock is really BoJack’s daughter, and even finds time to play the triangle part in a popular orchestra. Essentially, for everything that runs smoothly in Hollywoo, there seems to be a Todd rushing around frantically behind the scenes. His interventions don’t always go to plan, and there are plenty of mistakes and digressions along the way, but we’re left with the impression that Hollywoo would be much worse off without him.
An important development that we’ve only tantalisingly touched on above is the first proper appearance of Hollyhock, a teenage horsegirl who believes that BoJack might be her biological father. Her tendency to overeat, nap and veg out in front of the television is certainly a very BoJack-esque trait. By the end of the episode, we learn that Hollyhock does indeed have Horseman DNA, and it seems as if she will be around for a while.
Todd’s encounter with Hollyhock also leads him to discover that BoJack is back in town. Given all that’s happened, Todd is not yet ready to be friends with BoJack again, but he’s also willing to be more than “not-friends”. A genuinely apologetic BoJack is ready for Todd to move back in and start sleeping on his couch again, but Todd refuses. The contrast between BoJack wanting things to be just as they were, and Todd having matured and moved on from those days, is very striking.
This is also the episode in which Todd finally identifies himself as asexual, claiming “it actually feels nice to finally say it out loud” when he comes out to BoJack. What’s great is that when he comes out to Emily and BoJack, both respond positively, but entirely in keeping with their charcters. Emily’s response is immediately accepting, but comes with undertones of relief – the reason that Todd rejected her sexually wasn’t because of something she did, or because he didn’t like her, it’s just that he’s not interested in sex. For once, it really was a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”. BoJack’s response is similarly positive, but in a very BoJack way – he makes some lame jokes and almost instantly brings the topic back to himself.
Was Todd always meant to be asexual? Before season three, it’s unclear, and to be honest the first time I saw season three my instinct was that it conflicted with earlier episodes. In the very first episode, Todd seemed concerned with whereabouts of one ‘Gabriela’, and in the second episode, we see him chatting up Japanese scammer Ayako over video chat. However, this is all actually fine. As we’ll discover, Todd is asexual but not aromantic – he doesn’t feel sexual desire, but he is still interested in romantic relationships without the physical intimacy. And indeed, we’ve never seen Todd express an interest in a sexual relationship – the one vaguely sexual encounter we know about is when his arm and blanket get caught up with BoJack and Sarah Lynn’s lovemaking in Prickly-Muffin, and he certainly didn’t enjoy that.
I could hardly close out this review without mentioning the ongoing Peanutbutter campaign. Mr Peanutbutter is told by Katrina to give a speech on fracking without declaring himself either for or against it. His rousing yet essentially content-free speech expertly parodies the quality of political discourse in recent years.
The Legend of Todd
- The orchestra members discuss various rumours about Todd that arise from his actions in previous episodes. They mention that he was in a prison gang (actual two gangs, the Aryans and the Latin Kings), was a tech millionaire (briefly, before he lost the $8 million from the sale of Cabracadabra and is secretly a foreign prince (as we know, he looks just like the Prince of Cordovia).
- Following on from his impromptu appearance in a fashion show in this episode, Todd’s clothing will become widely adopted across Hollywoo.
While I think that, overall, Todd’s asexuality is a good direction for the show, I can’t speak for how asexual people found. I’ve therefore gathered up a few articles discussing it from an ace perspective. For some people, it was great to see some representation, and they felt heartened that Todd is a rounded human being who just happens to also be asexual. Others found it jarring that the asexual character was the one who was, up until now, a comedy joke character. However, it’s hard to see this plot development working for any of the other four main characters, and introducing a new character just for this arc would have lacked the impact.
Essentially, it’s good to see an asexual character front and centre in such a popular TV show, but of course one character and one show can’t capture the complete range of asexual experience.
Anyway, enough of my opinion, I promised some links:
Summary – Hooray! Todd Episode: “It’s not like a ninth dad is what I need to suddenly fill a hole in my life that the unconditional love of eight dads couldn’t already fill.”