Being Asexual Doesn’t Mean You Need To Be “Fixed” & Heartbreak High’s Ca$h Is A Good Reminder Of That

I still vividly remember where I was when I first discovered that there was an asexual character in Heartbreak High. A week or so after the first season was released I was out at dinner with a friend who was raving about the series. I had only watched an episode the night it came out, but hadn't gone back to it (to be clear, I liked the show, life just got busy). This friend insisted that I go home and continue watching it as a matter of urgency because there was an asexual character in the show.
Enter: Australia's favourite eshay Douglas "Ca$h" Piggot, played by Will McDonald.
This was an unfathomable moment for me, as a young, not openly asexual woman. When I heard this show being praised for its authentic diversity, I didn't realise it extended to my own community. Later that night, I went back to watching the show with a renewed interest and quickly understood the hype. This wasn't just tokenistic inclusion — Heartbreak High was taking the time to get it right.
In this interview with Refinery29 Australia, Will McDonald, who plays Ca$h, speaks about asexual representation and the most common misconceptions about ace identity.

"It's just one part of his identity. There's a whole spectrum of things that are that are making him up".

Will Mcdonald on ca$h's asexual identity
"It's just one part of his identity," Will McDonald tells Refinery29 Australia. "There's a whole spectrum of things that are making him up. I think that's the way he challenges those preconceptions — he's just so staunchly himself."
Throughout season two, Ca$h attempts to process his asexuality while coming face to face with another major misconception common to the community — that they're broken and need fixing.
"The biggest misconception is that there must be something wrong with you if you're asexual or there must have been something terrible that has happened to you in your life in relation to a sexual experience that has turned you off it," McDonald says. "That all you need is some person to come along and 'fix it' for you."
"I think that's probably the biggest misconception — the idea that your identity is not valid and is not worthy of discussion," he continues.
In Season Two of Heartbreak High, Ca$h and Darren struggle with trying to make their relationship work, given their drastically varying sexual appetites. This all culminates in a vulnerable scene where Ca$h admits to his grandmother that he feels like, "Someone's always gonna be making a sacrifice if they'd be with me".
This feeling of being a burden to the people you are in a relationship with is near universal to asexual people in relationships. She reassures him that "everyone's walking around with a poo in their pants", and suggests that his and Darren's relationship does not have to exist within the stereotypical relationship binaries.
For McDonald, the way in which the show tackles Ca$h and Darren's relationship is key to breaking down ace stereotypes. "Ca$h challenges it in the way that he and Darren navigate the aspect of sex in their relationship going forward in the season and the ongoing discussion that the two of them have around it," McDonald says of Ca$h's season two story arc. "But also just being such a multi-faceted character helps."
If there was any concern that Ca$h was set to be limited by his asexuality, then season two of Heartbreak High promptly dispels that myth. As well as navigating a relationship, Ca$h goes to jail, gets high and dances in a park, moves out of home, picks up drugs from a lake, participates in a food fight and goes to formal.
This season, we also saw leaps and bounds for asexual representation, with the word "asexual" being uttered for the first time. When Dusty says, "You're ace", Ca$h's knee-jerk response is one of anger, denial and frustration. This moment epitomises the internalised shame and frustration that he feels for being on the asexual spectrum.
He then pauses for a moment and says, "Maybe, I don't know", showing that while he has thought a lot about investigating his sexuality further, he is still resistant to fully commit to a label.
As an asexual person myself, this is something that I can relate to. I knew from the time I was a teenager that I experienced attraction differently to those around me. When I first discovered that I was ace, I did not interrogate that thought any further for months. The act of labelling yourself is difficult because from that moment on, it (in a lot of ways) defines you. You are also setting yourself up for a more unconventional and difficult life, with many intrusive questions being viewed as "okay" because your identity is confounding to a lot of people.

"It's such incredible representation. I'm so honoured and privileged to be able to portray a character like this for not just an Australian audience, but a global one."

Will McDonald
"It's such incredible representation," McDonald says of his role in Heartbreak High. "I'm so honoured and privileged to be able to portray a character like this for not just an Australian audience, but a global one."
Anyone who ever says that asexual people are empty or broken need to take a look at all of the things that Ca$h did this season, and they will realise that he is not broken, he is whole.
Thank you, Heartbreak High for another season of authentic and healing asexual representation, and to Will McDonald for bringing Ca$h and his personal journey to life. Here's to what I hope is a future of asexual representation that is not a monolith. An ace girl can dream!
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