Aziraphale and Crowley prove relationships don?t have to be physical to be valid
Good Omens ? both the book and the new TV adaptation ? is many things. It?s part apocalyptic adventure and part quirky comedy, and its characters range from an eccentric self-proclaimed witchfinder to the literal four horsemen of the apocalypse, only this time riding motorcycles. But at heart, it?s a love story.
The TV show plays this up, making the central focus the 6,000-year long relationship between the sometimes-bad angel Aziraphale and the sometimes-good demon Crowley. It?s a profoundly queer relationship ? not just because the two are male-presenting, but because their relationship involves no physical intimacy. At first glance, this may seem less like valuable queer representation and more like a cop-out, a way to ensure plausible deniability about their relationship. But this ignores a segment of the LGBT+ community, one that has long had to scrounge for crumbs of representation: the asexual community.
In recent years, LGBT+ representation in media has grown massively. Yet canonically asexual characters remain few and far between. And if an ace character is in a relationship, it?s usually with a non-ace, and they have to make compromises for the sake of the relationship. (The exception is Bojack Horseman, a fantastic example of ace representation, whose most recent season explored Todd?s struggles with the small ace dating pool.) In real life, aces often have to emphasize that we aren?t all sex-repulsed, that many aces are still willing to have sex, as if to reassure others that ?no no, see, we?re not that weird!?
Enter Good Omens. It is obvious that Aziraphale and Crowley love each other. Michael Sheen (Aziraphale) and David Tennant (Crowley) have confirmed they were playing the relationship that way. One episode starts with a nearly thirty-minute montage of their six millennia of friendship. Crowley suggests they escape Armageddon by running off together; when he believes Aziraphale is dead, Queen?s ?Somebody to Love? plays. The biggest threat Aziraphale can deliver to Crowley is that he?ll never talk to him again. They bicker like an old married couple, and despite Aziraphale?s insistence that he doesn?t even like Crowley, he frequently looks at his friend with tenderness in his eyes. The final scene of the series is the two of them dining at the Ritz, as ?A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square? plays: ?How could he know we two were so in love/The whole damned world seemed upside down.? They never kiss, never declare ?I love you,? and show no interest in sex with anyone. But they don?t need to.
Some on social media have accused the show of queerbaiting because it never explicitly confirms their relationship. Setting aside that this is not quite what queerbaiting means, it also assumes that a relationship must have physical intimacy to be valid. One user asks why the show didn?t make their relationship ?canon? ? even though it?s plain as day to me that is it. This discussion isn?t confined to Tumblr; reviewers also seem confused about what to call their relationship. When discussing a tweet in which Neil Gaiman says they ?absolutely? love each other, one writer says, ?Gaiman?s comment doesn?t make it explicit whether Aziraphale and Crowley have romantic feelings for each other or not, but it?s clear he intended Good Omens to be a love story between the pair all the same. That being said, it looks like the show might have to follow on from Sherlock with fans making up their own minds about how the characters feel about each other.? Except what more is there to be made up? In what way is Gaiman?s confirmation not explicit enough? It?s strange to me that, in spite of all the evidence the show gives of their love, many people still need further proof. Specifically, sexual proof.
But this demonstrates why it?s so rare to see an asexual relationship in media. In our sex-steeped culture, the idea that deep, devoted love does not have to involve sex is unfathomable. It?s why the very existence of asexuality is questioned. It?s why we have phrases like ?just friends? and ?friendzone,? implying that even the closest friendship, lacking that physical component, will always be on a level below. Good Omens could have bought into that idea. It didn?t, and that?s what makes it groundbreaking. The greatest relationship on the show is not Newt and Anathema, the ones who have sex and clearly label each other as boyfriend and girlfriend. It?s the one that?s summed up by Queen?s ?You?re My Best Friend.?
In response to a tweet telling him to ?help normalize gay and queer labels, or at least acknowledge [Aziraphale and Crowley] are gay/bi/pan,? Neil Gaiman says, ?I wouldn?t exclude the ideas that they are ace, aromantic, or trans. They are an angel and a demon, not male humans, as per the book?? (The book states that ?angels are sexless unless they really want to make an effort.?) ?Whatever Crowley and Aziraphale are, it?s a love story.?
It doesn?t matter if they?ve had sex or what they?d call their relationship. They love each other, regardless of the form that love takes. And isn?t that what queer pride is all about?