Being fashionably late to everything is a specialty of mine. Today I want to talk about Stolas, my favorite character from my latest fandom, Helluva Boss, and how his relationship with Blitzo shows some of the gnarlier aspects of building intimacy with others, and how I myself relate to them as a gay man.
Welcome back to Worldbuilding Workout, everyone!
Apologies for the hiatus. Another update has been in the wings for some time due to length, awaiting commission art completion, and the passing of my very close friend and proofreader, Level Dasher back in early April. Starting in July I am looking to resume WW on its typical 1-2 times per month schedule.
In the meantime, I struck upon inspiration for this entry after finally watching Helluva Boss with a friend, and decided to post it out first while the finishing touches are being applied to the original update.
Lust, and How We Can Let it Interfere with Building Connections:
Stolas: A Cocktail of Wholesomeness and Horni
When we first meet Stolas his relationship with Blitzo seems to be based solely upon sex. He flirts with Blitzo, and even proposes sex as a transactional benefit for allowing Blitzo to continue using his grimoire. Blitzo seems repulsed by all of this, but puts up with our lithe owl because of his grimoire and the access to the human realm that it provides.
Later on in the season, however, we see Stolas miserably eating cereal while watching soap dramas about unrequited love. Not a moment later, Blitzo invites Stolas to join him on a ‘date,’ which Stolas is shocked and excited by. This invitation, however, was largely a ruse. Blitzo invited Stolas because only couples were allowed to enter the lounge he was attempting to gain access to. He proceeded to ignore Stolas the entire stay as he spied on Millie and Moxxie.
Following exposition on Blitzo’s failed past relationships, Blitzo gets up and demands to leave. When he drops Stolas off at his mansion they have a very real interaction about Stolas’s expectations, perceived or otherwise. When Stolas offers for them to have some wine inside, Blitzo refuses, and when Stolas follows up with an invitation to merely talk or cuddle, Blitzo refuses again, and delivers one of the most intense lines of the show thus far.
There were a lot of powerful things going on in Ozzie’s, both with Stolas and Blitzo, but I personally felt something intense when I saw this interaction in-particular, and watched Stolas despondently sitting on the steps of his mansion with his head in his hands.
Intimacy is difficult. Building meaningful relationships with others is a long, often messy process, and whether we’re humans or animated cartoon demons we are often making mistakes along the way. As a gay man, I can attest that we often, often struggle with sex and intimacy, and how they are not the same thing. Sex is a physical way to become more intimate with a partner but it is not a substitute or shortcut for the trickier aspects of intimacy—mutual interests, empathizing with your partner’s goals and dreams, and truly making the effort to understand another person, outside the bedroom as well as within.
I think it was fair what Blitzo said, but I also don’t blame Stolas. We’ve seen enough of Stolas’s character to know the genuine desire and efforts being made. The disconnection for Stolas is that all his life he has lacked intimacy of that depth with anyone. He certainly didn’t get it from his cold, controlling father or his arranged marriage with a woman who held contempt for him from the start. He is actively struggling to learn how to be intimate, how to date, how to sustain an intimate relationship with an adult. And boy if that isn’t one of the most relatable things for a lot of the 20-30 years olds like me watching this show.
In Stolas’s next appearance we learn of his childhood friendship with Blitzo, and how his first reunion with his friend as an adult was a new and exciting sexual experience (even if it was an act) that he’d never encountered before. A level of intimacy he’d never felt before. It’s little wonder then, perhaps, why Stolas tended to fixate on sex when speaking with Blitzo thereafter. It was thrilling, and largely became how he associated intimacy with Blitzo, who tended to be dismissive of Stolas, otherwise.
Of course, as Ozzie’s showed us, Stolas ultimately does long for more than this. He simply didn’t have the words or perhaps the courage to address it in the ways it should have been, as early on as it should have been. We already know from Stolas’ relationship with his daughter that he struggles with forward communication at times, something he also found attractive in Blitzo.
Throughout the show so far Blitzo’s struggle with intimacy is even more blatant than Stolas. Blitzo outright broadcasts it in comparison. But there have been times where we’ve seen him emotionally vulnerable as well, most notably at the end of Ozzie’s and Western Energy. Upon finding out that Stolas was actually hurt by someone, Blitzo’s detached way of viewing his relationship with Stolas was suddenly very threatened.
Watching them both struggle with intimacy and how to properly convey it in their own ways is both saddening and realistic. Most men, to some degree, struggle with it because we live in a society that so often mocks or looks down upon men when they attempt to open up, express themselves, or convey emotional wants or needs.
Even in gay men this struggle is not lost. Though gay men are (sometimes but not always) more in-touch with their emotional range, we’re all raised in the same society that tries to hold everyone to the same toxic standards, and even just being gay can become a massive target for hate and ridicule. Even without daddy issues or prefabricated backstories, most of us can relate to how these two have felt.
Stolas is such an interesting and relatable character for me. I, myself, have been where he was, frustrated with myself over prioritizing physical intimacy at a time where something more sincere would have been better, and may have seen growth in my relationship, rather than a setback. Frustration over how I didn’t recognize what I was doing at the time, and wasn’t wise enough to realize it.
As Helluva Boss continues I look forward to seeing how he and Blitzo address their insecurities, hangs ups, and blocks in communication and intimacy. I think these are hot topic issues for the age ranges watching this series, and knowing Vivienne Medrano herself falls within them, I’m sure it’s a very important topic for her and her teams as well.
The fact we have such powerful topics of emotional and social struggles in a series known for dark humor is truly fantastic. In the same vain that I praise Bluey for bringing wholesome, inclusive writing to all demographics while still targeting its youngest audiences, I praise Helluva Boss for showing us gritty, real relationship issues in the same breath that it gives us its dark, twisted humor.
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