Sexualized Saturdays: Hunter Gathers from The Venture Bros.

tumblr_leo5unpjjl1qzb8r6o1_500It’s always hard to find good homosexual characters in pop culture, but finding any transgender, gender fluid, or nongender characters, let alone a good one, is especially hard.

The Venture Bros. is one of those shows that seems really weird based on any previews or short clips you may have seen, but it actually has some of the best writing I have ever seen in a show, especially when it comes to minority characters. In the show, Brock Samson is a bodyguard and agent working for the OSI or Office of Secret Intelligence. He was first trained by Colonel Hunter Gathers, his mentor, and a man he says was like a father to him. Hunter also might be transgender.

(The pronouns Hunter is addressed as changes based on his biological sex in the show. Since Hunter is currently a male on the show I will refer to him with male pronouns.)

At first it’s not totally obvious; while Hunter trains Brock, he comes off like the most stereotypical manly man. The only obvious hint that Hunter has a more womanly side to him is that he always smokes his cigarette in a long cigarette holder. He also has a penchant for dressing in drag when going undercover on missions, and if you watch carefully you may notice that many of Hunter’s mannerisms and the way he holds himself are very feminine.

Hunter often explains to Brock that one of the biggest rules for the OSI is no killing women or children, no matter what. Later, Brock is sent on a mission to kill Hunter after he left OSI and went rogue. When Brock finds Hunter, he has already gone through a sex change operation, so Brock can’t kill him.

At first, it might seem like Hunter never wanted to be a woman, but rather that he didn’t want to be killed. However, he seems completely at home in his female body. For some reason Hunter later changes back to being in a male body, and it isn’t entirely clear why. As a woman, he first works as a stripper, then works with a group of all-female assassins. However, it is later discovered that he actually started his own secret organization called S.P.H.I.N.X. and was undercover. It seems that because he works for S.P.H.I.N.X. that he needed to be male again, which seems odd to me. It’s true we never see any female secret agents on the show. All the women appear to be either working as villains or assassins. However, S.P.H.I.N.X. is now being run by Hunter, so if there was a “men only” requirement it doesn’t make sense that Hunter couldn’t change it. All this could show that Hunter is actually a man. He became female to escape death, then went undercover with a group of female assassins before returning to his original gender.

But that is not the case according to Hunter’s own testimony.

In this video, Hunter talks about how he misses his female body and that there is “a woman inside of him screaming to be heard.” However in this same speech he states all this because he says men don’t keep secrets from each other. So here he is identifying as a man, but saying he misses being a woman.

It’s possible that Hunter might be gender fluid. He sometimes feels like a man and sometimes like a woman; when he is a man he still has many feminine characteristics, but when he is a woman he still has many manly characteristics.

Hunter is also still interested in women and often goes to the same strip club he used to work at as a woman. He makes comments about the women as well, even having one conversation with Brock about how one of the strippers had “mournful tits.”

Hunter is a badass. He is runs his own secret agency and has trained some of the most dangerous agents in the world. He’s also probably genderfluid. He feels more comfortable as a woman, though not entirely uncomfortable as a man, and is still attracted to just women.

The problem with pop culture is how often we try to fit sexuality and gender into perfect boxes, when really there are infinite variations when it comes to people. Hunter is just one excellent example of a well-rounded and complex character.