World News – USA – A good break from Sabrina Spellman, the most legitimized figure in television


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Sabrina Spellman’s reign of terror has finally ended. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina ended on its wildly uneven fourth season, and while there are things I’ll miss about the belligerent occult drama (fashion is first, Miranda Otto’s diction the second), there is absolutely no part of me that Sabrina Spellman or her time-paradox double Sabrina Morningstar will long for it. From the series premiere to the series finale, Sabrina has proven time and again to be a self-centered, legitimate white savior who never learned to take responsibility for her astonishingly long list of missteps. And while there have been plenty of shows where the main character was also the most frustrating, CAOS’s biggest mistake was positioning Sabrina’s privilege as what made her a heroine too.

In CAOS, patriarchy was literally the devil, but the series never showed any real interest in dealing with feminism through a cut lens. (Just look at the way the Prudence Night show failed in evidence. So it’s not surprising that the « Woke Witch » at the center of the series wasn’t the inspirational lawyer Sabrina envisioned, but an advocate of white feminism. Though Sabrina boasted of her identity as a social justice activist and an ally of the disenfranchised, she – a straight, cisgender white woman of high social status and high power – consistently focused on anything, whether or not the issue at hand affected her was one she was even somewhat educated about. (See: Sabrina is running for best boy on her first day at the academy, despite knowing almost nothing about the world of witches. Sabrina becomes the queen of hell, although she has only spent a little time in the hellish realm. Sabrina is running for co-president of Baxter Hoch despite infrequent attendance at Mortal School. )

Sabrina’s repeated searches for positions of power for which she was not qualified was symptomatic of the show’s inability to count on her heroine’s privilege in any meaningful way. Whether she was trying to cheat death by resuscitating Tommy Kinkle or cheating the universe by allowing her doppelganger to reign as Queen of Hell, Sabrina always broke the rules by which others were bound – not from that selfless desire to do the right thing, but simply to prove that she could. And if she knew that her friends and family would not support her, she would go to great lengths to hide the truth from them, both for fear of facing her judgment and disinterest in the effects of her actions put others. (It’s a bleak irony, like Sabrina, who would go to the end of the world – or to hell – to protect her own agency, rarely giving her friends and family the opportunity to agree when faced with a decision that would would have a massive impact on their lives. )

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and if CAOS had been a study of how someone with well-meaning motives could do so much harm – and how they could ultimately learn and grow from their mistakes – it could have been fascinating, resonant series. Therefore, at the beginning of the series, I was able to look a little beyond Sabrina’s narcissistic individualism and patiently wait for her character to evolve. But when Brina decided to let Sabrina Morningstar live, it became clear that the only person Sabrina was ever real to was herself, even though she knew the threat this posed to the entire cosmos.

Despite my better judgment, I still held up a glimmer of hope that CAOS would deliver the catharsis I so yearned for when I saw Sabrina bear the cost of her claim once the truth about her double is revealed has been. In the fifth episode of Part 4 – Spoilers Ahead – I thought the moment had come when Sabrina (finally!) Admitted that she had to take responsibility for creating a potentially realm-destroying time paradox – but only after the consequences of hers The aunts were impossible to hide in secrecy. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, CAOS merely treated Sabrina as willing to view accountability as growth enough. (Though I shouldn’t have expected anything less from a show that treated « but I kept my fingers crossed » as a legitimate excuse for lying. )

After a deliciously enjoyable, but far too brief, reference from Zelda about how Sabrina’s selfish lies literally destroyed the realms, the response to her cosmos-threatening secret quickly shifted to her friends and family looking for a void before Sabrina a true penance could be protected – like the two Sabrinas who merge into one or choose a Sabrina to die. Compare this to Zelda’s insistence in Season 1 that Tommy Kinkle’s resurrection be immediately undone to restore balance, and it’s clear that the typical rules just didn’t apply to the teenage half-witch.

The moral conundrum of what to do with the twin Sabrinas could have been a catalyst for one or both of them to realize that « having it all » doesn’t mean refusing to compromise or always lying, Setting fire to people and manipulating them to get what you want. (Or that a 16-year-old with no interest in reaping souls shouldn’t be the queen of Hell when Lilith is right there. ) But ultimately (spoiler alert) all that led up to it was a martyrdom tale in which Sabrina Spellman and Sabrina Morningstar sacrificed each other to save the universe on the final episode of the series.

Even though Sabrina’s loved ones wept over their loss, my eyes stayed bone dry. The truth is, Sabrina’s death would have felt sadder if it hadn’t been so avoidable. Sabrina Morningstar should never have existed, if we’re honest, and Sabrina Spellman could probably have survived if she had gone to the trouble of consulting someone at every step of the process rather than half-excitedly running away, creating confusion and increasing the risks. While a lot of the problems last season stemmed from mistakes Sabrina made, that doesn’t mean she had to die to pay for those mistakes. By killing both Sabrinas, the show completely let her off the hook and allowed her to die a hero rather than live and grapple with her mistakes. Through her death all structures and mistakes of Sabrina were flattened and forgotten until she became nothing more than a holy figure who had martyred herself for the common good. And that’s not a gross exaggeration: after her death, the Academy literally erected a golden statue of Sabrina in a place normally reserved for the deities of the circle, positioning her self-serving state of emergency as not only praiseworthy, but perhaps even adorable. (And don’t even let me know how the show then revealed that Nick Scratch drowned off-screen so he and Sabrina could be reunited in heaven, to reward them with a happy ending on the back of a possible loved one Suicide. )

Treated thoughtfully, Sabrina’s worst tendencies – her claim, her performative altruism, her know-it-all insolence – could have given CAOS a nuanced heroine whose journey of self-discovery would resonate with many struggling for their burgeoning independence. Instead, we received the alienating story of a spoiled young woman who put the entire universe at risk for refusing to choose between Queen of Hell and cheerleading, and whose selfish frivolity was celebrated to the end. So while I’m going to miss Zelda, Hilda, Ambrose, Prudence, Lilith, and of course fashion, I have to say a good break to Sabrina Spellman. May we never meet again.

Chilling adventures of Sabrina, Netflix, Sabrina Spellman, Kiernan Shipka, Sabrina, the teenage witch, Riverdale, Zelda Spellman

World News – USA – Good break from Sabrina Spellman, the TV title character


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