Let’s start off by saying that, by far, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is my favorite teen drama I’ve watched in a very long time. While it definitely leans into its younger demographic, it still tells an engaging story with interesting characters in a unique setting. For a TV show, the teens are much more teen-like than most teen drama types, actually worrying about classes and making clubs and thinking of teen solutions to teen problems (most of the time). They aren’t adults acting like college kids while we’re pretending it’s high school. They’re adults acting as high school students who act like frustrated teens. It’s honestly impressive, in the world of absurd Riverdale, Pretty Little Liars, and the like.
Now to the problematic shit. (SPOILERS galore, so be warned).
So there’s a fairly common trend in teen dramas where there is a core group of characters that are all buddies working together. That’s a fine dynamic and works really well. However, conflict in these groups rarely last longer than a few episodes, so something all-too-common in teen life tends to get terrible representation: break-ups. In the average teen drama, if two members are part of the core group and break up, the awkwardness and pain of their break-up tends to get overtly glossed over. While maybe they do have the honest scenes of calling it quits and a few sad moments, they rarely deal with the truest part of staying friends with exes: the awkwardness.
In Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, not only is the Sabrina/Harvey break-up handled weirdly, but it sticks out like a sore thumb in this otherwise good show. They have a weird period of trying to be friends but they get handsy, but that’s only 5 minutes. Then, very quickly, it devolves into now Harvey is with Roz and Sabrina is with Nick. I care little for shipping, particularly in teen dramas where everything is a rocky boat. But what should be intense, lingering awkwardness between Sabrina and Harvey (and Roz, at this point) is completely ignored. Just because the two have other romantic interests doesn’t change the fact they were dating for years, loved one another, were really serious about their relationship. Only months ago they were professing their love and wanting to be together forever. In October, it was “I love you”. By Valentine’s Day, he’s getting it on with her best friend. Things should be a little more awkward between them, even if they are okay with moving forward.
But nah. Nada. Nothing.
The weirdest, most egregious scene is the final scene of the season. The Baxter High gang is back together (Harvey, Sabrina, Roz, and Theo). Sabrina leans forward, looking right towards Harvey in particular, saying their next plan is to get her boyfriend back.
Even if you’ve gotten in a new relationship, hearing such a fresh ex say that is uncomfortable. I remember what it’s like to be a teen. Hanging out with an ex months later was always still weird. Shows act like teen groups always live through boys and break-ups, but that really isn’t the case. And those that stick together? Well they have to hash through a lot more feelings than just “We don’t work”, sporadic crying, and then a weird approval nod of their new relationship. That didn’t work with the weird Salvatore brother fighting over Elena, and it won’t work here. That’s not how feelings work. They more often linger and muddy things than just disappear. And sometimes, if they do disappear, that’s what makes things lingering and uncomfortable and muddy.
Furthermore, the reasons they broke up are wholly unresolved. They both cited her witchiness and the dangers that posed. Well, not only is he now dating a psychic but also they’ve given up keeping her mortal friends away from the darkness in her life.
Ergo, the real reasons they broke up are now moot. So next season are they going to have weird feelings for each other again, being so close, messing with the entire dynamic? Is the show going to start playing the “pass around romantic relationships” game that so many other teen dramas do? Sure, it may be easy dramatic buzz, but it’s lame and confusing. The amount of romantic switches Riverdale does still boggles my mind, and I rarely watch it. That’s how far that shit spreads.
While I expect this behavior from Riverdale, Gossip Girl, or Vampire Diaries, I expected better from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. It had been trying so hard to be its own, different thing. Why make this part so painfully typical?
Not only do the characters deserve better, but so does the story and the fans, too.
Season 2 was fun, but hopefully season 3 improves on making the show all its own again. And please don’t make Sabrina and Harvey kiss in a nostalgic moment and then try to pretend it didn’t happen and then have a “liar revealed” moment with Roz. Christ am I tired of that.