From beginning to end, Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina celebrates queer culture in the most authentic of ways – touching on religion, representation and sex.
Traditionally, TV shows have often used LGBTQ+ themes as token inclusion or sub-plot points in order to provide audiences with ‘woke’ moments. But instead the writers behind Sabrina have given us varied, nuanced characters who live within their truths but for who their LGBTQ+ identities don’t always have to be the focus of the story playing out on screen.
The variety of characters’ sexualities and gender identities are both visible and accepted as fact, and that in itself is great representation.
While the show’s main romance is still heterosexual and while the overall LGBTQ+ themes may not always be perfect – Aunt Hilda outing a bully’s lust towards his male friend portrayed as an act of heroism definitely isn’t without its problems, for example – the deeper sense of authenticity is at least a step in the right direction.
In case you missed them, here’s a few of our favourite queer moments from the Netflix reboot.
An Orgy Takes A Look At Sexual Fluidity
Prudence doesn’t believe in monogamy and as we learn, apparently no witches or warlocks really do.
In episode 7 Prudence is about to be eaten alive by her peers in order to sacrifice her soul to The Dark Lord. How does she choose to spend her last day in the living world? How she damn well wants to: shagging everyone in sight, quite literally. It’s a big moment for sexual fluidity, non-monoagmy and sex positivity done right: that is fun, consensual, healthy and natural, not portrayed as shameful or embarrassing, as it so often is when it comes to seeing teenagers having sex on TV.
The ep embraces sexual fluidity as something that is the norm, and with 85% of Brits aged 18-24 believing sexuality should be viewed on a scale, rather than simply gay or straight, it’s pretty damn relevant.
Sabrina’s Cousin Is A Pansexual Warlock
And a British pansexual warlock at that. Erm, hello.
Ambrose’s sexual attractions to other people are not based on their gender identities and the representation of his character cleverly veers away from the show’s overarching theme of promiscuity, erasing a stereotype commonly associated with being attracted to multiple genders.
Ambrose wants to be loved, craves it even. And in episode 5, he becomes trapped in a nightmare that deems him unworthy of emotional validation, a fear that many LGBTQ+ people face thanks to society normalising the sexualisation of queer identities, making us (wrongly) believe queer sexual experiences are always more about lust and not deep feelings of love.
It’s a clever metaphor that makes a big point about the misconception that queer love is any different to heterosexual love, and it’s brilliantly done too.
Susie’s Non-Binary Plotline Is Something To Behold
Portrayed by Lachlan Watson, who themself identifies as non-binary, their input into the show’s representation of the genderqueer character is a prime example of why having LGBTQ+ actors in queer roles can only be of benefit. Speaking on their casting to Young Entertainment Magazine, Lachlan said: “Initially, I didn’t have much input on Susie’s storyline, I was just happy to be along for the ride.”
“But after a little while, I started to understand that Roberto (our lovely executive producer/creator extraordinaire) cast me for a reason. Roberto himself told me that part of the reason he was so passionate about casting me in the role of Susie was because as a genderqueer person, I would be able to relate to Susie and understand Susie in a way that no one else on the team could.”
And while Susie still might not know exactly who they are by the end of the season, or have the language to express their identity, we do see them begin to understand the power they have within them.
“I may have influenced the writers to hold off,” Lachlan tells Bustle about Susie’s coming out. “I talk so much about myself and my identity as a non-binary person and I think they listened, and if anything it helped them understand that labels aren’t everything. Susie is on an ongoing queer journey, just like myself.”
Jesse’s Sin-Filled Possession
Susie’s Uncle Jesse is possessed by a demon throughout the first half of the season. It transpires that Jesse is gay and when the demon explains why they chose to possess Jesse, it calls him “a sodomite.”
If you didn’t know, this is a biblical term which is, in one sense, used to refer to people who partake in anal sex. So in this sense, Jesse having sex as a gay man makes him vulnerable to let evil – in this case a demon – in. This plays on the traditional religious fear that same sex relationships are somehow ‘unholy.’
And yeah, it sucks that they kill off the gay guy – it’s a trope we’ve seen again and again. The link between religion and sexuality has always been a heavy dialogue, but the show embeds the narrative so subtly that it makes a real impact.
There’s A ‘Straight’ Guy With A Queer Eye
Aunt Hilda ‘outs’ a bully who assaulted and emotionally abused Susie for not self-identifying their gender to fit the so-called ‘norm’ (even though we all know that the idea of something being ‘normal’ is a construct in itself), which isn’t great.
Fighting fire with fire doesn’t educate. But the scene, which takes place in the episode 9, accurately shows an issue with male sexuality that comes hand-in-hand with our culture’s predisposition for toxic masculinity. And the bully’s level of self-hatred exists IRL. Society instils it. It sucks, but it does.
It’s an issue that needs attention, and it’s finally getting it.
Part 1 of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is available to stream on Netflix right now! So what are you waiting for?
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