Season 2 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina premiered Friday April 5th on Netflix and it was certainly full of surprises. Just within the first episode, fans were confronted with several dilemmas in the lives of the show’s lead characters.
First, Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) must choose between her life as a witch and her “ordinary” life, which includes deciding between her love interests as well as choosing between light and dark paths. With the new season, the series has become a coming-of-age tale, as Sabrina confronts common teenage issues, such as when to have sex, how to deal with heartbreak and the loss of trust between friends, and most of all how to deal with peer pressure. Second, Ross (Jaz Sinclair) struggles with her newfound desire for Harvey (Ross Lynch), Sabrina’s ex, and battles between being a good friend and following what her heart desires. Sabrina, in turn, fights jealousy as she confronts the fact that her best friend and ex-boyfriend begin to form a bond.
Third, and possibly most unconventional in a show full of unconventionality, is the fact that Susie, played by Lachlan Watson, finally reveals herself to be a transgender man, changing his name to “Theo.” Concerning scripted television aimed at young adults, this was a fairly bold move both for Netflix and Warner Bros., who produces the show. In fact, Lachlan Watson is, themself, a non-binary actor. In an interview with Teen Vogue, Watson explains how Susie’s character was supposed to have been revealed as transgender in the first season.
“I think that [Susie being a trans man] was originally the concept for the character, but I think in bringing me on board and having me talk about my own identity,” Watson explains. “I think it may have swayed the writers just a little bit to maybe hold off on labeling or defining [Susie] just yet.” Another groundbreaking aspect is the fact that this is one of the few, if not first, times in US scripted television that a nonbinary character is portrayed by a nonbinary actor, especially in a teen-centered show. In other shows, such as Transparent, transgender characters are often portrayed by cisgender actors, or those who ascribe to the identity and gender of their birth sex.
In the representation of such struggles, the show becomes more of a coming-of-age tale that, as outlandish as the show may sometimes seem, presents common issues most teens today might face, while simultaneously breaking boundaries for teen-centered scripted television.