Title

‘Are you sure we’re witches and not puritans?’: Sexual flexibility and unrealised desire in Netflix’s chilling adventures of Sabrina

Author Identifier

Debra Dudek

ORCID : 0000-0003-2882-8830

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

Sexuality in literature for children and young adults

Publisher

Routledge, Taylor & Francis

School

School of Arts and Humanities / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications

RAS ID

36034

Comments

Dudek, D. (2021). ‘Are you sure we’re witches and not puritans?’: Sexual flexibility and unrealised desire in Netflix’s chilling adventures of Sabrina. In P. Venzo & K. Moruzi (Eds.), Sexuality in literature for children and young adults (pp. 108-123). Routledge, Taylor & Francis. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9781003131434-10/sure-re-witches-puritans-debra-dudek

Abstract

Netflix’s television series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina combines elements from its comic source material with aspects of other paranormal screen romances—such as those depicted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twilight, and The Vampire Diaries—which feature a romance between a supernatural and a human being. While Chilling Adventures pays homage to these earlier screen stories, the romance between witch-human Sabrina and fully human Harvey informs, but does not drive, the narrative. The central conflict is not that a witch loves a mortal, but rather that Sabrina is pressured to choose between a future as a human or as a witch, at least in season one. As early as Sabrina’s first appearance in Archie Comics in 1962, Sabrina straddled human and witch worlds, trying simultaneously to defy and belong to both. In each manifestation, Sabrina embodies a liminal state inherent in young adults and witches alike. In ‘Figuring the witch’, David Punter claims that the ‘“question of the witch” … . has rather to do with transient, becoming, halting, temporary, liminal states: what might it be like, not to be a witch, but rather to experience a moment of “witch-becoming” …’ (p. 68). This chapter examines how, in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, this liminality is situated between troubling binaries about human and witch sexuality, with humans leaning towards heteronormativity and witches towards sexual flexibility. Although Sabrina repeatedly advocates for power in liminality, ultimately the series defaults to heteronormative monogamy rather than sexual flexibility by denying Sabrina the opportunity to realise her desire fully.

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Research Themes

Society and Culture

Priority Areas

Creativity, culture and artistic practice

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