Ever since feminism suddenly became “cool,” every brand has been dying to jump on the bandwagon to make a buck or two.
From the runways (ahem, Dior) to Etsy, there’s pretty much merch everywhere with the words feminist, girlboss, and the future is female slathered all over them. And now teen television is getting in on the action. The worst culprits? The CW’s reboot of Charmed and Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
If you’ve watched either show (or both), you know that it’s pretty cringe-worthy as the shows try to shove shallow “feminist ideals” down your throat.
Let’s start with Charmed, which is probably the worst offender. The first episode pretty much sets the tone with a painful script and stereotypes galore.
The show features three Latinx sisters. One of whom is Mel, an angry feminist, a lesbian, and a women’s studies masters student. Yeah, she’s the perfect cliche. It’s hard enough to get the world to stop seeing us as crazed, bra-burning women so to see such a stereotype on teen television is just plain maddening.
And that’s not even the worst of it. The first couple episodes are filled with tacky plotlines, like the sisters defeating a professor/demon who also happens to be a sexual assault offender. May as well hit me over the head with it! And then there’s the script. In the pilot, one of the sisters, Maggie, is making out with her boyfriend (who’s also possessed by a demon at the time) and decides she wants to stop. When he continues pursuing her, Maggie yells out, “I can withdraw consent at any time!” I mean, it’s technically accurate, but it’s cheesy as hell.
Meanwhile, the producers and writers are busy patting themselves on the back for blessing the world for such a great, feminist show. Writer Amy Rardin told THR,
“I love seeing these three strong women kick ass every week, getting to talk about these women and also getting to work with strong women. It’s so wonderful and very fulfilling.”
But Charmed isn’t the only show trying to use the feminist trend to their advantage. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina just dropped on Netflix and they also decided that having “a strong girl” at the center of the show was going to be the secret to their success. Oh, how wrong they were.
The show focuses on Sabrina Spellman as she takes it upon herself to punish every misogynist in her town. Sabrina has pretty much two modes: angry and condescending. Angry at all the horrible men in the town, at the coven, at the Dark Lord; condescending towards her lame boyfriend Harvey.
See the problem with Sabrina, and all the other so-called feminist brands, is that they think feminism only equates to strong, often angry, women. But that’s not what feminism is about at all. It’s a movement where we fight for equality for people of every gender identity, race, socio-economic status, sexuality, and ability. It’s called intersectional feminism and it’s the only feminism. In the famous words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “no one is free until we are all free.”
There’s an easy way to write “feminist” characters into your tv show without it being heavy-handed. Just look at Jane the Virgin, The Mindy Project, Insecure and, of course, the ultimate show Mary Tyler Moore.
So stop trying to force feminism into your show because it just comes off as tacky. Feminism is not a passing fad that you can weave into your show.
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