I’ll cast a spell on you

This next show is what inspired me to join a cult and start drawing pentagrams everywhere: not. Sabrina, the Teenage Witch was one of my favorite shows as a child that I loved to watch with my nana (I watched a lot of these shows with my nana I’m now realizing). The series ran from 1996 to 2003 and starred Melissa Joan Hart as the title character. When I started my research on this show I was expecting to find a bunch of articles on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch glorifying witchcraft and religious intolerance, which wouldn’t fit in as well with my paper, but instead I found an article on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch titled The Rules of the Gendered Realm: An Interpretive Study of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch by Genevieve Marie Andrade that discusses how the female cast members reinforce gender stereotypes and subordinate one another. Because of this I will be doing this blog post backwards than the others I have done with the research in the beginning and the analysis of the show afterwards because during my time watching the show when I was younger I don’t remember women’s subordination being an undertone.
The article asserts that adolescence is harding for girls as they find their appearance matters more than what they do and that television influences meaning-making in adolescents therefore assumptions about gender are made by the viewer. The author did research into 6 episodes and said that she found that the female characters had no agency when it was unrelated to their appearance and that they mostly did things to help men. With my understanding of what the author is trying to assert I then went and watched the show to see if I also noticed these trends.
I was available to find some full episodes on YouTube though noise is distorted. For this analysis I will be looking at season 2 episode 4 Dante’s Inferno. In this episode Sabrina’s boyfriend Harvey tells her that his parents want him to start dating other girls. Sabrina is upset and her aunts try to set her up with wizard boys but she says she only wants Harvey. The next day at school she finds out Harvey already has a date so Sabrina goes back to her aunts who set her up with a boy named Dante. Sabrina goes out on a date with Dante and her aunts talk about how they haven’t been out on dates in ages. At school Sabrina finds out Harvey’s date is a model named Jean who Sabrina starts to say bad things about. Sabrina and Harvey go on double dates and it goes badly but at the end of the episode Sabrina uses her magic to get Jean to talk to Harvey again.
After watching the show I feel the article is correct in its assertion that television has the ability to influence girls and in this specific episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch I did see points where appearance was important such as Sabrina being jealous of Harvey’s date because she is a model and Sabrina thinking less of herself because she doesn’t find herself as beautiful as Jean. Though I don’t know if it was as bad as the article deemed it to be though I could see the impact that could have on teenage girls.