Dec 1, 2015

Sabrina the Teenage Witch

Between 1996 and 2000, the TGIF adaption of the Archie Comics character Sabrina the Teenage Witch was the most gay-friendly of the 1990s teencoms, and not just because of the gay symbolism of outsider-with-a-secret, such as we see in that other witch sitcom, Bewitched.

It featured a surprising number of gay-friendly actors.  I met Nate Richert (Sabrina's on-off boyfriend, Harvey) at a gay club in West Hollywood, and Jenna Leigh Green (her evil nemesis, Libby) spoke at UCLA during National Coming Out Week in 2000.

And references to gay people.  In the first episode, Sabrina's aunts explain that they are "sisters, not an alternate couple."  In "Dream Date," Sabrina is wandering the hallways looking for a boy to date.  She casually asks "I wonder if that guy is taken?" Harvey says "Yeah, by that guy," thus making history by marking the first gay romantic couple in any teencom.

In "Sabrina the Teenage Boy," Sabrina transforms herself into a boy named Jack to find out what guys talk about.  Jack has retained Sabrina's desire for boys.  When he accidentally exclaims that a baseball player is "hot," Harvey stares in shock,so he quickly redeems himself by claiming that he meant the player's athletic prowess.  But when the spell starts to fail, giving Jack makeup, Harvey says: "Your mascara is running.  It doesn't bother me, but the guys will razz you."  Apparently he has gotten used to the idea that his new friend might be gay.

Sabrina had no homoromantic couples in the tradition of Saved by the Bell or Boy Meets World, but in the fall of 1999, muscle jock Brad (Jon Huertas, who has played gay several times) moves to town, and falls into love-at-first-sight with Harvey. Their sizzling on-screen chemistry leaves little doubt that their attraction is both physical and romantic.  They spend the rest of the season joyously making plans to be together tonight, tomorrow night, every night, while Brad and Sabrina jealously snipe at each other, and each devises schemes to get the Harvey out of the other's clutches.

In the fall of 2000, Sabrina moved from ABC to the WB Network, the writers were replaced, along with most of the cast, and Sabrina becomes aggressively homophobic. She goes to the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and is disgusted by a man in the audience wearing garters!

 Her friend tells about how he met a girl and discovered while they were kissing that he was really a dude.  He thinks it's a funny story, but Sabrina grimaces in disgust.  Kissing a dude?  She was never so homophobic in high school.

The addition of David Lascher and Trevor Lissauer (right, in the gay-themed Eden's Curve) didn't help.

The homophobia has continued.  Today Melissa Joan Hart is infamous for her homophobic (and otherwise nasty) jibes.  In 2009 she complained about someone else taking credit for her husband Mark's song: "Mark fully wrote every bit of that song except the new lyrics in the chorus... which are gay anyhow. They turned it into a fairy love song."

She is currently paired with Joey Lawrence in the sitcom Melissa and Joey. 

See also: Nate Richert's Kielbasa.

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