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Is This 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' Episode a 'Buffy' Ripoff?
If a dream is a wish your heart makes, what exactly is a nightmare?
InChilling Adventures of Sabrina, Netflix’s foray into theRiverdaleuniverse,night terrors may be a way of fighting your internal battles—literally. But did episode five, “Dreams in a Witch House,” take a little too much inspiration from another iconic supernatural series?
For those who don’t live their lives one meme at a time,CAOSfollows a more tormented version of our favorite teenage witch (played byMad Men’sKiernan Shipka) as she figures out the whole half mortal, half magic thing…while also studying for classes, getting serious with bae Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch), and dodging evil spirits. Pretty normal teen stuff, right?
CAOSis a great blend of all things spooky and sexy—just check out warlock Nicholas Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood) for scientific proof. But just at the halfway point of its first season, the show decides to take on one of our favorite tried and true TV tropes: the ‘trapped-in-a-dream’ episode.
Shows ranging fromEven StevenstoMad Menhave all used dream episodes to give audiences an altered peek at the inner workings of their leads, sometimes revealing aspects of their personalities or secrets we never knew before. InCAOS, we find Sabrina, her Aunts Hilda and Zelda (Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto), and her house-bound cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) battling a sleep demon that Sabrina accidentally released from one of her late father’s old trinkets. So far, so spooky.
Throughout the episode, there’s a sense of familial healing and some seriously dope magic from Zelda, but there’s one problem: it feels too similar toBuffy the Vampire Slayer’sseason four finale “Restless,” which traps the vampire slayer and her friends in their dreams after the accidental summoning of The First Slayer.
Both episodes follow each character’s dream from innocuous start to horrific end. While the Batibat ofCAOSand the First Slayer ofBuffyreally couldn’t be more different, many of the fears that the groups experience are blatantly similar. Sabrina and Willow are both afraid to let the people they care about discover who they really (not to mention they’re both badass witches). Buffy and Ambrose both feel increasingly isolated and alone—Buffy due to her grand destiny and Ambrose with his seemingly inescapable life sentence.
However,CAOS’attempt does gives us deeper insight into the Spellmans in some unexpected ways. ForBuffy, Tara hints at the introduction of Dawn. For Sabrina, it’s where we get our first glimpse of the Kinkle family secret (shhh, no spoilers). But ultimately, Sabrina’s foray into dreamland treads over territory that has already been covered in previous episodes.
Buffy’s “Restless” pulls off the dream trope a little better thanCAOS. Squarely set in a specific time period (the 2000s), it’s easier to establish the differences between the mood and of the dream landscape vs. reality. The timing of the episode also helps. Season four ofBuffywas a game-changer in many ways for the series (College! Coming out! Robot baddies!) and the episode allowed us to peel back more layers of the gang’s new reality.
But whileSabrinauses the sleep demon to overtly explain our characters’ motivations,Buffyunderstands that sometimes the point of dreams and what they reveal isn’t going to be perfectly on the nose. (I, for one, will never understand the Cheese Man but I love it anyway.)
Maybe the comparison is unfair (Cosmoreached out to Netflix to see if the similarities were intentional, and we'll update when we hear back), but when you pay homage to such an exciting moment in television history, on one of the best teen-centric shows of all time, you need to come correct.
Video: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Episode 2 "The Dark Baptism" Breakdown!
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