In between writing, reading, and gaming I have been watching a few shows and movies on the various streaming services I’m subscribed to. What has dominated my TV screen are shows or movies about teenagers. While I may be past a certain age to be watching this genre I often find some comfort in seeing teenagers discover love for the first time, figuring out their identity, and come of age by the end of the story. Appropriately, two of Netflix’s well received original show and movie have recently finished their run with the streamer—Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Did both of these originals get a proper sendoff?
I’ve mentioned both of these series on my blog either as a review or a casual mention. Interestingly enough Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before both debuted in 2018 with critics finding something to love about the two different teen properties. Sabrina had a refreshing and darker take on the beloved Archie Comics series and To All the Boys was adapted from a YA book series by Jenny Han with an Asian American character at its center. Both pull you into their stories with a good cast of characters you want to follow all the way to the end.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s final chapter released on Netflix at the end of 2020 with Sabrina and her coven dealing with an end of the world type of situation in the form of the dreaded Eldritch Terrors. It started off strong with the introduction of each new terror in every episode. About mid-way into the season further development and relationships started feeling rushed, as if the creators were trying to cram everything they wanted in eight episodes. This sprint to the finish line led to one of the most disappointing finales I’ve ever seen.
I won’t spoil what happened in Sabrina’s final episode but I found the ending unexpected with an even more problematic insinuation in its final scenes for one character in particular. I remember sitting there in disbelief and wholly unsatisfied. Reviewers of the final eight episodes seem to agree that the ending did a great disservice to a number of characters and their story arcs. Either they were underdeveloped or went off the rails in a bid to tie up loose ends.
I believe the show runners didn’t expect Sabrina to be canceled by Netflix and were scrambling to adapt to the circumstances and give the whole series a conclusive ending. Whatever it was the series suffered from a very weak and forgettable conclusion to a really good reinterpretation of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
Luckily To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was spared from the unfortunate fate Chilling Adventures of Sabrina went through, and managed to deliver a wonderful ending for the movie’s heroine Lara Jean Covey.
After the huge success of the first movie it was a no brainer for Netflix to immediately go ahead with the adaptation of Han’s remaining two books in her YA series. Filmed back-to-back and finished just before the global pandemic hit, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You came out last year and the final movie To All the Boys: Always and Forever came out just before Valentine’s Day this year.
P.S. I Still Love You had a love triangle with Lara Jean (Lana Condor) torn between her boyfriend Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) and her growing attraction to former classmate John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher), who happened to be one of the accidental recipients of her secret love letters that kick started the whole story of the first film. While the second movie of the trilogy was an enjoyable watch, I found this one to be the weakest of the three films, especially how they kind of shaft the John Ambrose character at the very end of it. Always and Forever, thankfully, went back to basics and somewhat recaptured some of the magic that made the first movie memorable.
The final movie addressed everything a normal teenager would be thinking about — college admissions, prom, and graduation — which would be fairly simple for someone getting ready to step out into the world. But for Lara Jean, it might be a lot more complicated when a college she’s drawn to may put 3,000 miles between her and Peter.
Part of what worked for Always and Forever, that I think made P.S. I Still Love You stumble a bit, was putting the focus back on Lara Jean and Peter. The heart of this trilogy has always been Lara Jean and Peter and the unique situation that brought them together in the first place. P.S. I Still Love You’s conflict stems from a love triangle I felt wasn’t needed at all and was added to put their new relationship to the test. Then there was the ending. Unlike Sabrina in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Lara Jean got an ending that honored the character and the growth she experienced throughout all three films. It was realistic but hopeful in that Lara Jean and Peter’s love will endure.
Now that these two standout Netflix series have come to an end I’m a bit sad I’ll never see the cast assembled together in the same way they were for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. No matter how either of them ended, good or bad, I don’t regret taking a chance on these series. Let’s hope my next great YA series will be right around the corner!
Have you watched Chilling Adventures of Sabrina or To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before? Were you satisfied with how they ended?