If You’ve Never Heard of Sabrina Collins, I’m Gonna Change That
There was a time when sitcoms were freaking awesome and didn’t have stupid titles. That time was 2010 - 2014 when FOX had Raising Hope, a show that was super freaking smart and loving and wonderful, and I’ll never be over its cancellation last year. I dare say it was the best show to premiere in the decade. Because it was such a loving and positive show, it gave us three epic female characters. One of those was Sabrina Collins, the character a cynic would write off as a “love interest.” But the more astute viewer knows that from the beginning, Sabrina was more than that. Sabrina is smart, tough, creative, genuine, and terribly insecure – sounds like all the legendary women out there, doesn’t it?
One of the things that’s so great about Sabrina is that she’s gleefully weird. She’s a real weirdo, and she’s OK with that. She comes from a multi-million dollar family, but all that high society stuff doesn’t appeal to her. A picture where everyone’s matching and smiling? That’s not what Sabrina wants. She prefers it when things are out of the ordinary. She likes when people are considered “crazy.” That’s not because she likes to make fun of them. Oh, no. Sabrina likes weird because she would be bored with anything else. She’s the kind of character who reminds us that “weird” isn’t an insult. It’s a compliment because it implies that the weird is one with the joy. Only a gleefully weird person would pretend to be a Russian lady on a trip to Vegas just ‘cause. She’s always willing to put on a show or take part in a crazy scheme because it brings her joy. And why shouldn’t it? It just showcases her creativity more. Oh, let’s talk about Sabrina’s creativity for a spell. She’s a natural-born writer, which I’m inclined to mention. It always makes me so mad that this wasn’t explored more, but it’s clear from the beginning that Sabrina loves words and wants to use them a lot. It’s like Jimmy said. She could win an Oscar. I’d like to think that she and Jimmy are writing and illustrating children’s books together now. That’s what Sabrina is meant to do. She’s meant to have ideas and write about them. I mean, the Hillary Clinton play was freaking awesome. Imagine how much else she could do. Couple that with her eccentric personality, and you’ve got the next Newbery medal winner.
Sabrina could be a Vampire Slayer if there were vampires in Natesville. She is so strong and determined, and I am thankful that even for four, short years, she was a character on television. We need more tiny, physically strong characters like her, and I’m not just saying this because (as we all know) I’m a Buffy person. There are so many girls out there who look like Sabrina who think they could never defend themselves. But Sabrina reminds you that you can and you should. In season four, she tries to play the damsel in distress to make Jimmy feel better about himself, but she just can’t. She’s the hero of this story, and she’ll do the saving if she wants. And she does want. That’s just who Sabrina is, and I am glad she is that way. She has this pluck that doesn’t come out all the time, but when it does, I’m always like, “Did she really just do that?” And ask around – I have seen this show about twenty times. She is a maternal warrior, even if she doesn’t like to admit it. When the four, core adults in the show are trapped in the attic because of an incident with, um, mongooses, Sabrina is the one to burst through the ceiling because they couldn’t just die up there and leave Hope an orphan. And in the final season, Sabrina becomes fixated on taking Hope on a proper vacation… so fixated that she chases a big man on a motorcycle. That’s tough. Also, it reminds me a lot of the show’s matriarch, Virginia, who is fan-freaking-tastic. Sabrina is just as tough and epic and awesome. She deserves a legacy.
But Sabrina is so beautifully flawed. Not many sitcoms show a deeper side to the characters, but Raising Hope did, namely with Sabrina. The second season essentially opens with discovering Sabrina’s affluent origins and how she renounced them because she’s not about that life. But as the episode goes on, we notice that Sabrina feels insecure for giving up the money because she’s not as pretty, privileged, or educated as the people she went to high school with. As a result of her insecurity, she bullies her old friends ruthlessly. That’s not right. Even still, she discloses to Jimmy that she thinks she’s better than everyone at Howdy’s – even him. She doesn’t understand how to love herself, and when she breaks down yelling, “Fine, Jimmy, everyone’s just better than me!” it’s heartbreaking. You’re mad at her, but you understand. It’s hard to accept that you’re not perfect, which Sabrina can never do despite this moment. However, it is the finest moment on the show, and the subsequent montage to “Losers” by The Belle Brigade is genius. Sabrina doesn’t understand that perfection isn’t real. She strives for it, and it might kill her. It’s admirable to be that determined, but she’s a little self-destructive. Perhaps we should let her borrow a little Gilbert and Gubar?
Raising Hope was just a fantastic show – in part, thanks to Sabrina. I can’t recommend this show any more (seriously, it’s 88 episodes on Netflix, and my fantasy is to get it popular post-mortem so they renew it for a Netflix season). Sabrina is such an admirable character for girls and women everywhere. She tries so hard to be the best person she can be, but she reminds us that the Angel in the House is a real thing. I love Sabrina, and I will stand behind her even when her straight-man comedy irks the crap out of me. She’s too strong, independent, and clever for me to dislike her. Four seasons was definitely not enough for this gem, but one episode was enough to make Sabrina Collins a legendary character.