Theo Putnam: Battling demons and gender norms

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s fourth and final season is on its way. And our heads are full of what new horrors the show can introduce. We’ll also be sad to say goodbye to CAOS’s iconic characters. Especially the likes of Theo Putnam, who brought much-needed queer representation to the teen drama genre. Not only is Theo a transgender character, but he is also portrayed by the non-binary identifying actor Lachlan Watson. Back during the first season of CAOS, Lachlan gave YEM an interview on portraying Theo and how they sought to show the character’s struggle with gender norms.

CAOS has become a popular show as a reboot of a classic series and for its dark and twisted storytelling. Even more, the series dives head-first into social issues that include feminism, discrimination, and LGBTQ+ representation. Theo’s story shines a light on exploring gender identity and experimenting with the gender binary. In YEM’s 2017 interview, Lachlan expressed their excitement about working on an Archie series comic and getting to portray a queer character on the show.

In the first season, Theo still identifies by his birth name, Susie. It wasn’t until the second season of CAOS that Theo comes out as transgender. He adopts a name derived from his ancestor and mentor, Dorothea. Lachlan mentioned that, at first, they had no input into Theo’s evolution. However, as the show progressed, Lachlan was able to bring their own experiences to the table, allowing Theo’s journey to be more relatable. Lachlan pushed for Theo to be able to explore himself in the first season and discover who he was without a label before coming out.

Lachlan also spoke about Theo’s struggle with discrimination and bullying. They revealed their personal experiences with bullies and expressed never having to deal with the trauma of physical assaults like Theo did. However, Lachlan, who identified with Theo as an anxiety-riddled, queer kid, empathized with the character and gave a stellar performance in the role. Lachlan commended Theo on his fiery bravery to stand up to a group of bullies. And, to not back down from a fight.

In seasons 2 and 3 of CAOS, we’ve seen Theo progress even more as a queer character. And also as a loyal and caring friend. He came out at the beginning of season 2 as he pushes to break down barriers at Baxter High by trying out for the boys’ basketball team. In season 3, he joins with Harvey, Roz, and Sabrina to form The Fright Club. The Fight Club stands behind Sabrina as she deals with her new role as Queen of Hell.

Theo joins the mission to Hell to bring back Nick. And Theo fights to save his friends from the Pagans who threaten Greendale. Theo grows close to the charming new student Robin in season 3, and the two begin a relationship. At first Theo is concerned Robin won’t understand his transition. But his fears are laid to rest when Robin reveals his own secret. And the two find nothing but acceptance and love from one another.

In season 4 of CAOS, we look forward to how Theo will work with The Fright Club to bring down the new big bad brewing in Hell and on Earth. We know Theo to be brave and determined – a dauntless opponent even in the face of overwhelming odds. Theo fights not only a world of monsters and demons but another that looks down on him for being different and choosing to walk his own path. He’s been to Hell and back – literally – but he’s still going strong.

For anyone on their own gender identity journey here are a few resources:

https://genderqueer.me/resources/

https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/summer-2016/toolkit-for-being-there-for-nonbinary-youth

https://www.glaad.org/transgender/resources

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/

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