The Archie Comics character, Sabrina Spellman, gets a new creepy life in Netflix’s 2018 portrayal of the old teen sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch that aired from 1996-2003. The new show stars actress Kiernan Shipka and has been renamed Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018-present). The modern digital effects and new name aren’t the only things that have changed, viewers of the 1996 show will remember a cheesy 90’s sitcom with a slightly charming/slightly annoying laugh-track. However, the 2018 version is far from a laughable teen sitcom, instead, it’s branded as a dark and disturbing teen drama that follows the likes of Riverdale 2017-present) and American Horror Story (2011-present). The show revolves around Sabrina’s decision (on her 16th birthday) to either stay a mortal human or become a full witch and sign her soul over to the Dark Lord (Satan).
The series premiere takes a while to really get going, it sets the foundation for viewers to try and figure out Sabrina’s current life. Viewers are shown her perfect boyfriend, her two loyal best friends and her overall content feeling with her 15-year-old life. However, we are soon informed that Sabrina isn’t normal, she has magical powers and she is about to be reborn by the end of the week, this time as a full witch and a server of the Dark Lord. It’s only that Sabrina doesn’t want to leave her mortal friends behind and she isn’t too sure about giving up her freedom to some unknown essence that is called the Dark Lord, but who she truly suspects is Satan himself.
I haven’t had the chance yet to binge the entirety of season one consisting of ten episodes, but I have watched the first two. So far, I am really enjoying the fact that Netflix did not just make a modern remake of the original, however, I think it was a conscious decision since teen sitcoms are not a popular genre anymore. Additionally, the darker twist makes it similar to Riverdale, the original comics weren’t gothic at all, but now with these adaptations, it has bled into the horror category.
From the first two episodes, I could tell that the show is based on horror themes, the original show didn’t dwell on Satan, in fact, I can’t recall if it even made direct links between witchcraft and Satanism. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is fully committed to embracing the strong links between worshipping and serving Satan and gaining witch-like supernatural powers. They also proved that they can handle the classic jump scares, the scene when the scarecrow comes to life made me jump out of my seat. It also had some pretty gruesome scenes with the hanging bodies of dead women and the morphed faces of the Weird Sisters in the cave.
The show has all around good special effects and does a good job of making viewers feel creeped out. But one extra layer this new show has is activism and references to current political/societal debates. Sabrina stands up for her close friend who is being bullied and creates a school club dedicated to women empowerment. The show also shows the overbearing male presence and the awful power of misogyny.
Overall, I am enjoying the show and am planning on finishing up the first season. But I should mention that as I post this article Netflix and Warner Brothers has just been sued for the amount of $50 million due to the Satanic temple that is shown in this program. The Satanic Temple group have claimed that the producers of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina ripped off a particular statue to use in one of the show’s episodes. Ultimately, this is an argument over copyright claims and if it goes through to court, this group may just get the pay-out they are looking for.
More to come once I’ve finished the full first season of this show! Thanks for reading!