Maybe you’re like me and binge watched the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina this weekend because you grew up with the original Archie Comics Sabrina or watched Sabrina the Teenage Witch, a coming-of-age sitcom with Melissa Joan Hart in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Either way, Sabrina Spellman has come back to television via Netflix with a darker vibe, a strong focus on witchcraft, and powerful female leads.
First things first, the Sabrina reboot is waaay darker than its predecessor series. Personally, I wasn’t expecting so much blood and darkness, but I’m pleased the series took a different, fresher turn. They really pushed boundaries here. The focus on the actual witchcraft was a nice touch as well. In this series, we get to see more into the rituals within the coven, different spells and curses, how to summon and defeat demons, and how to actually become a witch (dark baptism, anyone?) This dark rendition allows viewers to dive into the witching world, but also stay in the mortal world by dealing with common human issues like bullying and relationships.
The cast itself is full of strong female characters, which is refreshing to see since most women cast in “horror” genres tend to just be eye candy. There are several strong female leads, from the manipulating, she-demon Ms. Wardwell to the sweet, loving Aunt Hilda to the more coven devoted, tough loving Zelda to the orphan, mean girl (who turned nice at the end) Prudence. And of course, the main character, Sabrina herself.
There is a lot of fighting against the patriarchy in this series, with Sabrina literally fighting against the Devil. Unfortunately, like most female leads, Sabrina gets stuck choosing between a handsome warlock man and her mortal boyfriend, which is totally unnecessary. Sabrina can be fierce on her own. She’s literally a witch, she doesn’t need to be choosing between men when she has to defeat the Devil and save mortal humanity.
when will the world learn? pic.twitter.com/K47TfagGct
— Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (@sabrinanetflix) November 3, 2018
The character of Sabrina has ups and downs. Kiernan Shipka portrays a headstrong character who fights for what or whom she believes in. She runs away from her dark baptism because she knows the high priest gave her false information. She goes out of her way to protect the people she loves and is eager to make a difference in the witching and moral community. She negotiated a deal with the Devil so she could have both her worlds. She’s wicked smart and wicked motivated.
But she’s easily manipulated, especially by those she trusts. She was manipulated by Ms. Wardwell to partake in dangerous situations, like going into limbo. She was manipulated by her aunt to join the coven. She was manipulated by Harvey to go to the Halloween party when she really knew she shouldn’t. She’s also selfish; Sabrina makes choices that she feels are right, without even thinking about the repercussions. It might be because she’s still a child at the age of 16, but there’s a clash between her selfless and selfish behavior.
In recent news, the series is in a bit of trouble. Netflix and Warner Bros. are actually being sued by The Satanic Temple. The temple argues that the goat-headed statue in the series violates the temple’s copyright and trademark rights, as well as injures its business reputation. In addition to these charges (which the temple is asking at least $50 million for), the temple is seeking “an injunction to stop Netflix and Warner Bros. from continuing to distribute Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and wants the statue’s image in existing episodes digitally altered.” Yikes.
If you’re looking for a new Netflix series to watch, I highly recommend the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, if I haven’t spoiled too much of it for you. Season 2 is already filming, so make sure to watch out this winter for it! If you can’t wait that long, you’re in luck because the Christmas special drops December 14th.
Also published on Medium.