You probably have some vague ideas of what a show centered around Sabrina, the teenage witch, might involve. Blonde hair, sparkling potions, classically American love interests, and wasn’t there a talking cat? Well, Netflix’s recent reboot of the comedic nineties show give us all of this, but with a healthy shovelful of the darkly comedic cynicism.
While the original was fun loving and fancy free, reflecting the optimistic feel of the 90’s, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina doesn’t shy away from tackling difficult social issues and the inner emotional struggles we all face. In this sense, it is very much the dark hot chocolate to the original’s strawberry milkshake.
Anyone else watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina? I loved Sabrina the Teenage Witch, so it's strange to see them as Satanic. lol
— Alexis (the FAM) (@ParamysticalOne) November 11, 2018
The series plunges us into the lives of the Spellman family, and the town of Greendale, where Sabrina, her two aunts, played by the fabulous Lucy Davis (as Hilda) and Miranda Otto (as Zelda), and her housebound cousin, Ambrose, attempt to navigate their devilish world. The maniacal see-saw between their witching and human communities produces catastrophically fraught results, with Sabrina pushing the pedal all the while.
Created by the same people as Netflix’s successful series Riverdale, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a luscious visual treat, pairing a ditsy soundtrack of nostalgic sixties tunes with community tragedy and personal torment. This particular dark brand of enchantment chimes well with its uniquely human characters, whose multifaceted characterisations again demonstrate the show’s dedication to a relatively modern approach to what would conventionally be seen as a young-adult show.
Whilst the show can at times verge on melodramatic, including a rather bizarre episode involving a released demon and, at times, questionable British accents (here’s looking at you Ambrose), this exaggerated tone appears at times almost self-conscious, allowing us to see the events of the series through the magnified lens of an adolescent, deciding who and what they want to become. Because this is the central question around which the series inevitably revolves; which path will Sabrina Spellman choose, the path of the light, or the dark, and which, if any, is really the right one?
It might interest the reader to note, post your inevitable weekend binge, that in the original series produced in the 1990’s, Sabrina had an evil twin, Katrina Spellman. Perhaps this is what the show aims to tell us, that while this balance may remain inevitably out of reach, we can still have a damn good time, teetering up there on the edge.
— Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina (@TheCAOSabrina) November 14, 2018
Images: papelpop.com, Vulture