When I saw that Netflix was making a new Sabrina the Teenage Witch show, I got excited. Growing up in the 1990s, I was a huge fan of the sitcom. Sure, the new show, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, was supposed to be based on a darker run of the Archie Comic about Sabrina, but so what? Some of my favorite shows are Sleepy Hollow, Grimm, and Supernatural and those all got rather dark at times.
So, how dark could The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina really be? On Friday, I got myself a pizza and settled in to watch, only to be quite surprised. Wow, did I ever misread that one? The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is much more like Salem than Sleepy Hollow. I watched the first seven episodes one after another, and then I had to stop. Guys, it’s really dark.
Here’s the plot. On her sixteenth birthday, Sabrina is supposed to give up her mortal life and fully embrace her witch half. However, she begins to have serious doubts about her upcoming dark baptism. These doubts are tied to an old mystery, her parent’s death, and a desire to not leave her friends behind. She soon plunges into a struggle between leading a normal life and a witch life, as well as protecting those she cares about.
The Good in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Now, there were some things that I liked about The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. First, the acting is great. Miranda Otto is amazing in everything she does. She and Lucy Davis are standouts as Zelda and Hilda Spellman, their performances a highlight in the midst of all the macabre. Furthermore, Kiernan Shipka is a compelling young Sabrina. I also love Chance Perdomo as Ambrose Spellman, Sabrina’s cousin. Honestly, Ambrose has some of the best lines. These four work well off each other, playing a close-knit family that loves each other. Sometimes they fight and keep secrets from each other, but they always have each other’s back.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina also emphasizes the importance of female friendship. Sabrina and her friends form a club that is all about women protecting women, and it’s kind of awesome. No matter how many times Sabrina and her friends or Hilda and Zelda fight, in the end, they have each other’s backs. There are a few women who don’t necessarily play along, but even they put aside their differences to protect other women. That was inspiring, and something that is nice to see.
The romance between Harvey Kinkle and Sabrina is also really sweet. It’s nice that Sabrina has a well-rounded life. It makes sense that she wants to stay with her awesome friends and her adorable artist boyfriend.
Furthermore, the special effects are great. It’s a good-looking show with realistic looking magic and beautiful production design.
There is something about watching this show that made me very uncomfortable. I have nothing against gritty comic books, but it was not my thing. It was way more Satanic than I had expected; Sabrina’s Dark Baptism is all about her giving her soul to the devil so she could fully embrace her powers. For me, that’s enough to ruin the show. If I can’t watch it without squirming, I have to stop. To be fair, I’ve heard that a lot of people really enjoy this show, and that’s awesome. It just wasn’t for me.
There are also questions that need answers. Why did Sabrina’s mother do what she did? Why did her father? I have questions, but I don’t see myself watching the end of the series to find out. Hopefully, the open-ended mysteries will be answered in a satisfying way.
From what I’ve heard, this is accurate to the comic The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, so if you’re a fan of that comic run, I’d check this show out. This show may also appeal to fans of dark comedy and satire. However, if you’re just feeling nostalgic for the 1990’s show, I think it’s available on Amazon right now. I would recommend going back and watching it again before I would recommend watching this.
If you are looking for a very dark, gritty, comic book show with great special effects to watch this Halloween, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina might be perfect. As I said, it’s closer to Salem and The Walking Dead than what I usually watch, so don’t let the nostalgia attached to the name fool you. It’s dark and creepy, but not in the way that movies starring Bruce Campbell or Vincent Price are. Personally, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is one that I’ll be putting on the back burner for a while.
Content Note: TV-14 for violence, disturbing imagery, some sexual content, and some adult language.
Where to Watch: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is available for streaming on Netflix.
Have you seen The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments!
Photos: Netflix, Warner Bros. Television
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