The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a Witching Good Time

Everybody knows Sabrina Spellman from her quirky persona in Archie Comics, her infamous cartoons, and hilarious nineties comedy, but you’ve never seen Sabrina quite like this.

Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has adapted the classic comic series into a thrilling supernatural teen drama. The show follows a young and ambitious Sabrina Spellman as she attempts to balance her two livelihoods of mortal and witch. On the night of her sixteenth birthday, she must decide whether or not to abandon her mortal life and sign the Book of the Beast, which would entail pledging full allegiance to witchcraft and the dark lord. Although it is an unusually dark adaptation of the well known comic book character, the show has plenty to offer it’s viewers.

The series is set in the fictional town of Greendale, a somewhat timeless place, which Chilling Adventures star Ross Lynch discussed in an interview with Elle: “It’s a timeless show. Whenever you watch it, it feels like it’s then and there.” The 60’s aesthetic combined with modern day elements makes for a very adaptable atmosphere. The show is set in the same universe as the CW’s Riverdale, with multiple references to the neighboring town scattered throughout episodes. This could hint at a possible crossover event between the two shows. It almost feels as if Archie Comics is trying to create their own Marvel Universe of teen television, which will be interesting if they can pull it off without the combination of characters feeling forced or unrealistic.

The story has much to explore, from Sabrina’s future in the hands of the witch community to the mysteries behind her “half breed” lineage. The series tackles tough subjects like sexism, identity, religion, the questioning of tradition, familial abuse, and loss. These topics are portrayed with much thought and a deep sense of authenticity.

Although the show centers around Sabrina and her struggles, every character has an arc of their own to be explored. One of the most unique arcs would be that of Sabrina’s friend, Susie Putnam, and her exploration of gender identity. Susie Putnam is played by non binary actor Lachlan Watson. In the show, there are multiple hints that Susie does not quite fit the gender binary, or the identity of male or female. Watson says that Susie is still figuring themselves out and will come to terms with their gender identity in the second season. It is incredibly refreshing to see a series with such a wide platform tackle the discussion of gender in an open-minded nature. The character is not currently constricted to a specific label, and is given room to figure themselves out.

The relationship between Sabrina and her mortal boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle, is unlike many stale and stereotypical teen romances in young adult media. Harvey treats Sabrina as her own person, not a prize to be won. There is a common misconception that teen romance in shows is only engaging when it includes angst, instability, and arguments.  However, Sabrina and Harvey’s relationship portrays what’s truly important when it comes to romance: trust, care, and communication. Harvey and Sabrina are not ashamed to share their feelings with each other and discuss their concerns and anxieties without the fear of judgement from their partner. It is incredibly important for teenagers watching this series to see a well-crafted depiction of what a healthy relationship should look like.

An element of the show that has angered many fans of the 1990s Sabrina series is the absence of a talking Salem. In the original sitcom, Salem was a warlock contained in the body of a talking cat to serve out punishment for his crimes. His sassy banter was a memorable part of the show, and became a stamp in television history. In Chilling Adventures, Salem is Sabrina’s familiar- a goblin that takes the form of an ordinary pet to aid and serve a witch. In this rendition however, Salem doesn’t do much more than meow from time to time. Salem’s iconic personality is an element that many fans wish had been included in the reboot, but in all actuality, a talking cat wouldn’t quite fit the style of the new series.

All in all, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is worth the watch. It is plot-driven without sacrificing the development of its characters. The show shines a new light on young adult television with it’s diversion from common archetypes and basic storylines. Now, open up a new tab and give Netflix’s spellbinding series a try. But be warned, your Sabrina binge may keep you up past the witching hour.