Netflix released its new series, “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” offering an eerie twist on the original cult-favorite TV show, “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” Although the characters and plot of the show are loosely based off of the original show, Netflix’s new series presents a very different perspective that is as chilling as the title indicates. Fans of the original show will find many differences and may be disappointed if they are looking for a “faithful” remake of the original. But despite these differences, “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” has a refreshing relevance to its characters and storyline.
Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) is debating whether to continue her life as a typical teenager living in Greendale or to commit to the “Church of Night” and continue her family legacy of witchcraft — a decision she will have to make on her 16th birthday. Sabrina lives a seemingly normal life with her two aunts and is madly in love with her boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch). As a witch, Sabrina would have to give up this life and any human contact, stay celibate and leave her regular high school for the Academy of Unseen Arts. However, after her parents’ death in an accident years ago, Sabrina feels a strong urge to follow the same path as them, thinking that this will bring her closer to them.
Despite these differences between Sabrina and the typical teenager, the series still finds a way to make Sabrina’s issues relatable to the audience, impressively incorporating modern issues into fantasy. Although Sabrina wants to please her parents, she also makes it a point to stay informed about both of her paths — attempting to avoid any bias from her family — so that she can make her own decisions. She makes it clear she wants to understand what exactly the “Church of Night” consists of. Sabrina questions why the Dark Lord should have the power to decide what choices she makes about her body.
At the same time, she does not want to prioritize her boyfriend over her future as a witch, and understands that her feelings for him are playing a role in her difficulty with determining her future path. Sabrina grapples with finding the balance between her family and their strong connection with witchcraft, with her relationships with non-witches.
Putting even more of a twist on the original, “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” offers a new politicized version of Sabrina. The show paints her as a strong woman who fights against injustices that she and her friends face. She refuses to be complacent and attempts to make a difference in her high school community, which is dominated by white male athletes. In one episode, Sabrina spots her friend, Susie (Lachlan Watson), crying in the locker room after four football players attempted to pull up her shirt against her will. Sabrina immediately goes to the principal, who neglects to take any actions to protect students who feel their identities are unwelcome in their white male-dominated high school. Deciding to take action, Sabrina starts a club with her friends called the Women’s Intersectional Cultural and Creative Association (WICCA) to take a stand against this power dynamic.
To get the group approved, Sabrina curses the principal into taking a day off and gets his female substitute to approve the club. Sabrina challenges gender roles by not only refusing to conform to the patriarchy of her high school, but also exercising her power as a witch to do so.
A combination of politically-savvy and scary, “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” offers a refreshing and different perspective on “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” Despite many differences, the show’s new take on a classic holds a sense of relatability and relevance that won’t disappoint, and will keep you on the edge of your seat.