This isn’t the Sabrina Spellman I grew up knowing, what with her sparkler-like pointer finger, stuffed familiar, and light-hearted (albeit quirky) plot lines. In fact, that Sabrina Spellman may as well have been sacrificed to appease the Dark Lord, allowing this new iteration to be birthed from hell fire. Hail Satan, am I right? The Netflix developed series, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina allows all of us 30-somethings a chance to relish in the guilty pleasure that is witnessing a re-envisioned, hard core feminist, progressive and morally ambiguous version of an all too familiar witch. While I am all about this new horrific ‘Brina, as a self-practicing witch, (for those of you who didn’t know, surprise) I still have a few hang-ups regarding the antiquated perpetuation that witchcraft itself is inherently evil and something to fear.
The first half of Sabrina, depicts a headstrong teen in the swell of her high school years who is attempting to straddle both her mortal life and her dark calling. We watch as Sabrina, in all of her well-intended naivety, clings to the notion that she will prevail in avoiding the final steps of accepting her fate and submitting her soul to Satan. This. This right here, is the anchor of my discord with the overall appeal of the show. This new adaptation of Sabrina sensationalizes a practice that is already shrouded in fear, often misunderstood, and by extreme measure, was unsuccessfully abolished.
Regarding my own personal experiences in attempting to be completely transparent with friends, I have been met with shocked looks and exclamations of “you’re crazy.” I can attest to the deep societal ingraining that the word “witch” is synonymous with “evil” (or at the very least, “lunacy”). Sabrina’s rejection, and constant battle with the darkness is what I root for, though the show unabashedly presents a kinship between witches and the devil, leading to the inevitability of Sabrina signing the “book of the beast,” in blood no less.
So, okay. For the sake of entertainment, the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina plunges head first into the caverns of hell and high school, and don’t get me wrong, I’m along for the ride.Though I would be remiss in neglecting to state that the God-fearing, ill-advised tropes of yesteryear are nothing more than theatrical devices to pull ratings. In truth, Sabrina’s trials represent a rather cliché coming of age story that tickles us to pieces with its macabre wrappings and mystical frills. In the second half of the first season, we watch our witch waver in her reluctance to embrace her darkness, an adolescent’s innate prerogative. Though we are never let down by Spellman, who continues to fight for the greater good in spite of fate, in spite of her birth right, and in spite of the Dark Lord. Nothing quite like a tiny framed blonde raising the dead and exorcising demons to get the cauldron boiling, eh?
Why do I keep watching? Vastly different from the Sabrina Spellman of my youth, this fresh take is the reintroduction that audiences crave. Dark, dramatic, sexy, and politically correct, we notice a major modern movement touching on social dialogues we are currently immersed in. With initiatives such as W.I.C.C.A. (Women’s Intersectional Cultural and Creative Association) enacted at Baxter High, the representation of non-binary gender roles, pansexuality, the act of bringing witchcraft back into the mainstream, and the fall of the ultimate dictator/patriarchy, (in this particular political climate) what’s not to love? It doesn’t hurt that ‘Brina turns into a badass, armed with a seemingly endless well of hell-raising power. So, despite my gripes regarding the absolutes of the craft that the show has presented, it’s the compelling type of culturally relevant guilty pleasure that we need and deserve. No shame in my game when I admit to others that I devoured a show geared towards adolescents – there’s really mature content, alright?
Having binged the entirety of the second half of the first season within a week and a half, I perhaps did not allow the enormity of where the show was going to grow organically. Needless to say, I am reeling, and left wondering where can they possibly go next? I suppose there will always be another way in which hell can consume earth, or another high school dance allotting for long, lingering looks across the punch bowl. Exploitation of fear aside, happy news abounds in the confirmation that the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has been renewed for another season consisting of 16 episodes, also broken into two parts. Hold tight my fellow horror/supernatural fanatics, and let us fully digest this first course of deliciousness. Oh, and be kind to your local witches, or you might grow to regret it! Yeah, that’s right; they might not gift you with the essential oil infused moisturizer they batch-made with natural ingredients! Or, you won’t get to try their homemade berry pies baked to perfection containing fresh-picked fruits! You would only have yourself to blame.
A Beacon transplant having moved to town a few years ago. With a background in photography, literature, and a fondness of nature she does well in keeping busy in this bustling little community.