Did I binge watch the entire 10 part series of this new Netflix original in one day? Yea, I totally did. Sabrina the Teenage Witch was an Archie comic about a witch (obviously) who has to navigate the perils of high school while getting up to hi-jinx with her aunts and familiar at home. In the same strain that Riverdale is loosely based on the original Archie’s, The Chilling Adventures are loosely based on the Sabrina comics. I was pretty disappointed in Riverdale, I think it’s a bizarre, totally off the wall adaptation and was expecting the same from this series. I’m sharing some spoilers so read no further if you intend to watch and don’t want to know the details!
We meet Sabrina Spellman a few days before her 16th birthday, a student at Baxter High in Greendale which was the location of several witch hangings long ago and where witches still reside. Sabrina is a typical high school student with her two best gal pals and boyfriend Harvey but she has to make the decision on her Sweet Sixteen (on Halloween, during a full lunar eclipse – total birthday envy) to remain a mortal or sign her name in the Book of the Beast and become a bride of Satan. When you put it that way, becoming a witch sounds a lot less cool and Sabrina starts to second guess her future as a witch even though her father was a high priest in the church. She wants to make sure that her friends are protected after she leaves their lives and takes on the tyrannical Principal Hawthorne. I’m pretty certain that we are to assume that he is descendant of Nathanial Hawthorne and I enjoyed this added historical reference. They form a women’s lib group to take down the patriarchy – a little heavy on the current events and politics here but it still fit with the story line. Everything’s going great until Sabrina bails on her dark baptism and doesn’t sign her name over to the Dark Lord which makes the current high priest, Lord Blackwood try her in the court of infernal affairs for breaking her promise to forsake her mortal life. Sabrina seeks out the help of none other than Daniel Webster to defend her during her trial, he manages to save her from 333 days of burning in hellfire and she gets to retain her mortal life. She must attend the local school of sorcery but otherwise, her life will seemingly remain unchanged.
The remainder of the series chronicles Sabrina and family as they take on a sleep demon, exorcism, the Weird Sisters, a mine collapse, necromancy and whole host of other supernatural events. Aunt Hilda and Zelda are hyperbolic versions of their comic book-selves but their personalities are exactly what I was expecting. Cousin Ambrose, a warlock on house arrest assists the sisters with their funeral home operation and Salem is the sassy feline who helps protect Sabrina from hexes and the like.
I actually enjoyed the series, it didn’t have that hyper-stylized feel to it that Riverdale does and even though the story lines are heavy into the occult stuff, they didn’t feel overly dramatic. It’s definitely not G-rated, the producers didn’t pull any punches with the Satanic stuff but knowing that Sabrina really is a good witch takes some of the shock out of the more graphic scenes. I found the idea of rebelling against being a witch because she had to become a servant to the devil was interesting. I always imagine witches as being these free-spirited women with no master but historically they are always associated with serving Satan. Anyway, it’s a fun watch with a decent cast and perfect for something spooky to watch on Halloween.