Everybody’s Favorite Witch is Back
'Sabrina the Teenage Witch' is getting a reboot in October, but it's nothing like the original.
When thinking about magic and spells, it all sounds adventurous and fantastic. However, where do these powers come from? People aren’t naturally born with powers; Spider-Man was bitten by a Spider, Daredevil lost his sight to nuclear waste, etc. Witches are no exception. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will reveal how the girl got her powers, and by the looks of the trailer, it doesn’t look like they were given to her by a fairy godmother.
The original show, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, was a classic in the late 90s. Rising out of the Golden Age for Sitcoms, the show revolved around a young adolescent girl who lived a normal life while having powers. Everything was cheery and innocent with a backstory that was just as joyful. Its lighthearted tone made it look like a continuation of Saved By the Bell! Sabrina and her talking cat became childhood favorites. Now, they’ll be the center of kids’ worst nightmares.
Traditional folklore and concepts about witchcraft have always arisen out of Satanism. Religious institutions proclaimed that different traits and abilities were born from the Devil. For example, an abnormally large mole or disability could have been justified by the church as marks of the Devil. These “heretics” were then burned at the stake for being nothing more than different. America has obviously progressed from the Salem Witch Trial period, but the history and stories remain the same. The Netflix show will utilize these prehistoric beliefs to create a Sabrina who’s complex, to say the least.
Up from the flames of Hell will arrive a new anti-hero.
Compelling stories have imperfect characters. By making Sabrina, played by Kiernan Shipka, a witch who draws her powers from maleficent beings, she is already a complicated protagonist to root for. The writers have to convince the audience to support and sympathize with them during their quests. My guess is that the creative team will exploit this by demonstrating a Sabrina with morality. Although she has dark powers, she can use them to help others. The new Sabrina will blur the lines between good and evil (if there even is a difference).
Shipka will have a fantastic time playing this character that’s for sure. Since it’s an entirely refreshing perspective on the young witch, she’ll be able to give the character a personal flair.
There isn’t anything innocent about this Sabrina, and this might sound awfully familiar—maybe it should, because Riverdale did the same with the Archie comics. The shorts barely went beyond two girls fighting over the same boy, but the popular teen drama suddenly throws murder, pedophilia, and corruption into the mix. To say it’s a darker take on the idea is an understatement.
Riverdale had a strong first season; the characters were very well casted, and the story was fresh. Not just that, but the nostalgia’s awe factor was still in play. It was interesting to see an imperfect Archie display both a sense of leadership and naivety. Cole Sprouse has been an iconic representation of Jughead and gives the character a charisma that was absent in the comics. The cinematography and lighting of the show were spectacular, as well as neons became everyone’s favorite ambiance. However, then came its second season, and the show’s potential started to collapse.
This isn’t the fault of the cast, but it’s due to the storytellers. Random events were put into the series to distract from the development of the central tension, and it wasn’t just cliche—it was plain bad. To give a taste: the prison in the show is called… wait for it… SHANKSHAW prison. Cue the cringe.
With the early success of Riverdale the executive producers then searched for another 90s favorite to ruin—I mean develop. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was supposed to be intertwined with the Riverdale universe. It was set up throughout the second season with an eerie sense of Greendale. However, with CW already approving DC spin-offs across its entire lineup, the last thing they needed was a Riverdale one. Instead, the show will be released as a completely separate entity by Netflix. Since CW already built the expectations for its release, seeing the project dismantled would have been a tragedy. Luckily, since the television network can’t afford it, the streaming platform came to save the concept in the end.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is only the newest of teen shows. With this genre comes the responsibility to establish Sabrina’s presence and journey growing up with the most evil of monsters, high schoolers. If the series emphasizes only the occult and horror, then it will lack the appeal and support that the show deserves. The horror of this show shouldn’t be from the magical origins, but from the terrifying realities of growing up—witchcraft is just window dressing.
Can Sabrina break the mold and survive beyond her first year? We will have to wait for October 26th to find out.