Why you need to bingewatch ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ right now
If you’ve been to Film Daily more than once, you know we have a lot of love for Riverdale. We’re pretty much obsessed with the dark retelling of the Archie comics universe (even though the Dark Betty trope can be pretty annoying at times).
Our cup ranneth over when we heard Netflix would be giving Chilling Adventures of Sabrina a similar witchtastic treatment. We don’t want to be traitors to our generation though – Sabrina the Teenage Witch is still one of our favorite teen shows of all time.
Although we thought it was a cruel trick, we can understand why Netflix chose to release the first season of the demonic show in two parts. After the first part dropped just in time for Halloween last year, we were left mewling for more.
If you’ve been living under a rock (or outside the coven) and you didn’t manage to catch Pt. 1 yet, here’s a little back story: Kiernan Shipka, who famously played Don Draper’s daughter Sally in Mad Men, flies into the titular role previously inhabited by Melissa Joan Hart. From the trailer we can tell Sabrina encounters a little more trouble than the average high school girl.
If you’re an OG Sabrina fan and you’ve been putting off tuning in because you think it’s a sacrilege, worry not: the show has been remade. It’s an adaptation of the comic series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina rather than Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and it’s wholly a darker, more mature tale. It may even be the darkest young adult show on air, or at least on Netflix.
The new series was created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, currently impressing us by wearing all the hats and killing it. He’s the chief creative officer of Archie Comics who brought the beleaguered comic book brand back from the clutches of bankruptcy.
Aguirre-Sacasa is a comic book, musical, TV show, and movie writer who worked on shows like Glee – and of course he’s also the showrunner for Riverdale and now the creator of the new Sabrina. When does this guy sleep?
To get you suitably excited for the second part of this spellbinding new series, we’ve conjured up everything you need to know to fall in love with Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
It’s a comic book adaptation, not some sloppy reboot of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
When Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was first announced, fans with precious memories of the original 90s teen show had seemingly forgotten it was based on the original Archie Comics series. Instead, they raged against yet another unnecessary TV reboot of a beloved property – without realizing it’s based on Aguirre-Sacasa’s dark comic book reimagining of the canon, making it a whole new beast altogether.
Sabrina Spellman first appeared in Aguirre-Sacasa’s Archie Comics series Afterlife with Archie, the books that arguably brought Riverdale into existence.
In the first book of the series, Spellman is responsible for accidentally bringing forth a zombie apocalypse when Jughead Jones asks her to bring his pet dog back to life. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is set in the 1960s and follows the half-witch, half-mortal teenager trying to decide which half she wants to live out for the rest of her life.
The books are saturated with gothic horror elements and feature an array of unexpected twists and macabre details like portals to hell – meaning this TV show is easily the darkest young adult show on air.
Melissa Joan Hart is all for the fresh reimagining of the Archie Comics character.
Just because it isn’t a direct reboot of the beloved 90s classic series Sabrina the Teenage Witch doesn’t mean we aren’t interested in what the OG live-action Sabrina had to say about the whole thing.
Speaking to E!, the former Sabrina Spellman gave her blessing to the Netflix Originals series. “I think what they’re doing is smart, doing like the darker version. I think it’s going to be more like Buffy the Vampire Slayer than the Sabrina that most people know. It’s an Archie comic so the rights reverted from my company, Heartbreak Films, back to them. It’s a totally different show.”
Sabrina Spellman has been perfectly cast.
By now you’re hopefully all over the fact that the extraordinary Kiernan Shipka plays Sabrina in the series. The talented young actor told ComicBook.com the show is “going to be really dark and really cool and have this very macabre take on everything. I’m really pumped to be a witch. Who wouldn’t be?”
The rest of the young cast is appropriately badass.
Joining Shipka star Chance Perdomo as Sabrina’s “witty, puckish, and pansexual” warlock cousin placed under house arrest by the witches’ council and forced to live with the Spellmans; Jaz Sinclair as Rosalind Walker, the “brash, empowered, and outspoken daughter of Greendale’s minister”; and Ross Lynch as everyone’s fave spellbound love interest Harvey Kinkle, “a dreamboat and a dreamer . . . completely unaware of the dark forces conspiring to keep him and Sabrina apart”.
In fact, the entire cast is made up of genre favorites.
The wonderful Lucy Davis (whom you may remember best from Shaun of the Dead) is set to play the warm yet wicked Aunt Hilda, while the stern Aunt Zelda will be played by Miranda Otto. Meanwhile Michelle Gomez will play Sabrina’s favorite teacher Mary Wardell, said to become “a sultry, cunning manipulator” by the name of Madam Satan when possessed by the devil’s handmaiden.
Rounding off this phenomenal cast is Richard Coyle set to play Father Blackwood, High Priest of the Church of Night with a “terrifying dark agenda.”
Salem has been cast and he’s played by a real cat this time.
It’s probably a huge comfort to hear the teenage witch is joined by her familiar, Salem. The black cat is played by a real feline this time and was one of the first actors to be cast. We’re glad the team had their priorities right. Sorry, animatronic kitties of the world – this little feline is fiercer than any furry bot ever could be.
Don’t get too excited about the possibility of a Riverdale crossover just yet.
Although Aguirre-Sacasa previously suggested to The Wrap that there’s “absolutely a universe where Sabrina pops up in Riverdale”, the current thinking regarding the two shows is that they’ll exist in “completely separate universes.”
Lili Reinhart (who plays Betty Cooper in Riverdale) explained as much to ComicBook.com in February. “I don’t really know what Roberto’s plan is for Sabrina or what aspect of the supernatural or magic will be used. I know that doesn’t exist in Riverdale. At least right now. So it wouldn’t make sense for those two worlds to collide.”
A ten-second teaser is urging us to “join the coven”.
Tonight blood will cover the moon.
A sign of something coming soon. pic.twitter.com/GKiApL4FGS
— Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (@sabrinanetflix) July 27, 2018
Though little is given away in the teaser other than images from the comics, Salem’s hypnotic stare, and some generally creepy-ass images and music, the dark enigmatic tone of the show is perfectly showcased in the teaser. Furthermore, the line “Join the coven – we’re waiting for you” sends legitimate chills through our delicate little bodies.
It’s a fast-paced, progressive, high-camp masterpiece.
The show is on a mission to entertain, and manages to keep the action progressing at breakneck speed. With its set design, colorization, and costuming, Chilling Adventures evokes classic horror, giallo, and exploitation movies, all which will please horror nerds.
The feminism and progressive politics (which felt somewhat forced in part 1) really come into their own in part 2, seamlessly blending in with our teen hero’s experience and helping create well-rounded, more fully formed characters moving with purpose throughout the show.
It eloquenty deals with feminist themes
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a show with a feminist core message. Part two of the first season manages to master the art of telling a feminist story eloquenty without becoming an exercise in virtue signalling.
Throughout pt. 1 and pt. 2 alike, we see our witches (helped and hindered in equal measures by their warlocks) fighting for a seat at the table. Sabrina at times can be an impulsive nonconformist who brings disorder into the lives of those around her. What keeps the character balanced is her desire for equality in opportunity, and the core good intentions that lie within the chaos of her actions.
It ends on a cliffhanger that leaves us begging for more
We’re not sure when S2 will premiere, but rest assured we’ll be waiting, we’ll be waiting.