"The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" Are More Underwhelming Than Chilling in Season One

Last month on October 26th, Netflix premiered an original series based on the tales of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. From the creators of The CW’s Riverdale, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a well-known story with a dark twist. Reimagined, this Sabrina is set in the town of Greendale and follows its protagonist, played by Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka, as she journey’s into a darker realm of magic than presented in its source material.

The catalyst of the series takes place as Sabrina must choose between life as a mortal and life as a witch on her 16th birthday, the day of a witch’s “dark baptism.” Holding Sabrina to her mortal life is her relationship with her friends Roz and Susie and her boyfriend Harvey Kinkle, played by Ross Lynch (My Friend Dahmer).

Although it will likely be met with the same teen excitement as Riverdale, there is much to be forgotten about CAOS. The show runs into a number of problems. Most prominently is the unlikability of Sabrina. Her character is underdeveloped and unconvincing. Rather than the strong feminist lead she is intended to be, Sabrina often seems whiny and naive to a fault. Accentuating this is the melodramatic performances and skill-level of the cast. Lynch seems to boast the most acting chops, but even that is hard to find underneath cliche writing.

The underdevelopment of characters extends further than Sabrina. In this season of the show Susie is hardly anything more than the gang’s token non-binary friend and Ambrose, Sabrina’s cousin, is no more than the “funny gay” character. Hopefully the characterization will be developed in upcoming seasons because as it sits now, the flatness of characters undermines some of the show’s tension. Knowing little about Harvey and Sabrina makes their love story less than exciting.

Not only this, but the show has some overshadowing issues with pacing, habitually extending minute plot points and shrinking sequences of importance. Coupled with the oversaturated narrative, which is following at least one too many plotlines at any given time, this makes the story of Sabrina tragically hard to follow through all the plot holes and displaced, untimely flashbacks. Often the show raises too many questions without any glimmer of an answer.

One glaring issue of clarity revolves around temporal setting. The intention is for CAOS to be set in present day with an ambience of 60s aesthetic; however, the boundaries of the two are not clearly defined. This is important when it comes to understanding conflicts such as Roz’ health. What technology is accessible to those in Greendale?

Problems aside, the show is still at times entertaining and should appeal to the show’s target audience (although the gang’s characterization as their high school’s social warriors seems inauthentic and more like the creator’s plea for Gen Z’s approval). It will prove fun for viewers to decipher allusions to traditional works like the Bible, Shakespeare and Doctor Faustus. Already fans have taken to tumblr with theories for upcoming seasons. That said, season one’s errors are for the most part correctable and leave room for plenty of growth.