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‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ Creates the Monster it Originally Fought Against

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Columbia Barnard chapter.

Right when we thought the patriarchy and all things evil were dead in Greendale, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has created its biggest monster yet — now in Sabrina herself. 

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a revamp of the ’90s hit. This is a darker look as the teenage witch handles her mortal high school life and her life as a young witch. 

During the third season of Netflix’s reboot, Sabrina turns her back on all she fought for in the previous two seasons. Sure, everything is seemingly going well, but her life has turned into Hell in a handbasket — literally. Sabrina’s boyfriend was sent to Hell and used as a vessel to hold her father, Lucifer’s, body. In addition, her coven has been drained of all their powers, and her mortal friends have seemingly moved on from the days when she was the center of her friend group. 

However, like always, Sabrina attempts to right all the wrongs around her as she travels down to Hell in hopes of saving Nick, her boyfriend. But Sabrina soon begins her spiral from a preppy, good witch to the literal Queen of Hell. 

There is a basis in Sabrina’s descent in previous seasons. She never pretended to be anything else but flawed. Sabrina is selfish — she has done terrible acts in the name of “being good,” but always tries to fight against that side of her nature. And it’s this trait that has made Sabrina instantly relatable within the supernatural universe of witches and demons. 

Sabrina Spellman struggled with living up to her father’s legacy, while also combating the degrading comments and attitudes that she faced as a half-mortal, a woman in the patriarchal mortal world, as well as the equally-patriarchal Church of Night.

However, the third season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has strayed from where the show began. Long gone are the days where Sabrina’s foe was sexism. Because now, she has become the oppressor — a far cry from the earlier, more empowering episodes. 

Satan was never actually the scariest villain of Sabrina, but instead it was his followers who prevented Sabrina from ever reaching her full potential. Women are sacrificed in order to gain power for the men at the top of the coven, a position in which they can never reach. 

Even as Sabrina signs herself away to the Dark Lord (effectively giving herself to his service), a fiery spirit of rebellion ignited in Sabrina. She faced the same discrimination women saw every day, and yet she fought against the stereotypes and expectations forced upon her; Sabrina refused to follow Father Blackwood’s claims that  “the old ways are best” because they weren’t — at least not for women. 

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina began as a feminist show about a teenager fighting against the societal structure that held her back. Now? Not so much. 

Sabrina has always tread the line between good and evil, but before season three her intentions always flit towards the good. She might have been holier-than-thou — refusing to come to terms that she was a teenager in over her head, unable to balance magic and school. But despite her struggles, Sabrina and her power of good had always prevailed. 

And yet in season three, Sabrina’s good intentions have been completely soured — forcing her friends to risk their lives constantly for Sabrina to fix the messes she has made. She forces all her mortal friends to accompany her to the depths of Hell, despite insisting for the past two seasons that she had wanted them to have nothing to do with the world of witchcraft. 

Sabrina claims that she’s tired of putting all her friends in danger, but then makes them stop all their mortal activities in order to help her. So no band sessions, cheerleading practice, or dinner now goes on without interruption for Sabrina’s bidding. She’s instantly willing to put her friends’ lives on the line in order to save her boyfriend; and she clearly values his life over her friends’. Sabrina’s goals always take precedence over the lives of others— and she has become a shadow of the power hungry men who she has initially fought against during seasons one and two.

Sabrina is a consistent pattern in that regard. The flawed heroine is turned to the dark side due to her own greed and selfishness … (yes I am looking at you, Daenerys Targaryan). Yet sadly, Sabrina is unwilling to admit the power she seeks. 

Sabrina’s inability to confront her own narcissistic tendencies puts everyone and Sabrina’s own life in danger. In fighting against the old guard, she has created her own system of power where only she rises, and all those around her must serve. She becomes Queen of Hell just to save her boyfriend, confines him to a salt circle and does not tell her aunts that she locked him up in their basement. However, despite gaining power, Sabrina passes on her responsibilities to Lilith, making her aunts look to be in the wrong whenever they ask her to do anything.

Sabrina’s insurance in that the entire world will stop turning if she asks it to, and that the people will accommodate her for whatever she wants simply boils down to a God Complex gifted to her by her aunts and Lucifer. Sabrina has always been the “Chosen One” whether it was being both a mortal and a witch to accept that she is Satan’s daughter and becoming the Queen of Hell. This God Complex has only been made worse through Sabrina’s selfish decision-making, putting herself in positions of power only to neglect them for her own bidding. One cannot just become the Queen of Hell in order to save her boyfriend, then neglect the PTSD and basic feelings of “said boyfriend.” Sabrina also complains about being the Queen of Hell and when she finally gets an out, instead chooses to seek more power and stay there. When there are tough choices to make, Sabrina never makes a decision — she somehow always finds a middle ground that satisfies no one but herself.  

This worked just fine when the decision was between attending a mortal or witch high school, but the stakes became insurmountably higher when she became Queen of Hell. And because of that, her plans blew up completely in her face. Sabrina only wants to be seen as an adult when it suits her, and refuses to take responsibility when her plans backfire. It’s easier to be a victim to power than admit that power is what she truly craves. 

Everyone is a sinner in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, but Sabrina’s sins revolve around her own narcissism and hurting the people for whom she took responsibility. Sabrina hurt others, but her hubris prevented her from ever admitting her own fault. 

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina presents a woman struggling with power. Now that the underdog has taken control, she doesn’t know what to do; she has fallen short in trying to create a better world, and instead shifted her priorities towards helping herself. During season three, Sabrina became self-serving and power hungry — just like all of the men who spent the first two seasons opposing. And perhaps that is truly her greatest sin of all. 

Elizabeth Karpen

Columbia Barnard '22

Lizzie Karpen is 2022 graduate of Barnard College, the most fuego of women’s colleges, who studied Political Science and English with a concentrations in Film and American Literature. To argue with her very unpopular opinions, send her a message at @lizziekarpen on Instagram and Twitter. To read her other work, check out Elizabethkarpen.com.