Thoughts on The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

On October 26, Netflix released the new show “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.” The show has darker themes and plot lines then we have seen in the other versions of this story, but it was very entertaining to binge. Before I go on and talk about the show I would just like to warn you that there will be spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t watched all 10 episodes I recommend coming back!

I grew up watching the 90's version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch with Melissa Joan Hart. It depicted a version of Sabrina closer to the Archie comics one. It was light hearted and fun, and also included great 90's fashion. It had a delightful cast of characters, especially Salem, the cat, that amused us with his witty lines and humor. It was sitcom, but still was a show that talked about relatable teenage problems. It was good show for the time, but the new Netflix show is telling a serious story about a complex girl. And it may even have the potential to become the Buffy for generation Z.

When you begin watching Sabrina, you pick up on a 1960's aesthetic. Every outfit Sabrina wear’s gives off major Nancy Drew vibes, which I’m down with. Just because it has aesthetic of the 60's though doesn’t mean we aren’t given a diverse cast of characters. The cast is made up of women, people of color, and LGBTQ people. Though we could always make TV shows and movies more diverse, Chilling Adventures is taking a step in the right direction. With a cast that is majority women, we get to see strong female characters who are in control and don’t back down from a challenge. They aren’t flat characters who are just helping along the story lines of men. We get to see complex women with faults, desires, and individuality. We get to see women with great amounts of power and how they embrace that power and aren’t ashamed of having it. We get to see this embrace of power through characters such as Prudence and Madame Satan. Both of these characters don’t take any shit from the men that try to suppress them, and although they are evil and cunning, you can’t help but love them because they are bad asses who are so confident in themselves.

With so many women in the show the theme of feminism is present throughout. In the first episode we are given a taste of this with creation of the club, WICCA, created by Sabrina in response to Susie being assaulted by some football players. The club is designed to fight for the equality of all women and to empower one another. Another example is during the exorcism scene when Sabrina, Hilda, Zelda, Miss Wardwell, and the collected powers of female witches expel a demon without a priest’s involvement. Their collective female strength literally banishes evil to Hell. The Weird sisters themselves are a feminist statement. They stand together, protect each other, and accept each other. They fight against whoever might try to stop them from being their best selves. At first, they bully Sabrina, but by the end they acknowledge her power and help on another out.

Netflix

Of course along with this though we see forces actively trying to undermine to power of women. We see this both in the real world and the supernatural world. Sabrina’s principal is an unpleasant man who is so rude and does nothing to stop sexism and bullying that is happening in his school. It is very accurate to what happens in schools all over the United States. We see it in a much more blatant way in the Church of Night with the celebration of the feast of feasts, in which a woman must be killed and eaten by the coven. When Prudence is picked to be eaten, I would like to think that the writers of the show are trying to make a statement on how women of color face sexism and oppression a great deal more them white women ever do and how the Catholic Church suppresses women. Also, we see in the last episode all the warlocks gathered together by Father Blackwood and they do this unnerving chant to his new born son. That is terrifying and definitely doesn’t seem like the warlocks are allies of the witches.

On a happier note there is romance on the show (we will always love sweet Harvey.) It is not the main focus of this story, but it written in a good way. It is just one aspect of Sabrina’s life and it by no means defines her and is not her biggest issue. Harvey and Sabrina’s relationship is very gushy, but you can see that is based on friendship and respect. They both try to be there for one another and be supportive. Chilling Adventures doesn’t make Harvey a stereotypical version of masculinity; he shows us real emotion and he is a sensitive and caring person. We get to see a more complex Harvey through his relationship with his family and his art. We also get to see other sweet relationships like Ambrose and Luke’s. I love this relationship, because I love Ambrose so much and because it’s a relationship that is accurate depicts the word we live. It inclusive and doesn’t just show straight white people falling in love, which we always see! Though we only see a small bit of their relationship I think in the next season there will be more story development for their relationship and we will learn more about Ambrose which I’m super excited for!

I think the most interesting part of Sabrina though is how we see Sabrina decide to not become a full fledge member of the church of night. We see that she struggles with the act of signing her name in the book of the beast and what that will cost her. We get allusion to women being forced to bow to the patriarchy when during Sabrina’s dark baptism she has to strip down to her underwear and get on her knees in front the high priest (who is a man) of the Church night. Sabrina decides to make a new path for herself and doesn’t submit herself to the dark lord. It’s so powerful when she says “My name is Sabrina Spellman and I will not sign it away.” You get this great depiction of a brave women fighting against an organization that wants to make her give herself way. She stands up for her rights and refuses to have the life she wants be taken from her.

As she participates in the church of night, she is constantly questioning the morals and acts of the organization that she is supposed to be a part of. She is trying to make up her own mind up about what the Church of Night stands for and if it goes against her own beliefs. I greatly related to her struggle because, like Sabrina, my whole life I have been raised to be a certain religion. I went to Catholic school all my life and was taken to church with my family. As I got older, I wondered if the Catholic church aligned with my own world views and beliefs. I had to make a decision for myself if I wanted to be part of that religion. This struggle relates to many young adults because as we grow older we must make our own minds up about what we want to be part of, and though are families may feel one way we ourselves may not. Sabrina encourages us to make up our minds and be individuals, not part of a mob. Make up your own mind no matter what the cost.

In my personal opinion, I though "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" was very good. I believe if the writers continue to develop the story they can create a dynamic world one in which can make powerful statements about the world we live in. I’m excited to see the characters grow and what becomes of them. I thought the ending was so good with the hair, hell fire, and the finial wink it was so wild.  I also hope we can get Salem to talk a little bit. He could be the comic relief to such a dark show (I don’t know just a thought!) I also hope they keep making allusions to old horror movies because I thought that was a really interesting touch.

So now go watch it and have a great time! Enjoy Chance Perdomo, because not only is that beautiful British accent real, he has an amazing personality and he is gorgeous.