Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Staying True to Character
The weekend before Halloween, Netflix released Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a remake of Sabrina the Teenage Witch from Archie Comics based on the darker comic of the same name by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Also known for writing the Afterlife with Archie comic series and the hit CW show Riverdale, this caused some worry for me.
I’ve always been a fan of the original Sabrina show and just the character of Sabrina Spellman in general. I’ve been a fan of her, her family, her cat, and every aspect of the series in different forms. The original comics, the show, the darker versions of it, I’ve loved it all. This is why I was so hesitant about their being a new show about her. While I enjoyed the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic series, I had little trust in the show. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa seems to excel in comic form, being able to write the Sabrina characters well as well as the Archie characters. Yet this didn’t transfer well onto the screen in Riverdale, where I found myself disappointed in the depiction of the characters and the writing in general. Was this where Sabrina Spellman and her aunts would end up? Mindless TV trash? I was terrified to see where it would go, if I would have to go through the differentiating my love for Sabrina Spellman with the new one to people, constantly fighting this new series.
I gave it a chance though, hoping for the best, and while there was some disappointment I was still pleasantly surprised. While I was so scared of how they might manipulate the characters I loved so much, they stayed surprisingly loyal to their dynamics and beautifully put these same characters into much drastically different settings without me feeling as if they were new characters entirely. Sabrina was still the same messy teen witch with good intentions that I loved. Hilda was still the silly aunt that never fails to put a smile on my face. Zelda still infuriated me (but with love). The characters were true to their nature, believable in the setting, and many of the new characters found a place in my heart as well.
The show in itself far surpasses the quality of its predecessor Riverdale. While they both share a lack of direction at points, Sabrina still has a strong enough plot to keep it going in those moments and always finds its way back onto the path (of light or dark, entertaining either way). It was the perfect show to take up your day as you binged it, a strong show to watch right before Halloween too and get you in the spirit, witches, demons, and all.
I was surprised by many of the decisions the show could have made, where most shows would have the entire season leading to Sabrina’s pivotal birthday, the show had it happen within the first two episodes. The main plot surrounding it, which easily could’ve been the first season in itself, was resolved in the first four episodes. While it could’ve been dragged out successfully, they also were able to do it in a way where it didn’t feel rushed and left me surprised at the choice they made but intrigued to see where they could go for the rest of the season. This began to falter though as the next few episodes seemed without a plot, simply filler episodes resembling a sitcom with random problems that would be resolved by the end of the episode and never mention again. They still proved to be entertaining, but on a more superficial level than it should’ve been for a show of this kind. It began to pick up again around the seventh episode where it found itself with a plot again, bringing me back fully immersed in the show and desperate to see what would happen.
The last episode especially was a great way to end it, constant action happening throughout to leave the viewers on the edge of their seat, and a shocking ending. While I wasn’t a fan of it due to it going away from certain aspects of the show I favored, I was glad to see them willing to take a risk and turning the entire show on itself and going a path no one expected. It will lead to a very interesting next season, one no one could expect or predict.
All in all, I admire the show for what they did not only in the Sabrina the Teenage Witch lore, horror television but in being able to write the characters we all know and love and successfully integrate new characters that already prove themselves to stand strong amongst such classic characters. I can’t wait to see how the show goes, and hope it only excels rather than crash and burn like its neighbor Riverdale.