Riding on the wave of popularized and successful nostalgia, Netflix’s recently released “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is a hit.
I was drawn to this series for personal reasons. When I was born, my mom decided to let my older brother, Bobby, name me. My brother named me Samantha, but only because he thought the show was called Samantha the Teenage Witch.
I enjoyed the 90s version and was cautious to watch this new take, but I’m glad I did. The series follows Sabrina Spellman, a high school student who is half mortal, half witch.
Sabrina’s split identities come to a head on her 16th birthday, the age that a young witch is supposed to either devote herself to “The Dark Lord” (Satan) by signing her name in “The Book of the Beast”, or reject being a witch entirely. Sabrina has a lot of pressure from her aunts and from leaders of the witches to leave her mortal life behind, and as the show progresses, her choice to become a witch becomes more of a demand.
Coercive tactics such as attacking her family and friends and lying about the restrictions placed on the witches after signing the book are used to intimidate Sabrina.
Sabrina is hesitant because she doesn’t like the idea of trading her freedom for power.
At the beginning of the series, we see that Sabrina has very strong ties to her mortal identity: her friends and boyfriend. Her hesitation is evident in the way she keeps her birthday and the implications that come with it from her friends. She also expresses her uncertainty by talking with her boyfriend and her aunts about her doubts.
Her unease turns to panic when she flees from the ceremony on her birthday and refuses to sign “The Book of the Beast” due to her increasing distrust of the other witches. This distrust for them constantly haunts Sabrina throughout the show.
“You get a girl that is supposed to have evil in her nature, but knows what morals she wants to hang on to,” freshman Melina Every said. “She’s going against what she’s been taught because she knows something is wrong and it’s inspiring.”
-freshman Melina Every
Sabrina is a bit of a walking, talking contradiction; she is supposed to conform to the ideals of a satanic group, but longs to do what is right and values her independence. Her character undergoes a change in the series, but overall is very headstrong, and very much herself. The cast gave strong performances, and played these interesting characters well.
“I was honestly really scared to watch it at first, but the more I watched, the more I liked it,” senior Mackenzie Derosa said. “Some of the ‘creepier’ parts did go a little too far, but I really enjoyed it overall, and love the path they’re taking.”
The show is not without its faults. I felt as though some parts were shockingly gory and surprised me with their intensity. The first few episodes give off more of a campy, coming of age feel, so the interjection of those harsh plot points was surprising. This twist in expectations is not necessarily bad, maybe this misdirection was intentional.
This retelling of Sabrina has a harder, darker edge to it and the horror and gory aspects made sure that I never got too comfortable while watching the show. I was shocked by a character’s actions multiple times, and then I had to remind myself that they literally worship Satan. Needless to say, this series is for those who enjoy horror and not for the faint of heart.
Season one is currently streaming exclusively on Netflix.