Netflix succeeds in reinventing “Sabrina the Teenage Witch”


Derived from the sitcom “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is a dark adaptation of the 90’s classic. The new show is far more dark, sinister and twisted, creating a whole new world that viewers never saw coming. It also strings commentary on social issues throughout the series.
Receiving a 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, the show has succeeded so far. Although season one was released on Oct. 26, it received media attention beforehand, due to the popularity of the 1996 rendition of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” Many people expected to find just a simple remake of the same light-hearted and funny show they watched growing up, however this was not the case.
The premise of the new show is that Sabrina Spellman is a half-witch who needs to decide whether or not she will undergo a “dark baptism” and become a full witch on her 16th birthday. This is where the show really derails from the original: in the new show the witches are evil and only serve Satan, hence Sabrina’s dilemma about whether or not to join the coven. The satanic premise made for a creepy season.
Built into this dystopian witch world is social commentary on male dominance in positions of power. All witches answer to Satan, or as they call him, “The Dark Lord,” and he’s male. The whole reason the witches in the show are followers of Satan is because they believe he is the god of free will and that following him is liberating.
Talking to Prudence, one of the most devoted witches in the coven, Sabrina says that she desires “freedom and power,” to which Prudence answers, “He will never give you that. The Dark Lord. The thought of you, of any of us, having both terrifies him.” When Sabrina asks why, Prudence delivers a fan favorite line, “He’s a man, isn’t he?”
It is clear that the comment applies beyond the scope of the show and that actually a reference to the political and social movements going on right now that are aiming to have more women in higher positions of power and more women in male-dominated fields. It’s refreshing to see it blended so seamlessly throughout the show..
I believe this is why the creators of the show left the time period very vague. It was supposed to be set in the 60’s, so some things (like Sabrina’s house) appear to be very retro, while other elements like the progressive feminist views and technology, like cellphones, are all present in the show.
Differing again from the original, Netflix’s adaptation of the show has been classified as horror, whereas the original was a sitcom. This made for several good pop-up scares and Satanic rituals that will make your skin crawl.
The thought put into the script and the plot speaks for itself, and it truly is a well made show. It may require a slightly morbid sense of humor but, “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is definitely worth a watch.