By The Nerdling
Witches. Demons. And Satan. Oh, my! The adaptation of the comic series with the same name (and spin off of The CW’s Riverdale) does not shy away from the super dark plotline of Sabrina Spellman. The young half-witch, half-mortal on the eve of turning 16 must decide if she is going to sign her life away to Satan. If she does, she will be granted more power, but she will have to leave her life in Greendale. This includes her two best friends, proud feminist Roz and gender-identity questioning Susie, as well as her bland-as-Karen’s-potato-salad boyfriend, Harvey.
The first two episodes deal with this conundrum of Sabrina’s. It wasn’t until the very end of the second episode I finally start to like Sabrina and the series itself. At first, she is portrayed as not wanting to leave because of all the loooooove she has for Harvey. This already becomes problematic for me since I really hate the message that sends. They are in high school, dial back the true love stuff a bit. It doesn’t help that Harvey’s personality resembles wet cardboard.
When at her baptism into The Church of Night, Sabrina chooses not to sign her name away to keep her free will. She finds herself questioning why Satan wouldn’t want women to have both freedom and power. “He’s a man, isn’t he?” Prudence, the leader of the Weird Sisters and easily the most interesting character on the series, tells sweet Sabrina. After much back and forth, the series shifts to having Sabrina explore her witchy side while remaining in Greendale. This does have its consequences as the darker realm starts to permeate the small town.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina manages to do what most all of the Netflix series has failed in accomplishing. A complete season from start to finish. Many of the original shows produced by the streaming service feels three episodes too long, drags in the middle, or has an awesome start, only to fizzle by the end. Sabrina manages to stay interesting for the full 10 episodes.
Most of the characters are well done and add lots of personality to an already interesting premise. Sabrina’s cousin, Ambrose, is an absolute scene stealer. It is nice to see a gay character who has his own arc in finding love which has nothing to do with the overall plot. Aunt Hilda and Zelda contrast one another perfectly. Hilda is sweet and a little silly. Zelda is intense and reverent in her love of The Dark Lord. Their love/hate relationship perfectly displays the old saying “we hurt the ones we love the most.”
The series does have its issues (Salem doesn’t talk!). The biggest one is how the show starts off treating Prudence, the most seen African-American witch. She bullies the white Sabrina, calling her half-breed (an insult which becomes jarring once Prudence’s story is revealed), and attempts to run her off from the magical realm. In the end, Prudence is given the greatest amount of character development. I would argue more so than the series’ star. She often reminds me of Cordelia Chase from Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel, the mean girl turned hero.
Another problem is how the series treats Susie’s arc, or lack thereof. The teen is still exploring gender identity and sexuality plot seems to be placed in the series to be able to check the inclusion box. It is a half-cooked storyline which is disappointing since Ambrose’s sexuality is not his defining trait.
Despite the issues, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is an entertaining take to watch if you:
- Need a Female Power in the face of Sexism fix
- Enjoy the 50’s gothic look
- Are not freaked out by the constant presence of Satan
The Nerdling was born in the majestic land known as Texas and currently resides there after several years of journeying through Middle Earth in a failed attempt to steal the one Ring from that annoying hobbit, serving the Galactic Empire for a time, and then a short stint as a crew member on the Serenity. Since moving back to her homeland, Nerdling flirted with a hero reputation. Saving children from the dangers of adoring domineering, sparkly vampires (champions with souls are the only vampires worth loving) and teaching normals the value of nerdom, all while rooting for her beloved Dallas Stars. Then came the Sokovia Accords and her short spell of saving others came to an end. With Darth Vader’s reputation rightfully returning to badass status, Nerdling is making her way back to the Empire. They do have cookies, you know. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.