Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix, 2018) Review

Witchcraft. Satanic rituals. Cannibalism. Homosexuality. Necromancy. Situation comedy. Sabrina is the darkest sitcom ever conceived, and in spite of all the darkness, still plays like the Melissa Joan Hart series of the 90s. 

In 1996, I watched Sabrina Spellman bewitch Baxter High jocks and home audiences. The show aired amongst the family friendly programming block on ABC, TGIF. Melissa Joan Hart played the title role, and the darkest topic ever tackled was whether it was okay to take a witch to the prom.

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In 2018, Netflix has given us the darkest take on this character ever on screen. Sabrina is a cute, half-witch, half-mortal, approaching her sixteenth birthday. While turning 16 is important for regular people, for a witch, it means signing the Book of the Beast, becoming a devotee of the Devil, and receiving a boost of witch power. But, for Sabrina, it also means saying goodbye to all her mortal friends, especially her boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle.

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That’s where the show derives its tension. Sabrina can’t decide between the world of witches and the world of mortals. While Sabrina leans toward the mortal world, the witch world is not going to let her go without a fight. In its initial 10-episode run, Sabrina is primarily about coming of age in modern times. Can a girl really choose her own way in the world, or is her path chosen for her? The answer is complicated, and boils down to the fact that every choice comes with consequences. And, while the show’s premise is simple, it is nested in the darkest of backdrops. Sabrina moves through murder, witchcraft, Satanism, cannibalism, and necromancy, forcing her ever closer to the all important question of whether she is her own woman, or someone else’s.

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The surprising thing about this series is just how bubbly and positive Sabrina is through it all. She has no shortage of friends and family around her to help her navigate these difficult times, and each side character has plenty of depth, from her quirky aunts to her misfit friends, to her floppy haired boyfriend, and gay warlock cousin. But again, it’s Sabrina’s sparkly attitude that keeps you charmed. As dark as the show is constantly, Sabrina keeps it feeling like a sitcom because she keeps smiling in spite of the horror of it all.

The Verdict: Look, I’m no fan of Satanism. It’s full of people like this:

But, I really enjoyed this Sabrina series. It kept me coming back to see what Sabrina would do, what she would learn about herself, and how the world would reveal its secrets. After 10 episodes, there are still many questions that need answered. Good news is there’s already a second season on the way.

4 out of 5 couch cushions!!!

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