Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, has been a part of children’s lives for a long time. In fact, stories surrounding the character have been going on since the 1960s. She is an adorable little witch who has to balance living in the human world while being half-witch. She lives with her two aunts, Hilda and Zelda, as well as her cat familiar, Salem. If you are wondering what a “familiar” is, it is a supernatural entity that takes the form of an animal and stays by a witch’s side.
Created by George Gladir, Sabrina first showed up in the Archie Comics in 1962. She goes by the name of “Sabrina Spellman,” which is quite apropos for a magical being, especially a witch. She has had several television show spinoffs since her comic debut, animated and live-action. Most of the shows were for children or even young adults. However, one takes a more evil approach to witchcraft. That is The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, which can be found on Netflix.
There are several reasons why this series has been good. However, the show sadly still has its downsides. It is incredibly different from other shows surrounding Sabrina. Yet it goes much deeper than the evil approach. Let’s dive into why this Netflix series has been so horrifying.
Sabrina The Teenage WitchStarting with the first official live-action movie, this film takes a teenage perspective on “Sabrina Sawyer’s” mystical life as a witch. The creators changed her last name, but not for long. Created in 1996, Sabrina’s parents have her live with her two aunts in Riverdale. She finds out on her sixteenth birthday that she is a witch. Her aunts guide her through her new life and how to perform witchcraft.
The movie is very targeted toward teenagers specifically. Sabrina likes shopping for clothes, sports, and talking about boys with her friends. The entire movie is about how Sabrina needs to beat the popular girl to get to the popular guy. You know, classic 90’s teen movies, right?
Unfortunately, this all goes wrong when Seth (the popular guy) turns out to be not-so-great. Especially when he peer-pressures Sabrina into doing something she is uncomfortable with. We know, how dare he?!?
Sabrina enjoys doing spells to help her in potentially unlucky situations. Plus, she helps out her friends from time to time as well. Unfortunately, it usually results in cheating.
The spells she uses only goes as far as making her shoes fly like the wind. Everything is harmless. That is nothing in comparison to the spells cast in the most modern creation: The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina.
The Chilling Adventures Of SabrinaThe Melissa Joan Hart-led Sabrina The Teenage Witch show was always for children, as were the Archie Comics stories. Creators take witchcraft and put a new spin on it that makes it seem fun and playful in these territories. The shenanigans Sabrina causes seem like fun and won’t hurt anybody (not physically anyway).
However, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa brings Sabrina’s life to a much darker place. Sabrina isn’t playing with fun tricks and spells. She is playing with fire and eventually Satan himself. Oh, we’re not joking!
Sabrina Spellman lives with her two aunts, Hilda and Zelda, as well as her cousin, Ambrose. She hangs out with her friends and her boyfriend and then goes home to her family. Seems fairly normal, right?
Well, not for long.
The First Episode
The first taste of something wrong is when Sabrina’s history teacher (Mary Wardwell) finds a girl on the side of the road. Later, we find out that this girl is after Sabrina and is actually a demon. She stabs the teacher with a sharp pair of scissors and takes over her body as a disguise.
We move on to Sabrina the next morning, talking with her family about her dark baptism. For those unaware, a dark baptism is when a witch signs away her soul and freedom to the Devil. Sabrina is a little apprehensive because she wants her freedom as both a human and a witch. She must learn that she cannot have both.
She goes to the oldest tree in an orchard and finds a malum malus. This is an apple that she eats that tells her if she is making the right decision in doing the dark baptism. Upon eating this apple, she finds herself covered in blood and sees several witches hung from the old tree. Satan appears from inside the tree and goes after her.
This sign would scare anybody from the path of witchcraft. Unfortunately, Sabrina’s aunts bring over the high priest of the satanic church. He tells Sabrina that she will get her freedom and great power, and she has nothing to be scared of (he better be right!).
Of course, she finds out that he was manipulating her so that Satan could take her soul. Sabrina manages to get away with the help of her cousin, but Satan is determined to collect her. Sabrina enjoys casting spells, but the idea of being evil doesn’t feel right.
Down The Wrong PathSabrina is not against casting dangerous spells. When one of her best friends gets harassed, the principal does nothing about it. To push him off his high horse, Sabrina casts a spell that will torture him with his worst fear: spiders.
Spiders in large numbers crawl inside the principal, forcing him to miss work. Something he never does.
This teenage witch is willing to do anything to save her skin. That is why we can’t rule out the idea of Satan. She may not like the sound of it now, but she is not against it completely. For what witch could, in reality, turn away from such demonic power? This is not the only time Sabrina does something really bad.
Now, let’s talk about the rest of the Spellman family. They own a mortuary, which is very apropos for a pair of witches, eh? All of the other members belong to Satan at this point, and though they seem nice, they have had their fair share of evil.
Hilda gets a call from a couple who have recently lost their son. They want an open casket and ask that he look nice. Zelda comments how it sucks they ordered an open casket because they: “have not had a long pig for dinner in ages.”
This family clearly doesn’t have much of a guilty conscience if they eat people, right?
Not Made For ChildrenWhile this show caters to teenagers and can be somewhat relatable, it’s not exactly something teens should be following as an example. Many shows that are supposed to be about teenagers often use actors that are older in real life than they are on the show. Thus, they actually do look older in the show but not old enough to lack believability.
These teens are also doing everything that adults do, with lots of sex and drugs. Now, this writer is relatively fresh out of high school and can tell you that teens were not all about sex with every person. Nor do most high schoolers use cocaine right before school.
Today, teenage shows like to glorify adult themes by putting beautiful models in the shots. Kids think this is the life they are missing, and they don’t realize the consequences could hurt them badly.
Luckily, this show doesn’t involve a lot of drugs and sex but messing with demons and the dead doesn’t sound much better.
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In the first episode alone, Sabrina teams up with some evil witches to get revenge on jocks that are bullying her friend. They tempt them into an abandoned mine to scare them, but the witches decide to take things a little farther. They lead Sabrina to believe they are going to kill them. The three witches change their form into demons and scare away the boys.
Clearly, this show is not exactly for children. However, there are still some special messages that could benefit any audience. Like how consequences can affect you in negative ways if you act without thinking. Along with the importance of being honest with others.
Sabrina’s Chilling Adventures Are Not All BadEven though The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina has a lot of mature themes in it, there is a lot about it that is cool. For example, character development is on-point. Every character changes immensely throughout the show, especially after a traumatic event. The characters are also quite diverse in skin color and sexuality.
One of Sabrina’s friends, Theo, decides later in the show that they are a boy and finds happiness in accepting who they are. This is a great message to send out to future generations, especially since the LGBTQ+ community grows more and more every day.
It’s also great that Sabrina and her friends are so adamant about anti-bullying. They create a club known as the Women’s Intersectional Cultural and Creative Association (WICCA). This group focuses on how women should be allowed to be themselves without anyone telling them otherwise.
This is a great way to teach kids they can stick up for themselves and accept who they are.
The show also deals with relatable issues like losing something precious to you or getting a disability. At least among all of the magic, there are some things that some people can relate to.
Witchcraft In RealityWitchcraft has been a part of the world for a very long time (even if there is no actual truth that it exists as imagined). It also comes from many different countries, from Ireland to Russia. Since so many countries involve some form of witchcraft in their history, there is no specific definition.
The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, however, seems heavily inspired by the witches in the late 1600s Salem Witch Trials.
These moronic trials used to involve various women (sometimes men) who were not well-liked in their community. If one saw a woman dancing naked in the forest, collecting herbs, or if they have any strange marks on their skin, they just had to be a witch. Thus, they were reported as such.
Once witches were accused, there was very little chance of them getting out of it. Even if there is no actual proof of the claims, the woman is still going to hang.
A Witch In 1600s America
“Witches” during this time were thought to be women who worshipped the devil and signed their souls away to him. Of course, there is no evidence for such a thing. Thus, the trials were all led by belief and panic rather than logic.
Many sadly died for their supposed crimes.
Women were said to have flown away on broomsticks in the night and performed magic spells. No one actually saw any of this activity, but people believed it nonetheless. If you see a woman flying in the sky, you should probably go see a doctor.
The trials were impossible to prove, therefore people went strictly off of overreacting and quick accusations. People came up with any excuse to execute who they thought was “evil.” Perhaps this led to neighbors getting revenge on people they did not like.
Witch tests were held as well, and if the accuses did not pass these tests, they were condemned. Yet most tests were impossible to pass. Like being thrown into the deep water tied up. If you float, you’re a witch and will be hung. If you drown, you’re not a witch….but you were still killed. What?!?
Sabrina: The Animated SeriesThere is another show about Sabrina the Teenage Witch, made in 1999. This show is animated and very innocent. Sabrina was a young girl in middle school who enjoyed practicing fun spells with her aunts, uncle, familiar Salem, and best friend, Harvey.
This series has no relation to Satan in any way. Here is an example of a spell in the first episode:
“Egg from a chicken, milk from a cow. Sugar and spice, make the past appear now.”
As you can see, the spells are harmless and do no actual damage throughout the show. The show’s opening shows audiences exactly what they are in for. Sabrina and Harvey are with pirates, dinosaurs, and even flying through space. This writer watched this show as a young child, and highly recommend it if you want sweet magical fun.
Instead of Sabrina being a teenager who goes through several relationships and has to pick a destiny for her future, she is just a little girl who likes to have fun. In The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, Harvey does not like that Sabrina is a witch. But in the animated series, Harvey loves it and even engages in her shenanigans.
Opinions about magic differ throughout the ages. Some people believe it to be beautiful and innocent, while others believe in its “dangers.”
So Many Interpretations!Most people know about Sabrina the Teenage Witch at this point. Every story told with this character has its own unique style and feel. Some are happy and light, and some are dark and brooding. Sabrina is a very complex character who messes with complex ideas.
Creators can take this sort of character in any direction they desire. Witchcraft has been considered as good and wicked throughout time. It just depends on the culture of the time, as well as the stories told.
While there are several adaptations of Sabrina as a young girl just having innocent fun, the creator Aguirre-Sarcasa wanted to take it in the same direction as Riverdale. An Archie Comics creation itself, Riverdale was also a harmless comic made for both kids and teens but The CW series has taken a twisted turn.
The show includes suicide, sex, and blood. Some characters even drink obviously alcoholic beverages, yet their parents hardly bat an eye. Of course, Riverdale is quite an odd show. Even its biggest fans will tell you that. Interestingly, Sabrina actually has made guest appearances on the show in the past too. Due to their Archie Comics connection.
Ultimately, The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina has something to add to the film/tv universe. There is a little bit of the teenage witch for every person. You just have to make sure that your family is not watching it with you ;).