Following teen witch Sabrina Spellman as she balances life between the mortal and witch worlds, “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is set in the same universe as the CW series “Riverdale”. Both shows take a similar approach when it comes to adapting their comic counterparts, twisting the show into a dark, and seedy depiction of the previously goofy characters. However, where “Riverdale’s” darkness is comical and ridiculous, “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” thrives.
It’s horror on par with that of “Stranger Things”, the series is not for the faint of heart as it tackles terror in a deep and creepy level. Gone is the quirky Sabrina who spends her days pining after Harvey, hating biology, and using her powers for pure goodness, in her stead is a satan worshiping, voodoo queen, whose power is comparable to that of demons.
Additionally, the show is quite void of humor, again much unlike its predecessor starring Melissa Joan Hart. The small amounts of humor present in the Netflix series is all quite dark and at times barely worth a chuckle. The one reprieve from the show’s intense content falls short, as the series opts out of having Salem–Sabrina’s cat companion and familiar–talk, a decision that leads to zero comedic relief. For fans of any or every adaptation of the Sabrina comics, will find this disappointing, as Salem talking is common theme amongst them.
Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina is a bit robotic, resulting in little sympathy for her character; however, by the season’s end this seems more like a character decision than poor acting. The many relationships Sabrina has are carried by the opposite party, as Sabrina’s actions become increasingly hellish and selfish.
The unsung gem of the series, Miranda Otto as Zelda Spellman is amazing as the Sabrina’s strict aunt. Otto provides a certain depth to the perceived jerk, showing an intense love for the young witch. Similarly, Tati Gabrielle has a magnificent screen presence as Sabrina’s nemesis Prudence, simultaneously striking the viewers hate and heart strings.
Unfortunately, the show does fall victim to a similar plight of “Riverdale”: too many characters. Though the Netflix series has not attempted to tackle quite as many as “Riverdale”, it still is able to pay very little attention to the story’s players. Thus, many of Sabrina’s mortal friends feel quiet one-dimensional, their storylines half baked. This inattentiveness can be easily remedied, however, in the next season. And hopefully so, as many of the characters appear to have interesting back stories that could offer up potentially insane plot points.
The series also utilizes its platform to address current issues that today’s teens may face, Sabrina the head of each crusade for justice. Touching on topics like homophobia, transphobia, censorship, and women’s oppression, the show acts as a bit of a voice to the voiceless, thus pandering to its primarily teenage audience.
A binge worthy show that one can’t help but be sucked into, “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is a thrill ride that will empower and spook viewers in the best, most bloodcurdling way.