One of the most common fads for television remakes in the 21st century is the transformation of previously kitschy and cartoonish stories and turning them into something darker and sinister. This appears to be a side effect of the rising popularity of more complex narratives that deal with darker themes. The success of some of this generation’s most popular shows may very well be attributed to the integration of these mocab themes and features.
“The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is a Netflix original series that makes use of a storyline that is a complete departure from “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” the 1996 sitcom it was based on. Though both stories revolve around a very special teenage girl who discovers she has incredible abilities and receives guidance from her two aunts, the newer installment looks at witchcraft in a much more sinister light.
Shipka does a fantastic job at portraying the role of Sabrina.
In this version, Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) is a young witch who has to sign her name in the book of the beast during her dark baptism in order to be initiated into the Church of Night. This can be simplified to mean that this charming and warmhearted leading lady will have to be in service of the devil in order to obtain her powers. She will also be forced to cut all ties with the mortal world.
As a half witch, of course, Sabrina revolts against the traditional rules of the Church of Night in order to make her own path, much to the dismay of the Devil who has a particularly unsettling affinity for the young girl.
Shipka does a fantastic job at portraying the role of Sabrina as she demonstrates the depth of her character– a teenage girl navigating through a confusing time in her life, as well as a young witch trying to find her place in between the path of night and the path of light.
There is also a host of supporting characters that add color to this narrative. Sabrina’s aunts, Zelda (Miranda Otto) and Hilda (Lucy Davis), serve as the devil and the angel on Sabrina’s shoulders. Zelda is uptight and acts as the “religious” member of her family. As Zelda, Otto conveys a more familial and understanding tone as her character comes to realize that family is more valuable than whatever master (or Demon) you serve.
Despite the fact that the show takes place in the present day, the costume choice is a bit more old-fashioned, which adds to the character of each individual as they marinate in the unchanging confines of Greendale.
Davis, on the other hand, portrays an incredibly ditsy individual who manages to be both maternal and an advocate for Sabrina’s divergence from the path of night.
Some other notable characters are Sabrina’s cousin Ambrose, played by Chance Perdomo, and Harvey, played by Ross Lynch. Both actors add some lightheartedness to the story. Lynch plays Sabrina’s love interest and Perdomo provides much-needed comic relief as well as a sort of wisdom that only comes from being a pitiful soul.
The setting of the show is also incredibly compelling as it depicts a small town, with its mines, its tiny movie theatre and its charmingly spooky bookstore. Its quaint and unassuming appearance makes the town of Greendale the perfect spot for the Church of Night to thrive. The creators of the show did a fantastic job of creating their set in Vancouver, Canada.
The costumes for the show are also incredibly well-done, with a sort of early 1900s vibe spanning into the 1950s. Costume designer Angus Strathie was informed by the show’s director, Lee Toland Kreiger, that the town of Greendale should be in “eternal autumn.” Despite the fact that the show takes place in the present day, the costume choice is a bit more old-fashioned, which adds to the character of each individual as they marinate in the unchanging confines of Greendale.
The addition of kitschy 1950s-esque music also aids in the creation of this theme of eternal fall and is complementary to the setting of the show and its underlying themes.
In regards to the screenwriting, it’s absolutely clever in the way that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, showrunner, wanted Sabrina to serve as a horror show– unlike “Riverdale,” Sacasa’s other creation. The whole concept of witches having their own church, the Church of the Night, is really nuanced. The integration of substitute sayings like “Praise Satan!” is clever in the sense that it mimics and counterpoints phrases like “Praise the Lord!”
The show doesn’t try to be alluring in its depiction of the devil or in the way that witches conduct themselves. It is brutal, it is realistic and it demonstrates a more complex and gritty world for the comedic, one-dimensional characters of “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.”
- Clever Screenwritting
- Costume design that is reflective of the underlying narrative
- Great performances from the actors
- A setting which is reflective of
- There isn’t a season two just yet
Photo curtesy of Brig News