When Netflix announced it was adaptingÂ The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, ’90s kids went nuts. What could be better for the nostalgia-fueled zeitgeist than a revival of TGIF faveÂ Sabrina The Teenage Witch, right? Here’s the thing, though: It’s not that. In fact, it’s anything but that, and with the countdown ticking toward the premiere, it’s time to make sure people know it.Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is adapted from the comics of the same name. The horror-centric series are distinctly more grown-up than Archie Comics fans might realize. Seriouslyâ€”everything from grief to group sex is written directly into the story. Plus, the Spellmans are part of an ancient devil-worshiping coven that loves it some bloody rituals. This new show is equal parts dark and campy, set somewhat out of time while remaining seemingly timeless. And though it still takes place in Greendale, the opening narration intones that the town “always feels like Halloween.” (Don’t worry, though: This time around, Harvey Kinkle is even cuter.)Here’s just about everything ’90s kids need to know aboutÂ The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina before it premieres on October 26. No spoilers!
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina isÂ dark â€” in color, tone, and content.
Once again, for the cheap seats: It’s not a brightly-lit, family-friendly half-hour. Each episode ofÂ Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is indeed a chillingÂ 50-minute look into the complicated life of Sabrina Spellman. On the cusp of her sixteenth birthday, everyone’s favorite teenage witch is preparing for a dark baptism in which she’ll pledge her life, body, and soul to the Devil as part of her full-time entry into her coven. There are murders. Demon possession. Jump scares. Body horror. It’s delightful! It really is. It balances the scares and the camp and the witches and romance in near-perfect harmony.Â Sabrina isÂ instantly binge-able and just spooky enough to make your Halloween screams dreams. It is not a revival or reboot of any existing Sabrina movie or TV series. You can’t say you weren’t warned about this.
It isn’tÂ notÂ gory.
Without giving too much away, there’s a lot of blood in this show. A solid amount. Enough to satisfy those intrigued by gore, and just enough to wig out viewers that maybe weren’t expecting it. It’s used in witch rituals, but there are also flashbacks, visions, and the briefest of cannibal moments, so it’s something to be prepared for. Also, the Spellmans own a mortuary, so there’s that to be aware of too.
Salem doesn’t speak!
That isn’t the internet trying to fool you: Salem genuinely doesn’t speak. Everyone loves the wisecracking cat of the ’90s, but this Salem is mostly silentâ€”apart from his spooky introduction, that is! Salem is still Sabrina’s “familiar,” but he’s so much more than the show’s comic relief. He’s a curiously powerful character, and it’s obvious that there’s more to his story. Oh, and he still makes cute cat sounds from time to time, praise Satan.
There are horror references sprinkled throughout the entire show.
Remember how The CW’sÂ RiverdaleÂ is influenced by shows likeÂ Twin Peaks? Well, according to writer and series creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Chilling Adventures of SabrinaÂ isÂ Rosemary’s BabyÂ for the modern age. It honors historic horror films throughout the decades at every opportunity. Heck, it opens with Sabrina and the gang watching (and dissecting) George Romero’sÂ Night of the Living Dead. In short, expect more homages toÂ Nightmare on Elm StreetÂ than cameos by Britney Spears. But can you catch ’em all?
Hilda and Zelda aren’t exactly the aunts you used to wish for.
The delightful, bickering aunts of the ’90s were goofy, dry, and generally warm parental figures for Sabrina Spellman. In this Greendale, not so much. Their dispositions couldn’t be more different from the other’s, and they’re near-constantly at one another’s throats as a result. This dynamic isÂ played to perfection by Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto. In the graphic novel, they shut Edward Spellman into a tree to ensure Sabrina was raised with only their influence. Just something to keep in mind.
SabrinaÂ plays with religion, patriarchy, and gender in progressive ways.
As Aguirre-Sacasa and star Kiernan Shipka have discussed, they made an overtly feminist series. That’s made clear at every level of the show. The Spellmans belong to a patriarchal, devil-worshipping coven that Sabrina begins to chafe against, for example, one that’s headed up by powerful male figures that aren’t used to being challenged. Her high school pal Susie’s (played by nonbinary actor Lachlan Watson) exploration of their identity is a key piece of the show. Meanwhile, Sabrina’s sensitive boyfriend Harvey feels stifled by his domineering father, and that leads to its own struggle. “Oppression” is a big theme here.
The devil is in the details.
Often literally. Yes, friends, the Devil himself is a full-on character inÂ The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. He’s the head figure of the Church of Night, which is the religion closely followed by the Greendale coven. Not “the idea” of him, not the fear of himâ€”literally the Devil. An eight-foot-tall, snarling goat-beast. He’s portrayed as hate personified, and is extremely not a fan of Sabrina challenging his authority. Some demons show up intermittently as well, including one that says some pretty foul stuff to those visiting its human host.Chilling Adventures of SabrinaÂ season one drops on Netflix on October 26, witches. Can’t get enough already? Don’t hex anyone at the streaming service: It’s already been greenlit for season two.