TV REVIEW: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – Season 1

I am old enough to remember the first television outing of the Archie comic, Sabrina, The Teenage Witch. It was a sitcom that involved a half witch-half mortal teenage girl who lived with her aunts and her talking cat and got herself into funny, sticky situations involving magic. The new version in no way resembles the old version apart from a few character names. Some viewers are finding this a very hard transition. I am not one of them

The new version sees Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) on the eve of her sixteenth birthday preparing to sign the Book of the Beast that will pledge her life to Satan and leave her mortal life behind. It’s a time honoured tradition and supposed to be nothing more than symbolic. Sabrina has doubts though. She’s not that keen on leaving behind her beloved mortal boyfriend, Harvey (Ross Lynch) or her friends nor is she keen on promising to do whatever the Dark Lord bids her to.

Sabrina’s failure to comply sends the Church of Night as well as the aunts that have raised Sabrina since her parents’ death, into a tailspin. Meanwhile Sabrina’s history teacher Ms Wardwell (Michelle Gomez) has returned from a late night changed and very interested in Sabrina’s life, a young man has been killed, ostensibly by witch hunters and Sabrina’s mortal friends are wrestling with various problems of their own. As Sabrina deals with not only the usual teenage problems of growing up, she’s also trying to keep her witch life a secret from her mortal friends and survive being “harrowed” by her witch classmates.

I’ll be very honest and say I absolutely loved Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. It reminded me a lot of early Buffy, which can only be a good thing. It is also really, really dark and gory, like American Horror Story levels of dark. If you feel a bit weird about anything that would be considered “sacrilegious”, look away immediately.

There are some excellent performances, especially from the female actors. Michelle Gomez destroys every scene she is in and she is obviously eating up playing Ms Wardwell. At the same time Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto are amazing as the very different Aunts and Kiernan Shipka manages to hold her own with such incredible talent. Sabrina is tough and ruthless but also vulnerable, funny and kind. Alongside the strong female performances, Chance Perdomo is deliciously naughty as Sabrina’s housebound cousin, Ambrose and Richard Coyle is wonderfully creepy as Father Blackwood, the Church of Night’s high priest.

If that wasn’t enough there are some really interesting very current themes being explored from the patriarchy to gender identity to family relationships and rape culture. I have seen many reviews saying the show is too political but fuck that, life is political. If you want to watch stuff that won’t make you think then I’m sure there is plenty of Fox News available. 

The only thing I didn’t love was the very ending. I think it might make more sense as a set up for the next season but I was slightly disappointed. Possibly that was more because I was sad there wasn’t any more to watch. 

4.5/5

9 Comments

  1. I remember the earlier TV series too, and used to enjoy watching it when I managed to catch an episode. I don’t have Netflix, so won’t be watching this version, but you make it sound appealing.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. It’s a pity. I think you’d enjoy some of the female stars 😉

  2. Sounds great and a real new angle.

    1. I had a great time with it.

  3. I was extremely surprised how good this show turned out to be! Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has exactly the right amount of darkness. It is super exciting, different and I can’t wait for the next season.

    1. I am desperate for the next season. It’s soooo good.

      1. Same here! I’m even contemplating checking out the comics just to pass the time – and I’m not a comics person at all.

  4. I wasn’t a fan of the sitcom but I’ve seen a lot of it. I really enjoyed this version of the mythos which was actually a comic from just a few years ago that took this different take on the character first. I also had an issue with the ending, her choice didn’t seem to line up with what she had been working towards the entire season.

    1. I had exactly the same thoughts about the ending. It felt like she rejected everything she had been fighting for.

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