It’s Sabrina season, witches.
October marks the month that Sabrina Spellman turns 16 in Netflix’s reboot of everyone’s favourite blonde bewitcher.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a completely different beast to its Nickelodeon predecessor Sabrina The Teenage Witch which, as you’re about to read in this here feature, is a very good thing indeed.
This time out things are darker, bloodier, and a whole lot more spookier, with those classic characters reimagined for a screen adaptation more closely loyal to the Archie Comics source material than before.
We’ve been lucky enough to watch the first eight episodes of this more gritty, hard-hitting Sabrina ahead of its release on Netflix on 26 October, so here are eight reasons why the show’s queer viewers are going to love this reincarnation.
Sabrina is a witch you don’t mess with.
When we meet the half witch, half mortal being that is Sabrina Spellman, she is days away from her Super Sweet 16, and in turn her Dark Baptism. That’s the day she pledges allegiance to the Dark Lord, and can begin her education at the Academy of the Unseen Arts.
We won’t spoil what the outcome is, but what we will say is the Sabrina we meet very rarely cowers to the ominous Dark Lord. In fact, she’s incredibly confident in her abilities, very loyal to her friends and family, and is as headstrong as they come. And if there’s one thing we love, it’s a witch who knows she’s a bad-ass.
Say hello to Ambrose Spellman…
Let’s get the obvious appeal out of the way first: Chance Perdomo who plays warlock Ambrose Spellman is exceptionally handsome. The costume department also noticed that fact as they basically have him topless wearing an open robe and trousers for the whole series.
What’s more, Ambrose identifies as pansexual, and within the first couple of episodes you see him getting rid of his shirt and mounting another hot warlock for a make out session. Trust us when we say that there’s no shying away from his desires in this series.
His role in all of this fills the void that Salem occupied in the original series. Because the black cat in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina doesn’t talk, Ambrose is his replacement as the housebound entity that is one part wisdom, one part mischief. He’s the voice in Sabrina’s ear who gives her the intel her aunts most likely wouldn’t divulge.
Get ready to scream…
The original series of Sabrina the Teenage Witch will always hold a very dear place in our little nostalgic gay hearts. The makers of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina likely expected this of the audience, and so made the right decision to completely change the tone of the show.
Out goes the comedy (but not entirely we might add), and in comes genuine horror. Within the first 10 minutes of episode one there is blood splattered up the walls. If your double glazing is still intact after the first eight episodes from all the screaming then you can live confidently this winter in the knowledge you’ve got some good insulation.
Never has the word ‘Chilling’ in a television show title been more apt. This reboot is darker, spookier, and infinitely more gory. There are scenes we never thought we’d see in a Sabrina series.
It echoes three of our absolutely favourite fantastical franchises.
Continuing the trail of thought from our previous point, if we were to compare the tone to other fantastical franchises, we’d categorise it as Buffy The Vampire Slayer meets Harry Potter with a splash of True Blood.
When it comes to the mythology of the show with its Dark Lord narrative, it recalls that of the later instalments of Harry Potter. There are also comical moments that feels rather British with its humour – especially when it comes to Aunt Hilda. Oh, and the know-it-all confidence of Sabrina has a whiff of Hermione Granger about it.
As for the Buffy influences, they can be felt throughout the whole darker tone of the show. There’s talk of vampires, there are sinister looking goblins, and it the story arc continually builds up to a bigger showdown later down the line.
When it comes to the comparisons to True Blood, we have just two words: sex and blood.
Susie Putnam has the potential to offer some much-needed representation.
Sabrina’s school friend Susie Putnam is played by non-binary actor Lachlan Watson. While the gender identity of Susie isn’t broached within the first few episodes, there were hints that it could be explored further down the line.
In one instance, Susie is found in distress by Sabrina after being bullied by the school’s boisterous football players. She explains that they lifted up her shirt to see if she was male or female. This sees Sabrina burst into the headmaster’s office to demand action be taken.
It’s refreshing (and long overdue) to see a character who may not subscribe to the gender binary included in a mainstream show – and if the creators do decide to explore that part of the character’s identity, it has the potential to offer much-needed positive visibility to the non-binary community.
Who run the world? Girls.
Following Susie’s assault in school at the hands of the jocks, Sabrina and her group of friends decide to start the Women’s Intersectional Cultural and Creative Association. Known as WICCA for short, it sees the female characters fight back against the patriarchy whenever it threatens to obstruct their freedoms.
Considering the current state of political affairs in the United States, the feminism portrayed in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a timely reminder of the everyday fight women have to endure in a society that has, for too long, always gone in favour of white powerful men.
There are popular characters here that can inspire a new generation of feminists – whether that’s female, male, or non-binary – and make it clear to them that you don’t have to take any of the bullshit that’s handed to you if you rise up together. No spells necessary.
Hilda and Zelda are like you’ve never seen them before.
The dazzling duo of Hilda and Zelda offered so many comical moments in the original series, and they do here to a certain extent. However, this updated take on the Spellman aunts puts much more tension between them.
Hilda is the more caring mother figure to Sabrina, essentially serving as the heart of the home. Zelda, meanwhile, is very pragmatic with her approach to parenting, operating as the head of the house. They both have their flaws, but ultimately they are both serving to deliver on their promise to Sabrina’s deceased parents.
What is most different about this carnation of Hilda and Zelda, though, is the friction between them. There are moments where you seriously question if their sibling love can seriously endure the way they treat each other at times.
What about that much talked about Riverdale crossover?
As soon as The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was announced, there were mumblings that it could cross over with fellow hit series Riverdale. At first that seemed likely, and then when it got picked up by Netflix some doubt was cast over it (Riverdale airs on The CW in the States).
Both Riverdale and Sabrina are part of Archie Comics, so fans would like to see the two entities meet on screen at some point. Sabrina’s town of Greendale was even mentioned in an episode of Riverdale, hinting that a crossover was being prepped for further down the line.
Well, we’re happy to report that judging on the first few episodes of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina that the crossover could be a reality. Riverdale is mentioned by a character at least once, indicating that it certainly exists in their universe. We’re keeping our fingers firmly crossed.
The first season of Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will be available to stream on 26 October. Watch the official trailer below.