Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

6 Nov 2018


Ever wonder if there's anything after the fictional town of Riverdale? Try Greendale, the neighbouring town to Riverdale, located on the opposite side of Sweetwater River, the location where our redheaded twins Jason and Cheryl Blossom went out for a morning boat ride. It was also said that Greendale is the place where Penny Peabody traffics her drugs throughout, though "she knows better than to be caught after midnight." Like Riverdale, Greendale has its own share of mysteries, one that's very fitting for the month of October.

The Story


On her sixteenth birthday, Sabrina Spellman was expected to undergo the Dark Baptism, a supernatural ceremony under the light of an eclipsing blood moon. She is given two choices, one that she was expected to do, sparking the question if she really wants to submit her free will and offers eternal servitude to the Dark Lord. Another option is to remain a half-witch as she continues her mortal life as a student in Baxter High with her friends, Susie Putnam and Rosalind "Roz" Walker, and her boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle. Torn between two sides, Sabrina has to endure her dual nature while fighting against the evil forces that threaten her family and the mortal world she inhabits.

Review


Like any other reviews I've written about the films that I love, I'm not sure where to start. The 'too long don't read' version would sound like this: I really, really enjoyed season one of Sabrina's adventures. It was dark, spooky and like the title says, chilling. As someone who enjoys quirky aesthetics revolving around witches and dark goth, I have to say that Greendale is a positive contrast to Riverdale. Although Riverdale carries that slightly dark, gothic feeling at some point, Greendale knows how to do it best. The forest, Sabrina's family and the house she lives in, the lores — everything in Greendale is feeding my curiosity senseless. It's probably safe to say that since I never read the comics, I'm easily intrigued and caught up in what Netflix has offered me.

Leaving Greendale's charm, I never thought I'd say this but Kiernan Shipka actually knows how to act. The young actress who can probably pass as a mini version of Emma Watson knows what she's doing even if it's still a work in progress. More than just a pretty face, Shipka brings out the best in Sabrina's layered personalities, unleashing that 'badass girl boss' personality as she stands up to bullies and helps her misfit friends. Life in Baxter High, the mortal school Sabrina goes to, is pretty much a heavy 80s retro pop rom-com where bullies are athletic school jocks dressed in fancy varsity jackets poking fun at the underdogs and no adult actually cares to put an end to it. As if bullying is not enough, the pressure on our resident young witch also revolves around her "Romeo and Juliet" relationship with Harvey Kinkle (played by Ross Lynch) which can be a little bit of a turn off for some people and her fate as a half-blood. While it's frustrating at some point, Sabrina's relationship with Harvey plays a significant part to her final decision.


On the witchier side of things, Sabrina lives with her devoted witch aunts, Zelda and Hilda Spellman, her cat familiar Salem and her pansexual warlock cousin, Ambrose. As a firm believer and follower of the Church of Night, a fancy label for the coven in this show, and the head of the household, Zelda is determined to have her niece sign the grimoire by blood. Likewise, Zelda is also keen on making Sabrina attend the academy of witches, called Academy of Unseen Arts, where the institution is ruled by three mean girls known as the Weird Sisters. Cheesy name, I know. But hey, at least you'd consider Sabrina and her universe as a mashup between Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer so that's kind of cool.

Another interesting factor about Sabrina is the devotion towards Satanism. Yes you read that right. Satanism is the only 'religion' Sabrina and her fellow witches and warlocks ever knew. To these witches and warlocks, priests and parishioners from the nearby Catholic church are spreading biased lies about their "false God." Instead of saying "praise the Lord", they say "praise Satan" and to me, that is hilarious. BUT I know how this particular aspect would invite some backlash if the person watching it is an avid religious. I hereby remind you that this is just a show and you don't need to take the whole occult thing too seriously because once you start doing that, this show becomes an abomination to watch.


Characters


I feel like I have to dedicate a whole section for the characters of this show. Aside from the fact that Sabrina's cousin, Ambrose is a pansexual, there is another supporting character that I find really, really interesting. It's Susie Putnam, played by genderqueer and self-proclaimed "non-binary" actor Lachlan Watson. Now, I don't usually like fictional works that insert diverse characters only to stay there as, well, mannequins to paint the show as 'woke as fuck' if that makes sense. I want diverse characters, minorities you might even say, to have layers and to have their own storylines. This is where Susie comes in.

Susie Putnam is an underdog character who is often bullied for being queer. Lachland Watson, who would like to be identified as they, says that Susie Putnam was first written off as a trans-man who came out early in the series. They, however, was reluctant with the idea. For Watson, Susie Putnam's journey in trying to discover who she really is represents their real life journey. To some people, this may seem difficult to understand (because I mean, you're either a girl or a dude, right!?) and while I agree it's pretty confusing and vague at the moment (how should we address Susie, you know?), I'd love to follow Susie's journey throughout the show so I can finally know how to address her properly with respect.

I love Sabrina, I really think that standing up for her friends is admirable. But if I have to name one favourite character from the show, I'm going to name Susie Putnam. It's too bad that she's a recurring character whose scenes are pretty limited. I really, really hope they give Susie her own, well-deserved arc in season two.


What's missing 


First, let's talk about chemistry. Kiernan Shipka and Ross Lynch are not bad actors per se but I think they need to work more on their frequency. Sure, their whole "Romeo and Juliet" gimmick is sweet but how much can that last before people start to roll their eyes all the way up to the moon? In my opinion, this kind of....thing, vibe, whatever is not something that's going to captivate the audience forever. Their bubbly, bewitching lovestruck relationship needs something more. I'm aware that Sabrina is sixteen but I demand more than just overly cheesy and woeful dialogues. Still, I am rooting for the two of them because I don't like that warlock Nick at all.

Secondly, if you end up watching it, do know that this show aligns itself with words like haunting, alluring and spooky. It does not align itself with the word 'magical.' So if you are expecting something like the Harry Potter series, don't bother. Sabrina isn't going to give you that sort of tone. The only Harry Potter-like tone you'll get is the fact that these witches and warlocks have their own version of Hogwarts, also known as the Academy of Unseen Arts.

Third, the pacing. Now, I personally don't mind a slow-burn show as long as it's able to pin me on my seat. Sabrina's early episodes, however, drags on in redundancy. The first three episodes are basically going in circular motion, only to land on the same end point — Sabrina's dark baptism. Again, I have no problems with slow-burn but I don't think this can be considered as such. Fortunately for them, the tone and aesthetics of the overall show helps prevent me from getting too bored.

Last but not least, this show is serious. I'm a serious person myself and I don't mind intensely serious shows (I mean, I love Sharp Objects) but shows like this could use a little bit of humour, even if it's a twisted, dark comedy. No tv show is perfect, however, I'd tell Sabrina to look at Teen Wolf and take a reference from the latter's sense of humour.

Do I recommend it?


Of course! It doesn't matter if you followed the comics or the cartoon because this adaptation brings out an entirely different experience, at least in my opinion and from what I've read. If you're a fan of witches, gothic aesthetics and  the way I do, I definitely and highly recommend this show. Just keep in mind that since this is only the first season, it might be best to jump into it a little blindfolded.



have you watched the chilling adventures of sabrina?

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