Never has witchcraft looked so unappealing, and it’s fantastic.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is arguably one of the most anticipated shows Netflix has released, thanks to the success of the CWs Riverdale, perhaps of the same universe. The executive producers of Riverdale originally intended Sabrina to air with Riverdale on the CW, but thankfully Netflix got hold of it. It’s safe to say much of the content wouldn’t have made it in the show were it not for being written for an alternative Netflix audience.
It was clear that the show would be a darker version than the popular “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” thanks to it’s inspiration from the new comic book series. Both Sabrina and Riverdale are based on these darker tales. I read the first few issues when it came out but was largely going into the series without much expectation, but much anticipation. Witches are IN right now, a symbol of feminine power during what often seems like a hopelessly patriarchal society, many from all walks of life are seeking the type of control and rebellion that witchcraft in it’s most general definition, can offer.
I do wonder however, how appealing it seems to some after watching CAOS. Not too far into the show I found Witchcraft to be about as appealing as Catholicism.
The organized religion aspect in CAOS might look obvious from the get go for anyone raised in a western faith, but it took me a bit. The self-righteous Aunt who puts the higher power above all, pushing you to dedicate yourself fully. The women who worship blindly, and question nothing. The men who are leaders in the faith but have darker secrets lying dormant. And the teenager who is questioning everything, tearing that world apart.
A faith that is today viewed in a passing glance as a female-centric, independent practice, is turned into just another organized religion, in service to a male power but followed largely by women of lesser power. Sabrina’s constant questioning is not just mirroring the common case of the American teen questioning the faith they’re raised in, but also a stand against a misogynistic community.
The women in the faith have powers, but are still subjected to the same horrors that us non-witches have endured (or know someone who has). A spell doesn’t seem to save you if your predator knows one too. Even Sabrina’s mortal peers make up a familiar cast of characters, teens who are grappling with not just being part of a new world, but shaping it, through their own choices that pull away from their relatives and/or ancestors. Sabrina and her friends are generation Z, inheriting a mess of a world and having to not just mend it, but progress it. The boy who struggles with his family’s past, and is still trying to find where to fit in. The teen who was born female but doesn’t find identity there, and actually finds comfort in a long gone ancestor who was ahead of their time. The girl who is coming to terms with a genetic condition rapidly approaching and what that will mean for her adult life.
Where Riverdale is in a familiar looking world, it somehow seems more of a fantasy than CAOS. Even her witch peers who could’ve been appealing to most as one dimensional props of that world, show their lives are not so black and white. Her close friends aren’t just sidekicks, they have their own stories, both independent of Sabrina and intertwined. Yes Sabrina is the core of the series, but it’s hardly just about her.
I think that’s what makes this show interesting, and what will keep it going for seasons to come.