Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: the feminist Halloween show we’ve been waiting for

Netflix's latest release mixes social issues with Satan

The new iteration of Sabrina the Teenage Witch stars Kiernan Shipka.
Credit: 
Screenshot via Netflix

If you want a ‘90s nostalgia fix, Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina won’t do the trick.

This reboot is nothing like its 1996 sitcom predecessor. Gone are the light-hearted days of Sabrina the Teenage Witch—this adaptation trades high school hijinks and comical mishaps for blood, murder, and satanic madness. More importantly, it centres around the fight for female empowerment.

Kiernan Shipka stars as teenage half-witch Sabrina Spellman, who must choose between the magical world of her family and the mortal world of her friends. Set to join her town’s satanic coven on the eve of her 16th birthday, she has reservations about leaving her human life behind and signing herself away to the Dark Lord.

On one hand, Sabrina loves her freedom, friends and boyfriend. On the other, the power of being a witch is unlike anything else. Soon, her quest to achieve the best of both worlds becomes a mission to outwit Satan, reform his Church of the Night, and bring down the supernatural patriarchy from within.

Ultimately, the show shines because of its perfect balance of horror, heart and politics. Despite challenging social issues at every corner, Sabrina remains darkly entertaining and boasts all the hallmarks of a spooky sensation.

The series has enough lore, demons, and mayhem to have viewers devour all ten episodes like Halloween candy. It then mixes in sufficient family and teenage drama, allowing the show to remain grounded in reality and culturally relevant.

Almost immediately, Sabrina becomes a defender of both human and witch freedom. In one episode, she forms a feminist club at her high school to protect her non-binary friend. In another, it’s her personal mission to dismantle the misogynistic rituals of her family’s coven.

The show isn’t just about coming of age but coming to terms with the social issues that permeate contemporary life.

Sabrina constantly questions the traditions of her two worlds and the male authority figures who maintain them. Brave and impulsive, she channels her power into improving conditions for herself and others, often flirting with the fine line between moral rights and wrongs. As best said by Sabrina herself, “I’m not an evil person, but these are desperate times.”

The politically-charged premise and breathtaking cinematography make Sabrina a well-rounded knockout. Each scene is rich with feminist underpinnings and macabre imagery—achieved by intricate sets, visual effects, and a whole lot of mist.

It’s the perfect series to watch on a dark autumn night, and may just be the socially-aware Halloween show we’ve been waiting for.

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