There’s lots of hype about the Netflix revamp, but can it maintain the same level of popularity as its 90s inspiration?
Especially at this spooky time of year, what could we 90s kids want more than another reboot of one of our favourite childhood tv shows? The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina follows teenage half-witch Sabrina Spellman, her aunts Hilda and Zelda, and of course her iconic cat familiar, Salem, through their lives as witches in the human town of Greendale.
Kiernan Shipka as the titular Sabrina shines as best she can, but the show’s form is confusing, baggy – scenes are spliced in here and there without any apparent reason, and the writing often doesn’t add up, with many characters even forced to explain parts of the plot at strange moments. Even for a piece of work ostensibly embracing horror-kitsch, the acting is surprisingly stunted, but I feel for the actors working with such a bizarre script.
My greatest concern, however, is that this show feels like another example of media-makers trying to cash in on the current younger generation’s embrace of progressive ideas and empathy. Having a white girl on screen claim “racism” is hard to take seriously, much like when we hear the phrase “puritanical masculinity” applied to the power structures of Greendale high school. It’s good to watch kids engaging with these ideas, it’s just not done that cleverly, which leaves it feeling preachy, and above all, ingenuine. While these sentiments are important and real in our world, to transfer the connotations and violence associated with them to fantasy – and worst of all, such badly written fantasy – seems insulting to the real-life consequences people face because of such ideas.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is, basically, what would happen if Buffy was part of the Addams family, lived in Twin Peaks, and might one day be able to visit Hogwarts. Maybe this show is geared toward a younger demographic, and my opinion is already dated, but I’d much rather see Melissa Joan Hart speaking to an animatronic cat dressed in costume than wade through any more of this faux-horror glamerican gothic.
All ten episodes of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are available to stream on Netflix now.