The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina ends on a suspenseful high note
Before watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, I would’ve claimed that Netflix has yet to produce a dark, serious, compelling, live-action teenage drama. But I believe that they’ve finally done it with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. This show blew me away with its quality, style, and themes.
First, let’s address the negative aspects of the show: the first two episodes are outright bad—especially the first—and it takes a while for the show to hit its stride. A lot of shows have this problem, including legendary icons like Avatar: The Last Airbender. The main problem is that these episodes center around conflicts that I couldn’t care less about, and aren’t brought up again in the season. They try tackling important topics like bullying, but the execution is pretty rushed. It feels like these episodes are padded out with pointless fillers and the audience is simply waiting for the main plot to begin. Episodes three and four are improvements. But from episode five onwards, I was absolutely glued to my laptop’s screen. It was one of the most engaging shows I’ve ever watched.
Sabrina is by no means the most likeable character in the show. She’s impulsive, irrational, selfish, a little manipulative, and makes some truly idiotic decisions throughout the course of the season. But she’s also upstanding, kind, loyal and generous. In a lot of ways, she reminded me of Naruto from Naruto Shippuden. In both shows, the 16-year-old protagonist tries to tackle dark, large-scale adult problems with naive, simplistic, and childlike reasoning. Sabrina never feels like anything other than a 16-year-old teenager, even as she’s forced to make some insanely hard choices. Unlike other young adult stories, she’s not the epitome of morality that makes all the adults question their twisted ways. She’s flawed, like everyone around her. And that makes her an endearing character.
What’s also commendable is how the show handles the rest of its main cast. Harvey, Sabrina’s boyfriend, has a pretty interesting family history and comes from a violent and abusive household—this becomes a major plot point later in the series. Roz and Susie, Sabrina’s best friends, have interesting familial histories that connect them to the occult, eventually leading to tension between them and Sabrina.
Some of the side cast is interesting too. Father Blackwood is clearly a reference to how some priests in the Catholic Church behave and view the world. Zelda, Sabrina’s aunt, is the caricature of a conservative, religious woman. Hilda doesn’t have a ton of character outside of her relationship to her abusive sister and the twisted dynamic the relationship entails. Prudence is a teenager who has been “brainwashed” into blindly following the ways of the Church of Night. Nick, my favorite character, is a cool, suave fellow who, despite having little to no relationship with Sabrina, helps her when asked to and eventually plays an important role in the final episodes.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina also has a healthy dose of commentary on religion, with Bible verses being lifted word-for-word in some cases, making for some hilarious but also poignant references to certain events in the Abrahamic religions. Also, in the canon of the show, the members of the Church of Night repeatedly refer to the Abrahamic God as the “False God.” If you are particularly religious, you might not enjoy the show as much as I did.
The show is definitely dark—much darker than either the comic books, the 1996 sitcom, or the Sabrina: The Animated Series cartoon. And there is some gratuitous sexuality, gore, blood, and violence. At certain points, it feels like the show is being graphic just because it can, even though the plot doesn’t require it.
The conclusion is astonishing. Right now, I have a better idea of what Avengers 4 will look like than I do this show’s next season. The last few episodes have quite a bit of permanent change, and I genuinely have no idea where they’re going next.
Nevertheless, I am very excited to see what they’ll do. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a show that I enjoyed—despite some flaws—and I’m hungry for more.