Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018– )
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To those that are reading reviews deciding whether to go ahead and watch this series. It should be noted that a large number of the negative views are based on the overly political nature of the first two episodes in the show. I won't deny the political side of the narrative is prevalent in both these episodes but beyond that it retains its head exactly where it should be - in the fantasy of this witching world. Those reviewers who have come to suggest this is a propaganda machine would care to watch the third episode and beyond before making their criticism.
If you enjoy the concept of witches, find it refreshing to see a satanic cult cast in a nonchalant non taboo light and would like to see a main character who is genuinely complex and not just a "good witch", then I recommend you would give at least the first 3 episodes ago.
This was so easy to watch and a perfect treat for Halloween. Excited to see what is in store for the series!
It wants to add a feminist spin to the idea of witches being given powers in exchange for loss of freedom, through their pact with the devil, with Sabrina standing up as a feminist and demanding both power and freedom - great idea! - but does it in such a badly thought through way, it just doesn't ever land. Worse, it comes across as obnoxious through her actions. Sabrina uses her witch powers to torment bullying 'jocks' (forcing them to sexually assault each other, yikes) and an uptight principal, but has no problem with her own family desecrating corpses, eating bits of them, or casually murdering each other for kicks.
The base problem with the show is that there is absolutely nothing new or fresh in it. All of the storylines are borrowed early Buffy the Vampire Slayer stuff (witches taking on a teacher's form, possessed principals, sleep demons) without any characters to root for to make it enjoyable.
But I will say that it's not a lost cause at least. If the show could just add some fun to Sabrina's life, some stakes in relation to her friends, get rid of that awful blurry filter that creeps in way too much, and stop recycling plotlines from far better shows, it has the potential to be a lot better. Unfortunately, I only made it to Episode 5 and just got so bored, I had to switch off.
The series that makes references to discrimination in society through the human and non-human equation, does not neglect to touch the discourse of racism in recent times. Why can't I be both a witch and a human being? In Sabrina's rebellious attitude is a good reference to the problem of not being a place where many immigrants live today. Sabrina's decision to decide which world to belong to is a good example. The fact that Sabrina is forced to choose a side brings a separate criticism to the multi-cultural understanding of society in which the extreme right-wing parties, which are at the center of today's socio-cultural debates, and which are rising thoroughly in the world. You can easily understand why Kiernan Shipka, who we know from Mad Men, is the first choice of the producers. A 16-year-old naive, excited, in love with a young girl as well as a well-grounded portrait of a courageous young girl who never dies from fighting for the things she believes in is drawing her very well. Shipka is best when Sabrina's mortal side is in play, when she's getting silly or excited with her friends, or bucking the satanic system. She never falls below the performances of Hilda (Lucy Davis) and Zelda (Miranda Otto) aunts.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is much more than the story of an adolescent witch with its horror and tension. This series offers its viewers a very different look with Sabrina with wit and ready-to-answer dialogues, fearless intrigues in her mystical and dark atmosphere, and feminist references. 7/10
PS: the oily blur camera effects are really annoying.
And this is what we see with this series. It opens up some really interesting questions but the antagonists are so unrealistic and one dimensional that it no longer becomes thought provoking. And I'm not talking about the witches here - the most unrealistic characters are the mortals. If you have not heard of intersectionalism then you should know that it is the idea that there is a power hierarchy of oppressor and victim, and the more minority boxes you can tick off then the more of a victim you are. This then combines with the idea that any form of hate / discrimination is only bad if you are doing it to someone more of a victim that you are. I present this as it seems like this is the main idea behind the writing of the show. And this becomes a problem because instead of presenting the ideas of "we are all equal, but look what this person has to go through compared to you", it presents the idea that anyone with more 'power' on the intersectionlist pyramid is a valid target of attack. This backfires because rather than trying to use empathy to bring people together, it uses hate to drive people apart.
And there is just no escaping it in this show. If it were a reference here and there then it would be absolutely fine - all shows have some political perspective (if you think it doesn't then that's probably because it has the same one you do). But the problem is that it becomes jarring because the writing is so bad it contradicts itself.
The most obvious example is when Susie is being bullied by some football jocks. Without any evidence Sabrina decides to take matter into her own hands and exact revenge on these boys. A witch hunt, although Sabrina says she does not care for the term, is exactly what she decides to go on. Guilty until proven innocent and it is all completely acceptable. A few episodes later Sabrina is accused of breaking a promise. Again no evidence is provided, but as Witch Law is guilty until proven innocent she could be in trouble. She protests at the unfairness of a situation which she herself was recently a perpetrator of. But no lesson is given as to her behaviour, it is simply presented as her being the victim.
And that's the main message of the show - all men are bad (but the black ones are not quite as bad as the others). Harvey's dad, for example, wants him to give up on any future he might have (at age 16) to start working down the mine with him, as if male parents never want to work hard to give their children a better future than they have had themselves. Indeed it is curious that all 4 friends are from dysfunctional families none of which have a mother. And when a stag is killed on a hunting trip and Sabrina asks "who would do such a thing?" the obvious reply is "men would".
And it makes you lose empathy not increase it. If the Headmaster is unwilling to allow books with tough controversial topics to be allowed in the school (as if he has total control over these things), then it is a perfectly reasonable thing to torture him so that he takes a day off of work so that a club can be formed that he may not approve of.
If the writing were better they could have presented these things in a much stronger light that would not have people turning away but actually thinking about the situation. See the great comedy show Nanette by Hannah Gadsby as a way to present a situation that evokes thought and empathy as an example of how these issues can be further brought to light.
Oh, and the schoolkids all look about 30. Otherwise the acting is good (especially the 5 main adults), and some of the plot points are interesting. I like how they took one episode off to present a perfectly in-keeping with the narrative one off thriller episode. And other than Sabrina all the characters are quite consistent (even if it makes them a bit bland).
Worth a try to see if the politics won't put you off. I've made it to the end despite it being jarring in places. It's entertaining enough to make it worth the effort, but you may get to the end and wonder if your time was better used to something else. Wasted potential that better writers would have fixed.
I also find the story all over the place. Sabrina's aunts are protagonists but they're cannibalistic satanist witches actively working for the forces of evil who celebrate when a child is brutally murdered. Sabrina is supposed to be this force for positive progress in the narrative but she uses her powers to steal the memory from her boyfriend in order to make sure he doesn't make his own decision to leave her when he's clearly not cool with her lifestyle. That's played off as an okay thing to do.
A lot of the stuff in the show only really seems to be there to be edgey and quirky. I watched this show because I liked Riverdale but at least Riverdale, as ridiculous as it is, has focus and character flaws are shown as just that... flaws.
The episodes themselves are a hot mess of themes that jump around with all the grace of a flapping Homer Simpson. From patriarchy to possession no small subject is too big and no big subject is too small.
Make no mistake as well this is aimed squarely at teens. Especially ones who spend all day tweeting about the latest social injustice and why James Bond isn't a woman, even though you don't really know who James Bond is.
Then onto the cast. I'll split this:
Sabrina - very Mary Sue. Solves a puzzle in five minutes that had been unsolved for decades, really? In general though she is ok, but there's nothing of the witch world about her, except her ability to do everything without trying.
She just seems like a high school kid, who doesn't really like Satan so will form a committee to tell him so.
You want to see a conflict not just in terms of choice but in terms of morality and personality. There's none. She'll gladly perform all sorts of spells on men, but feel guilt that her friends book has been banned.
High school - a tick all boxes group of bland characters, that make the occult seem appealing to even the most devout Christian.
Diversity in itself is fine, but if the most diverse thing about the character is their race or gender then there's a problem.
Witch world - love the aunts, they really contrast each other well and Michelle Gomez is amazing, but everyone else is pretty dull. The main villain is less scary than Oj Simpson. They're salty satanists, but never come across as the type of people who would sell their soul to the devil. You see truly evil bit characters sometimes, who's impact is dulled by the fluffy main characters. Hellwarts school for witches anyone.
Salem - he's just stuck on as a cheap attempt to get original viewers. CGI him if she's allergic. I mean an actual cat isn't going to talk is it?
Overall it's like a quilt that many people have made that has no correlation to each of the other parts.
Finally it's the best advertisement for Christianity ever. I mean who'd go to hell if it was this boring?
Not even 30 minutes in and there is already more talk about patriarchy, masculinity, white privilege and other far left buzzwords than about anything that the series is supposedly about. If that's your cup of tea, then I see no reason why you wouldn't like this show. But if you don't like far left ideology being pushed as some sort of irreproachable moral standard, then this show might not be for you.
I decided to stop watching after about 25 minutes. But by all means, watch the first episode and see for yourself.
Rediculous. The concept was great but it was just so political and biased I couldnt relate to any of the characters.
In the show's defense; however, I couldn't make it all the way through the first episode. Maybe it gets better. That's why I didn't give it a flat-out one star rating. If you like the concept of Sabrina mixed with the darkness of American Horror Story: Coven or AHS: Apocalypse then there's a chance you'll like this. In all honesty, this wasn't for me.
The supposed politics in this show are non-existent. There are a few mentions of the issues between a couple of female characters and the jerks in their lives, two of whom happen to be male.... these mentions are lightly used & sprinkled throughout about THREE of the first 10 episodes - plus they are used in a personal way, pertaining to the characters personal situations. This isn't a soapbox BASH you in the face political agenda, and the main focus of this show is the character and plot development. HAIL SATAN, witches. ;)
Other than those two things the show was pretty good. Another thing about the show is that, other than the names in the show, nothing was similar to the original. Not sure if this is what they wanted to accomplish since this is a "darker" version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
Overall though I'd recommend watching this. I'd give it a 10 if it weren't for those minor issues.
They took a great opportunity and soiled it with Hollywood propaganda. ATTN HOLLYWOOD: I do not appreciate far-left ideologies being throw down my throat at every turn. It's chaos and is not my idea of good cinema. Yack.