Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a creepy and charming ode to teenage rebellion

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By Leah Roberts, Third Year, German

YouTube / Netflix

Netflix’s new series, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, is another take on the classic Archie Comics character, and takes place in the same universe as Riverdale (2017-). Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who developed Riverdale for television, directs here again, giving CAOS the same beautiful yet creepy camerawork as Riverdale but, surprisingly, less irritating characters.

Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) lives with her two aunts Hilda and Zelda (Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto) and cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo), who are all part of the dark world of witches. She goes to a mortal school with her boyfriend Harvey (Ross Lynch) and best friends Roz (Jaz Sinclair) and Susie (Lachlan Watson). As she approaches her 16th birthday, half-human and half-witch Sabrina must choose between her mortal friends and witch family.

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Netflix / Diyah Pera

This series is anything but light-hearted and tackles many pressing themes in its ten episode run. Sabrina is undoubtedly a feminist and is constantly questions archaic values and inequality, be it in her school or in her coven. Sabrina is the leader of her group and right from the beginning of the series she's shown to be protecting her friends from bullies, hostile teachers and otherwise more malevolent forces. This series acts as a reminder for teens and adults alike that it's okay to stand up for yourself if you find that you're coasting through something you don't really believe in or support.

As a character, Sabrina is simultaneously relatable and a role model; she constantly questions what is presented as fact and stands up for what she believes in. Right from the get-go, Sabrina expresses her doubts about going through with her dark baptism, whilst her aunts essentially tell her she has no choice but to go through with it. This undoubtedly echoes the struggle of many young people who go through their 'initiations’ into their respective religions at a young age, and simply have to accept what their guardians tell them - even if they have justifiable doubts.

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Netflix / Diyah Pera

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina sends a powerful message to any parents watching that they should take the opinions of their children more seriously, whilst simultaneously giving children and teens a reminder that they are their own person. In a few episodes, Sabrina does things wrong - sometimes seriously wrong - but we are again gently reminded that Sabrina is still a child and that mistakes are a part of growing up. CAOS also brings to light the idea that problems teenagers face today are anything but trivial, and older generations often play down the struggles faced as teens.

In the days leading up to and following her dark baptism, Sabrina's relationship with her long-term boyfriend is rocky, as most are at the age of 16. Harvey has problems of his own, which Sabrina tries to fix. It inevitably always go wrong. Annoyingly, Sabrina is always trying to do what's right for him and Harvey never seems to take her completely seriously. The overwhelming consensus in the coven is that she should just cut ties with not just Harvey, but all of her mortal friends, to make it easier for her to transition into her life as a which.

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Netflix / Diyah Pera

The light-hearted way it is addressed makes it eerily easy to forget how this happens much too often in cults all over the world today. Sabrina's cousin is under house arrest and cannot leave the coven, her aunt is disgraced from the community and Sabrina almost makes an enemy of the High Priest just for questioning his teachings and the sexism that comes along with them. The High Priest and the older of Sabrina’s aunts are constantly undermining her and breaking her trust, and yet they can't seem to understand why Sabrina doesn't want to become a witch.

However, the show reinforces the idea that guidance figures are usually doing what they think is best for you, and so sometimes do not see what they, or their religion, are doing wrong. Sabrina's family have seemingly been in the coven for centuries and their dark baptisms and strange traditions are just accepted, even when one involves killing and eating a female of their own community.

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Netflix / Diyah Pera

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is another polished entry in Netflix’s line-up. Since this is a Bildungsroman - a work dealing with the main character’s formative years - the supporting characters can be predictably shallow and cardboard, but decidedly less so than previous seasons of Riverdale. Aguirre-Sacasa tackles topics relevant to today’s youth whilst making sure the characters are relatable, creating yet another binge-worthy Netflix series.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is streaming now on Netflix. A Christmas special has been confirmed for 2018.

Featured Image Credit: Netflix / Diyah Pera


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