The gothic and campy teen show seems like an unlikely candidate to be the one making bold proclamations, but coursing through its witchy veins is the blood of change.
Maybe it’s because Sabrina’s core audience is younger than your average voter, online troll or print op-ed writer, but there’s something so refreshing about its progressive spirit. It makes you all warm and fuzzy about future generations coming to power.
For them, there’s nothing controversial about transgender teens or women breaking down the patriarchy. It just is.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, an adaptation of a darker reboot of the Sabrina comics from the Archie universe, returns tonight with nine episodes in part two. And it’s a joy to dip back into the macabre world of Greendale.
For the uninitiated, Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) is a 16-year-old half-witch, half-mortal. Her parents died in a plane crash when she was a baby and she’s been brought up by her aunts Hilda (Lucy Davis) and Zelda (Miranda Otto).
She’s spent the first years of her life balancing the demands of her mortal life and her witch life, going to a normal high school, snuggling with a sweet mortal boyfriend (Ross Lynch) and hanging out with her mortal friends (Jaz Sinclair, Lachlan Watson).
But once she turned 16, she had to choose. Stay loyal to the mortal side or give in to the power and privilege of her birthright — the magical side.
The first half released last year depicted that tussle between light and dark, with Sabrina reluctantly signing her name in “The Book of the Beast” when put in an impossible situation.
The story that season two carries on with is what happens now that Sabrina has leaned more into The Church of Night, even cosying up with warlock Nick Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood), as it’s hinted that Sabrina will have a significant role to play in the coming apocalypse.
The fight for her soul and for her future is the wider arc.
But Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is mostly an episodic series and it takes delight in its individual stories too. Of the five episodes made available for review, that’s included a Valentine’s Day-themed storyline about the witchier, bacchanalia version of the lovers’ holiday, and another where a tarot card reader delves into our main characters’ deepest fears.
One of the key storylines this season is Suzie transitioning to Theo, and it’s done with such care, sensitivity and an inevitability that says that acceptance of people and their identities are a no-brainer.
The show also depicts different sexualities without comment, normalising it in a way that would’ve been shocking on TV 20 years ago.
And then there’s Sabrina and the show’s mission to explore gender norms, especially in the patriarchal Church of Night and their coven’s leader, the antiquated High Priest Faustus Blackwood, who’s dialled up the sexism in this batch of episodes.
Starting with Sabrina challenging the election of the Academy’s “Top Boy” (and yes, it is always a boy) to trying to usurp Blackwood’s archaic manifesto with her dead father’s reformist one, Sabrina is blasting through the glass ceiling. Or at least she’s trying to.
Not every episode works as well as the stronger ones, but the show has created a distinct and imaginative world that you’ll happily spend some time in.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina part two is available to stream on Netflix now
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