The ‘Riverdale’ spinoff will be Sabrina the Teenage Witch like we’ve never seen her before.
“Gritty” remains the word of the moment as it seems every single adaptation that ends up on screen tries to find a dark edge. A new show titled The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is primed to follow suit — it’s even in the name. Based on a reimagining of the much-loved Archie Comics character Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the new adaptation will be a “dark drama/horror project” under Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa‘s purview. And yes, it’ll be a direct spinoff to the grimdark adventures of Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead.
The original Sabrina comics follow the shenanigans of the eponymous character, Sabrina Spellman — a half-witch whose mother is magical and whose father is mortal. Sabrina lives with her two aunts, Hilda and Zelda and their cat Salem in Greendale (Riverdale’s neighbor). She spends most of her time trying to keep her witchy side a secret but uses her powers to help others. Although, as they say about witches and mortals, never the twain shall meet. Nevertheless, Sabrina navigates the trials of teenagehood alongside her witchy coming of age and basically has to learn about herself and her responsibilities in the process. This is the Sabrina we’re used to seeing on screen as well.
The main “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” comics have undergone adaptation since the 1970s, starting with a low-budget animated series of the same name. However, the iconic ABC adaptation starring Melissa Joan Hart as Sabrina really sealed the deal for many a ’90s kid. What started as a made-for-TV movie spawned a show with a fandom, and is even hugely meme-able. Multiple other animated properties have popped up over the years, as well, but they were more short-lived ventures: Sabrina: The Animated Series (1999-2000), Sabrina’s Secret Life (2003-2004), Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch (2013).
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will instead be based on comics of the same name that explore “the compelling and shocking re-imagining of Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s occult origins.” Released under the Archie Horror imprint, Sabrina still struggles with her dual life as both witch and mortal but has to battle the forces of evil in the process of finding self-actualization.
If Riverdale is anything to go by, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina looks to bring an entirely different vibe to the character’s televisual legacy. But if Riverdale is also anything to go by, fans should buckle up for some changes in storytelling that may not go down well. There is a sincere hope that there won’t be any gross statutory rape storylines, too, for obvious reasons. It’s one thing to explore the dark recesses of a teenager’s coming-of-age story, and another to indulge in it without any kind of moral stance.
However, one could speculate about this all day. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is still in its early stages, with casting coming in the next few months. So let’s call this tentative curiosity.