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Reinventing 'Sabrina': How Netflix Is Turning Your Favorite Teen Witch Into A Dark Sorceress
Netflix has reinvented America's favorite witch in its latest series, "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," starring Kiernan Shipka.
Dark and gritty reboots of light-hearted source material have become somewhat of a cliché in pop culture lately. From Super Mario to Batman, plenty of video game and comic book characters have been reworked as grisly anti-heroes.
Now, "Sabrina The Teenage Witch," the plucky conjurer the world befriended in the '60s and again in the mid-90s, is getting resurrected for Netflix's latest series, "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" — but will audiences fall in love with this darker heroine?
The world was first introduced to the character of Sabrina in "Archie's Madhouse" #22 in October 1962. Created by writer George Gladir and artist Dan DeCarlo, Sabrina was a side character regularly appearing in Archie's world from 1969 to 1985. She eventually received her own spin-off comic book series in 1996, the same time a sitcom with Melissa Joan Hart playing the eponymous enchantress debuted on television. The show was a major hit and ran for seven seasons, featuring a goofier take on the character.
When "Riverdale" rebooted the Archie universe for the CW network in 2017, it reinvented Archie's world, with the action happening in a David Lynch-inflected setting with overtly campy elements. The character of Sabrina was slated for a surprise appearance during the first season's finale, but the idea was scratched as showrunners cooked up bigger plans for the sorceress, according to ComicBook.com.
"The Chilling Adventures" was originally envisioned as a companion piece to "Riverdale" for the CW, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The project eventually moved to Netflix, with Riverdale's showrunner, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, remaining at the helm. Kiernan Shipka (best known for her role as Sally Draper on "Mad Men") was chosen to portray this moodier reincarnation of the character, inspired by Satanic horror classics like "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Exorcist." In this latest iteration, Sabrina will battle her inner demons as she comes to grips with her identity as a half-witch, half-mortal. Like "Riverdale," this new "Sabrina" is expected to carefully balance the comedic and the morbid.
In an interview with Rue Morgue, Shipka emphasized the feminist elements of the show.
"There’s a lot of different ways to look at what it means to be a witch and how Sabrina is sort of finding herself and identifying with her mortal self as well as her witch self," Shipka said. "It really becomes this journey about relationships, people, and growing up as yourself. It’s about owning your truth and realizing the powers that you have. At the end of the day, there’s some magic in the world, but it’s more about these people and this story."
Meanwhile, Aguirre-Sacasa emphasized the interesting blends of genres he's hoping to offer in the upcoming series.
"We spend a little more time in the mortal world than we do in the comic," Aguirre-Scasa told SyFy. "It's definitely a horror show. There's a little more romance, there's a little more warmth in the Spellman house. The comic book [is] pretty nihilistic, and the show has some optimism in it. It's a nice balance."
Check out the trailer for the new show, dropping on Netflix on October 26, below!