For those of us who grew up on the 90s bubblegum sitcom take on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the idea of a darker, horror-esque reboot can feel intimidating, and perhaps even a bit blasphemous. But after the success of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s Riverdale, the tv landscape was primed for a Sabrina spinoff—especially as most of the witchy, magical shows out there have either just ended or are ending this season.
Kiernan Shipka of Mad Men fame takes on the role of Sabrina Spellman, and she headlines an impressive (and thankfully not entirely blindingly white) cast. With Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist cited as tonal inspirations, the show promises to be not only darker than the original television take, but also darker than its sister show.
In this adaptation, based on the comic series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (also penned by Aguirre-Sacasa), Sabrina will be forced to reconcile her witch side with her mortal one, all while battling the forces of evil that threaten not only her family, but the human world. And go to high school. No sweat, right?
After you brush up on the cast (as it currently stands, since it grows by the day), drag up a chair and let’s discuss what we want from Netflix’s currently untitled Sabrina series—and what we don’t.
The Witchy Wish List
One of my biggest wishes for this show, when it was initially announced, was that it be far less white bread than the 90s series. While that show was formative for me, and I’m sure for many others, it’s 2018. Television needs to reflect the world in which we live. Four of the 12 cast members announced thus far aren’t white, and two of them are series regulars. While it’s a start, ideally this number will go up as casting continues.
One of those cast members is Jaz Sinclair. Sinclair, who played one of Bonnie Bennett’s ancestors on the 8th and final season of The Vampire Diaries, is playing Sabrina’s best friend Rosalind Walker and is currently credited for all 20 episodes. Her character is already intriguing. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rosalind is “the brash, empowered and outspoken daughter of Greendale’s minister”.
While the clash between magic and the church was obviously never seriously addressed in the sitcom take on Sabrina, the practical issues that come with religion and magic living side by side did get some play in The Originals. This is an angle I always want to see explored in witchy television, and given Rosalind’s character description, it seems like a safe bet we’ll see it tackled at least once.
I also want to hear an incredibly moody, evocative soundtrack. Ideally, it would be something like what we heard on The Originals, with its Southern Gothic inspiration, combined with darker-feeling indie tracks, R&B, and maybe even some hip-hop. Think Delta Rae, combined with Hozier, with a dash of Kendrick Lamar for good measure. Music is so critical to creating the atmosphere of a show, and the right track can make or break an important scene. I still remember every song that was playing during every pivotal moment in One Tree Hill and Dawson’s Creek. I want that for Sabrina too.
That’s a No From Me
Crossovers. Riverdale fandom is likely going to be clamoring for them, and I am here to tell you that is a Bad Idea.
It’s a safe bet that Baxter High plays Riverdale in their various athletic pursuits. Given the established world of Riverdale, that’s pretty much the only natural opportunity for a crossover between the shows. If it happens—which it shouldn’t—that’s the only place we should see it. Creating plots on either show that simply serve to facilitate a crossover would do both shows a disservice.
Think of Sweetwater River as not only a river that runs between the cities, but also a metaphorical boundary for the shows. Nothing magic should cross it. While these shows obviously exist in the same universe, as things currently stand magic isn’t a factor in the world of Riverdale. Leave those poor, terrorized-by-the-Black-Hood kids blissfully oblivious to the fact that magic exists until Sabrina is well-established as its own show. Otherwise, you risk jumping the shark on both sides.
What are you hoping for from Netflix’s presently untitled Sabrina project?