Kids of the 90s rejoice. Our favorite TV witch is coming back. On the first of December last year, Netflix announced an ‘untitled Sabrina Series’. The original ABC sitcom Sabrina, the Teenage Witch told the story of ‘perfectly normal’ sixteen-year-old Sabrina Spellman who lived with her aunts Zelda and Hilda Spellman. Fans of the original might be understandably alarmed, but creators have done their best to quell any lingering fears.
‘The Netflix Media Centre describes the upcoming release as ‘a dark coming-of-age story that traffics in horror, the occult and, of course, witchcraft.”
The update will be based on the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic books. The comics are published by Archie Horror, an imprint of Archie Comics who are responsible for the original Riverdale, Betty and Veronica and Sabrina the Teenage Witch graphic novels. But this latest comic series is nothing like its predecessors. It features cannibalism, goat slaughtering and everything witchy in the traditional sense of the word. The Netflix Media Centre describes the upcoming release as ‘a dark coming-of-age story that traffics in horror, the occult and, of course, witchcraft.’ It pegs the show in a similar ‘vein’ to horror flicks Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.
Twenty and thirty-somethings look back with nostalgia on the innocent adventures of a young Melissa Hart and her sassy black cat Salem. Part of Sabrina’s appeal was her inherent niceness. She cared about school and making good choices. Fans are worried that a dark remake will tarnish the show’s memory and take it in a direction that potentially fails the teenage girls the show was originally made for.
Writing in The Guardian, author and journalist Jean Hannah Edelstein admits the original wasn’t exactly art with a capital ‘A’, but she emphasises that it was about ‘a powerful young woman who lived with two powerful women mentors’. This was something 90s television was lacking, and definitely one of the reasons it was so successful. Of course, it was also funny. Edelstein remembers the show as ‘very silly and quite bonkers’ and remarks that ‘those are two things that teenage girls aren’t often permitted to be, not without critique.’
If there was ever a creative team able to quell the fears of worried retro-fans it would be Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Lee Toland Krieger. The pair worked together on the recent Riverdale reboot and are teaming up again to add a little darkness to another classic American teen story. As well as being the creator of Netflix’s Riverdale, Aguirre-Sacasa is Chief Creative Officer at Archie Comics and actually wrote the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina graphic novels.
‘In this new, darker, archie-verse, who knows what could happen?’
On the 23rd of January Aguirre-Sacasa tweeted ‘the PATH OF NIGHT begins here’ along with an image of a script title-page for ‘Chapter One: October Country’, the rumoured opening episode. So far, we only know two of the cast members. Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka will be playing the new Sabrina with Jaz Sinclair of Netflix’s Easy, at her side as best friend Rosalind Walker.
Riverdale fans may have heard mention in the show of neighbouring Greendale. It’s the town where Ms. Grundy fatally re-located and where ‘Snake Charmer’ Penny Peabody traffics her ‘pancake-mix’. One thing we know for certain is that you don’t want to be caught there after midnight. Could there possibly be a more fitting home town for the new black-magic Sabrina? Fans have taken those ominous prior mentions as proof of a future series-crossover, and in this new, darker, archie-verse, who knows what could happen?
Whether it’s 90’s fandom or morbid curiosity that makes you press play later this year, from the looks of the people involved, it certainly won’t be long before the new Sabrina has you firmly under her spell.