Thursday, December 3, 2020

‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ takes dark turn in revamp

Spellbooks, gore, witchcraft, ritual sacrifices and satanism are known to be classic elements utilized to tell all coming of age stories.

Oh, they aren’t?

At least that’s the vision of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the creator of  “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” in the new modern revamp of the classic ‘90s show “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.”

The 2018 Netflix series centers around the protagonist, 16-year-old Sabrina Spellman, and her family who live in the town of Greendale: a town full of secrets, mines and magic. Although the two series differ in plot, tone, characterization and location, both tv series  are based on the 1962 STTW issue of Archie’s Madhouse.

Initially published to tell the story of the adventures of a fictional American teenager named Sabrina Spellman, the Archie comics were created by writer George Gladir and artist Dan DeCarlo. The comic book was a hit to a generation of teens, and Archie Comics issued Vol. 1 of “Sabrina The Teenage Witch” in April 197l. The company continued to make more volumes until 2009, of the bubbly, humorous and witchy version of Spellman.

The plot of the original tv series STTW, was based off of these Archie comics. STTW depicted the light, sweet and funny story of Sabrina turning 16, finding out she’s a witch, taking magic pop quizzes and earning her witch license at 18. She earned this alongside her aunts Hilda and Zelda, and talking cat Salem, a familiar she used for company and advice.

However, the plot recently took a sharp turn — a dark, disturbing one.

In the CAOS adaptation of the 2014 Archie Horror series, this tale is a dark coming-of-age story that the new generation can relate to. Not everything in our teenage years goes the way we want it to. Although, Spellman’s teenage life is occult and quite frankly, unbelievably horrifying.

In this television series, Spellman is born half mortal, and is told she’s a witch from birth, rather than finding out on her 16th birthday. Her cat is real this time, yet barely talks. Her two aunts, Zelda played by Beth Broderick and Hilda played by Lucy Davis, raise Spellman and force her to make a decision between giving her soul to the Dark Lord and abandoning her mortal life completely, or—

Well she doesn’t really have a choice at all.

After some trickery from Academy High Priest Faustus Blackwood and Lilith, Sabrina starts taking classes at the School of Unseen Arts, a vast difference from the original series. Unlike the STTW original, her group of friends Susie, Roz and Harvey in this series not only know of her dark side; they begin to embark on adventures with Sabrina, in stopping the Dark Lord from taking over the world.

Spellman must come to terms that it is impossible to be a normal girl as a witch. In the new January-released season, she must use dark magic, feminism and strong ambition throughout the three seasons to establish her strength in the dark realm, against her father Satan and all of Hell.

But, is it a little too much, between the dialogue and some of the sub-plots?

“They need to take the time on their writing a little bit more,” junior Meagan Powers said. “Stop focusing on so many subplots.”

These subplots include multiple character connections through different shows. The show has made multiple references that Riverdale and Greendale live in the same universe. However, they never cross paths.

“I think they decided not to, because they’re waiting to see how the audience feels,” Powers said. “They won’t do anything yet, unless there’s a high demand for it. If that’s the case, I know they most certainly will at some point.”

And when the creators drop Easter eggs, they don’t exactly make sense.

One of the biggest plot holes in both tv series is the appearance of Ben Button in Season 1, Episode 7. It is almost impossible with the timeline of the series releases for him to appear, considering the week before, he committed suicide in tribute to the Gargoyle King in season three of Riverdale. How could he be alive in CAOS, but killed off completely in another?

It is questionable whether the creator will have trouble combining the shows in a special episode, and if that episode is even planned.

“I think it’s possible that they will, especially if Riverdale starts to tank and they need to save it,” Powers said. “Which is kind of happening.”

Riverdale has lost its nostalgic, comprehensible, interesting plotline. This had made the only mini crossover, a horrible one. It’s virtually translating its plot holes into a new show, making a major misstep in CAOS.

The creator, Roberto Aguierre-Sacasa, told Entertainment Tonight, “It suggests a very deep, deep mythology where time and space bends… the dead don’t stay dead long in Greendale.”

Seems like an excuse to cover the tracks,  Aguirre-Sacasa.

Along with missteps, however, there are some interesting ‘eggs’ the creators place within CAOS. Within the show, Ms. Wardwell constantly discusses how there is magical energy in the forest near Sweetwater River, which sits between the two towns. The most major event in that river was the death of Jason Blossom, one of the baseline plots of Riverdale.

The two shows share restaurants and landmarks like “Pops,” the same place Hilda gets a milkshake from and the same business Veronica owns in Riverdale. Aspects like this are interesting, but with many twists and turns the plot line begins to blur and the line between paranormal crime and witchcraft becomes fuzzy.

This may be why Sabrina never officially made a debut in Riverdale.

The creator actually touched on previous ideas for the two shows, talking with Entertainment Weekly:

“During Season 1 of Riverdale — before Riverdale exploded and found its footing as sort of a noir, crime, pulp show — we had said, ‘Maybe Season 2 will be like [the comic] Afterlife With Archie,” said Aguirre-Sacasa. “We’ll do a big genre switch and it will be horror, and it will be Afterlife and Sabrina could come and be the antagonist. There was even a time when we talked about the Season 1 cliffhanger being the arrival of Sabrina.”

But considering the amount of care, time and effort the creators put into the dialogue and characterization of the shows, a cross-over seems like it won’t happen in the near future.

“It could work, but it has to be done right.” Powers said. “I would rather something casual happen actually. Something like where Sabrina and her friends go to Pop’s to have dinner and Veronica serves them. And Sabrina’s like, ‘Oh, I love your dress!’, because [Veronica] wears the collared dress like the Weird Sisters have [in CAOS].”

As for now, Season 3 of  CAOS serves as an outlet for those who are looked at as different in a new generation of teens. Powers discusses how she met a lot of satanists, witches, pageants and has never had a bad experience.

A show that normalizes these religious aspects and practices, may help those opposite of the societal norm to feel more inclusive. And the dark, new edge of Sabrina does just that.

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