What Time Period Is 'Sabrina' Set In? Dating ‘Chilling Adventures'
Watching Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix can be as confusing as it is exciting — and not just because of all the satanic rituals, goblins disguised as animals, and ancient phrases. The costumes and set design in Netflix’s new show make it difficult to tell exactly where and when this story takes place, but we’re here to clear that up for you.
Anyone who’s even a bit of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina since it hit Netflix last Friday probably noticed pretty quickly that people are using smartphones, suggesting this story takes place within the past few years. However, the series seems to want to confuse us about the exact date when it comes to a timestamp in the first episode reading, “Tuesday, October 28th of This Year.”
So is that 2018, or what?
Rest assured, Sabrina takes place more or less in the present day, but there are legitimate reasons why the time period looks and feels a little confusing. The show’s aesthetic loosely emulates that of the comic it’s based on, which takes place mostly in 1964.
There’s also the added factor that since witches and warlocks live for centuries, many of the characters we meet are themselves relics of a bygone era. So it makes sense that they don’t exactly dress in a modern style, and their stylistic preferences pervade the whole town’s aesthetic.
In an interview with Elle magazine, Sabrina production designer Lisa Soper explained the show’s fusion of time periods.
“When you watch the show you’ll see cellphones, you’ll see laptops, you’ll see Victorian dresses,” Soper said. “Some of these witches and creatures are hundreds of years old, so we’re trying to show that layering of history, and also trying to give everybody in the audience a chance to grab onto something that they like and that they’re nostalgic for. We’re not locked into a time.”
Despite everyone living in a world with cell phones and the internet, Greendale residents — magical or otherwise — dress in faux ‘60s attire. Between that and the architectural design of the town’s buildings, Greendale feels like a place stuck in the past.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is adapted from the Archie Comics series of the same name. Many of the same characters and plot points are borrowed, but consider it a very loose adaptation — especially because the comic starts out in 1964.
That more or less accounts for the show’s unique style.
Much like how Sabrina herself straddles the line between light and darkness by maintaining her status as both witch and mortal, the show’s overall aesthetic aims loosely for the present day while remaining heavily inspired by the ‘60s styles from the comics.
It doesn’t help that the first season starts around Halloween when plenty of people wear costumes. Additionally, when the witches and warlocks are on their own they often wear magical robes like the ones you might see in Harry Potter.
And as Sabrina’s aunts explain to her early on in the series, signing one’s name in the Book of the Beast grants all witches and warlocks a greatly extended magical lifespan. Late in the series, we learn that Sabrina’s cousin Ambrose taught Houdini how to perform stage magic (presumably sometime in the late 1800s). Zelda and Hilda are much older than even that. They, like the other magical elders in their coven, bring a much more archaic style to the show.
Another point of confusion for some viewers might be the soundtrack. The first episode of Chilling Adventures includes “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival and “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes.
Much of the soundtrack focuses on these kinds of throwback songs straight out of the ‘60s, which feels like a nod to the original comics. So don’t expect to see anyone jamming out to more recent hits from Taylor Swift or Cardi B in Greendale.
But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t if they wanted to.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is now available to stream on Netflix.