'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' Review: Why It's the Best New Show of 2018
Forgive the Pride and Prejudice-inspired hyperbole, but I cannot understate how much I’ve enjoyed watching Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. It’s possibly the single best new show of 2018.
The series follows a young half-witch, half-mortal on the cusp of her 16th birthday. But rather than sign the Devil’s Book of the Beast in exchange for more power and a nearly immortal life, Sabrina Spellman instead opts to reject his dominion (and the patriarchy in general) to maintain her mortal relationships and help the people around her.
The entire cast is sublime, and their dynamics are totally electric. For fans of school-based magical fiction, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has more than enough to go around. It’s also far more mature than Harry Potter and more macabre and satanic than the The Magicians.
Witch stories have always been a metaphor for the persecution of progressive ideals, and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina leans heavily into that theme while also questioning the status quo of witches in the wokest way possible. Yes, witches are sort of Satan’s handmaidens or whatever, dabbling in voodoo and blood magic, but shouldn’t the witches of the 21st century be allowed power and freedom? In Kiernan Shipka’s (Mad Men) capable hands, Sabrina Spellman explores the nature of power and freedom in this fantastical world while also building out a compelling and mature magical universe.
But Chilling Adventures also isn’t afraid to examine the nature of love for immortals. Witches and warlocks get extended lifespans as part of their magical powers, so romance becomes all about lustful polyamory. Sabrina’s devotion to mortal boyfriend Harvey Kinkle, however, is as charming as it is refreshing. Whereas teenage romance and friendship is a total mess in shows like Riverdale, Chilling Adventures does something different. Characters don’t waver in the face of temptation, nor do they abandon their companions when the bonds of friendship are tested.
In this way, the series feels like something special, especially when it also manages to be wickedly funny on top of all that. Much like Sabrina herself, the show deftly explores the mortal and magical realms of existence with delicate — and delicious — precision.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is streaming now on Netflix.