"Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" has returned to the small screen again; this time in a reboot on Netflix – "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina." As evidenced by the trailer and the prominently featured pentagram in the logo, the light-hearted innocence of the original Melissa Joan Hart sitcom has been jettisoned in favor of an unapologetically dark, Satanic, tone.
In the 2018 version, gone are the laugh tracks and cheerful one-liners of the original, where witchcraft and magic were more of a punchline to a joke rather than an actual force for Sabrina to reckon with. Here, the "teenage witch" is a newly-minted 16-year-old on the cusp of signing her soul over to a coven of Satan-worshippers, which her two aunts – Zelda and Hilda – are all too eager to facilitate.
So how far does Netflix let the satanism inherent to the practice of witchcraft perpetuate the show? Is it just an excuse for a teenager to wave a magic wand and lament the trappings of high school to her wise-cracking black cat or is it a force of darkness? This email from the streaming service to its subscribers about Sabrina's "Dark Baptism" to the "Dark Lord" provides a hint:
Your presence is requested at the Dark Baptism of the teenage witch Sabrina Spellman.
Join us as we gather under the eclipsing blood moon, at the stroke of midnight on her sixteenth birthday.
Bear witness as Sabrina signs her name to the Book of the Beast and begins her journey on the path of night, just as the Dark Lord intended.
The letter is signed by Sabrina's two famous aunts, Hilda Spellman and Zelda Spellman, who are played in the show by Lucy Davis and Mirando Otto, respectively. Kiernan Shipka plays the title character.
According to the critics at Rotten Tomatoes, this new twisted Sabrina is somewhat saved by its self-referential humor and does not take itself nearly as seriously as the satanic subject matter warrants.
"Chilling Adventures of Sabrina may traffic in ghouls and devil-worshippers but it doesn't take itself too seriously with a campy, morbid sense of humour. It's what keeps it light enough to have fun with," says Wenlei Ma at News.com
"The show's strength is its self-awareness. It knows how silly it is, and does everything with a big wink that makes it more enjoyable than if it took itself too seriously," writes Carrie Witmer at Business Insider.
The show currently enjoys an 89% fresh rating and comes at a time when witchcraft is gaining popularity among millennials.
According to Market Watch, "interest in spirituality has been booming in recent years while interest in religion plummets, especially among millennials." Worse still, a majority of Americans now believe it is "not necessary to believe in God to have good morals"
The replacement for many of these young adults has been astrology, which involves aura reading, mediumship, tarot-card reading and palmistry. Adherents to these practices grew 2% between 2011 and 2016, creating an industry that is now worth $2 billion annually.
Recently, witchcraft has even entered the political realm, with covens across the country openly inviting occult practitioners to partake in hexing spells against President Trump and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
At least "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" has enough sense to admit witchcraft is Satanism, which both Judaism and Christianity have condemned as an evil practice for centuries.