Demonic figures, shadowy hallways, and of course, Salem Saberhagen. Welcome to Greendale, home of Spellman Mortuary and, of course, our favorite teen witch, Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka). This Halloween, Netflix will take us to the dark side of growing up with the first season of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which premieres October 26, and you better believe that we’re excited as all hell for it.
The new trailer opens with two teen lovebirds, Sabrina and her boyfriend, Harvey (Ross Lynch), being absolutely adorable, though I would say that making a Night Of The Living Dead reference while walking towards a mortuary is never a good move.
As we get a look at the retro-cute town of Greendale, Sabrina fills us in on the central conflict of the show: she’s half-witch, half-mortal, and on her sixteenth birthday (Halloween itself), she’ll be forced to make a choice between following either a human path or a decidedly more witchy destiny. Along the way, she encounters the Weird Sisters (Tati Gabrielle, Adeline Rudolph, and Abigail Cowen), a mentor with a dark side (Michelle Gomez), and some seriously creepy monsters.
The show, which was promised to be “a dark horror version of Sabrina, something that was more of a slow-burn horror, like The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby and all those great satanic horror movies from the 1960s and 1970s” by showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, looks to be the perfect teenage Halloween treat. It also looks like it won’t pull many punches for a TV series that is no doubt aimed at the teens and twenty-somethings crowd. We get a brief blood spatter towards the end, when Aunt Zelda (Mirando Otto) takes a swing at Aunt Hilda (Lucy Davis, always my favorite), but the rest of the trailer is fairly bloodless … for now, at least.
Of course, as it’s Halloween, and we do love our feminist horror, we can’t not talk about the themes of coming of age and empowerment present in the trailer. Pop culture has been reclaiming the idea of witchcraft for years now, presenting it as a tool of feminism rather than a way to signal a wicked woman. There have been plenty of stumbles along the way (for more in-depth reading, check out this fantastic Teen Vogue piece from Sarah Lyons on) but hopefully Chilling Adventures opens up a new era of witchy storytelling that doesn’t fall prey to patriarchal tropes.
Shipka spoke about the female empowerment in the show in an interview with SyFyWire, saying:
“I think that one of my favorite things is that the show is just jam-packed with powerful badass women who are exercising their power and just being awesome and cool and have depth and flaws, and that’s what I’m obsessed with and always have been. To play a character like Sabrina who is making mistakes and making good choices and just figuring herself out is something that I think is really exciting. And I really kind of like, hesitate to ever call Sabrina a role model because she’s 16 years old, but needless to say I’m very excited that some 13-year-old girls are going to be watching this show and have her as a character to think about or be for Halloween. She’s a really strong, smart, educated girl, and I couldn’t be prouder to be part of a show that has clear intentions about that in front.”
We all love a good flawed heroine, and Shipka hits the nail on the head: Sabrina doesn’t have to be a role model to be important. She can stand on her own as a person who’s making choices about her agency and her life, which will be inspiring for girls. She isn’t letting a man tell her what to do with her life, and she doesn’t look to make decisions solely based around her boyfriend, either. Instead, it’s the magical women in her life who are shaping her and guiding her. In terms of a coven, this one seems pretty powerful.
Of course, the big question is “Will Sabrina sign it all away and risk her humanity, or will she choose to forsake her powers for love and friendship?” Can we hope that will be answered in one season? Don’t worry, Netflix has already promised us two seasons of the show (which is still shooting that second season currently), so don’t worry that we’ll be left on an unresolved cliffhanger.
(via Twitter, image: Netflix)
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