There's a TV show based on The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and I want to talk about it!

#1

I read my fair share of Archie comics as a child, and while I haven’t started watching Riverdale, as I heard a lot of mixed things about it, when I saw The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina come on to Netflix I was intrigued. Turns out, I really like it!

Figured I would make a general thread for the show as the second season came out on Netflix just last week and we don’t have a thread for the show.

One of my favorite aspects of the show is how carefully balanced the show is between being serious and silly/campy. For the most part, the show is incredibly self-serious, but I think that is what allows me to be so invested in many scenes that are actually quite silly taken at face value. First ones that come to mind are the scenes in the witches court. So many elements of those scenes are downright absurd (like the demons saying “DISORDER IN THE COURT”, or like a trap door to Satan’s lair opening in the middle of the court room) but I still find myself enthralled in these scenes, worried and scared of what might happen. I understand this balance of camp and tension is common in many horror films/shows, but I think Sabrina swings for the fences in this regard and absolutely nails it!

Alongside that, I’ve been really impressed with the web of character dynamics the show has developed. Like, the dynamics of Sabrina vs. Zelda vs. The High Priest for example, they each have different desires for what they want out of each other, and the show does such a good job of pitting those desires against each other in interesting ways.

But anyways I thought I’d just throw a few starter questions out there if there’s anyone else out here watching the show:

  • Um, do you like it?
  • Zelda: cool or nah?
  • Best witch/warlock phrase? (For example “Thank Satan” or “let’s get the heaven out of here”)
  • What would your familiar be? What would you want to learn in witch school?

Try to blur spoilers where you deem fit

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#2

I think one of the things that makes it stand out in my mind is the cinematography. It’s filmed in ultra wide screen and a lot of the settings are very spacious. Lots of scenes are in the woods, the Academy of Unseen Arts, Baxter High and the unusually spacious Spellman manor. So there are lots of shots that are closeups but have lots of space on the margins that balance it out in a way that you don’t see often.

The use of colour also contributes to this. Sabrina almost always has a bright red aspect to her outfit. The rest of the world seems to be comprised of more muted colours like browns, greys, dark greens and brownish or greenish yellows. There is a sharp contrast between the two and also with Sabrina’s hair when it changes from blonde to white.

Another thing that I noticed today is the fluid dynamics for blood (and gas in the episode I watched today) is more viscous, almost gelatinous. It doesn’t flow, drip or splash in a natural way. It’s weird and creepy in a way that is harmounious with the shows themes.

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#3

my big take away is that nick is horny and the show really wants us to know it

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#4

I thought about making a thread when I was watching Season 1, but decided not to, so happy to see one pop up!

Uhhh, I’m not sure I like this show at all. In season 1 I thought the premise was solid, if a bit cheesy, and it had some promise. Now that I’m 3 episodes into S2, it’s just going further and further downhill.

Sabrina herself feels entitled. She jumps into any situation, even those that she doesn’t understand, expects to be catered to and celebrated, and then gets angry when she can’t have everything just so. She has done very little to earn her status as anyone special.

The way the show frames parallels between Baxter High and the academy for things like bullying, gender issues, holidays etc is pretty on the nose imo. In S2E3, it’s valentine’s day, and it’s also conveniently a similar holiday for witches. Theo is being bullied? So is Sabrina. Hegemonic masculinity? Yep, we’ve got it over here in magic town too.
I know part of the point is to show that the same societal problems exist everywhere, but after the first few times I got pretty tired of the two worlds being mirrored so perfectly.

The show also feels like it thinks it’s way more woke than it actually is. Sure, it’s tackling issues like gender and race, but it does very little to do more than use them as plot points. This show is set in the present day, and yet when Theo comes out as transgender, no one seems to be aware of the concept and the word is never used.

Another thing that really jumps out is the cinematography. So many shots are framed weirdly, or have a super soft focus, or are at a canted angle, seemingly just because they can be. A specific scene that stuck out was in S2E3, where Hilda is talking to Sabrina in bed. Instead of a standard shot-reverese-shot, we get Hilda from a high angle, to the right of frame with an out-of-focus, mostly black background. The scene has Hilda offering comfort and support, so why is she framed as if she’s in trouble or lonely? If they’re going for something specific with their symbolism, I’m not seeing it. It seems to defy cinematic convention, which is fine if that’s what they’re doing, but they’ve never shown that it is.

I will finish up this season at least, but I’ve already read ahead a little and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to recover for me. The best thing about it is the set and costume design. It’s got a really cool vibe. Music doesn’t make sense tho

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#5

I watched seasons one for a very simple reason: I wanted to see the Riverdale crossover thing. I watched the entire first season not realising that the Riverdale crossover thing happened at some point in there. I did not like it.
They never manage to build an interesting world. It’s funny in the first episode when the dude from Coupling is at their house and that is a huge honour, but then he is at their house in every damn episode.

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#6

I’m all about this show. It ain’t perfect by a long stretch (when it touches on gender issues it’s super high level), but I’m all in on the satanist/witch society. I think it only got better in s2, heaven yes anti-pope!

#7

Sorry to be so delayed in response, but you do touch on a lot of the nagging issues I’ve had with the show!

One thing I will say is I do agree the show seems to think it’s a bastion of progressive values, but we don’t actually know what year the show takes place in, that being said, some half-assed research on my part seems to indicate transgender started being used in the middle 1900’s, so it is still mighty weird they never use the word. But on the other hand, I like that Theo is played by a non-binary actor, and that the story arc three episodes into season 2 isn’t the general tragic story that many faux-progressive shows would turn to. At the very least Theo seems to have support from his father and other students.

But since I read your post, I’ve been watching the first season again to and God do I notice just how unnecessarily Extra the camera shots are at times. Like, sometimes they are really fun, but often it is distracting!

#8

The Fake Geek Girls podcast had a good episode about it.

#9

I always find the cinematography to be good in this show. Especially all the little visual references to other witch fiction (even small stuff like Zelda/Hilda’s kitchen having the window from the ceiling window from the opening to Suspiria in it) that are never especially called attention to but there. But I think it’s also pretty successful with how its characters are shot too. Like, Hilda is an extremely lonely and dependent person, of course she’s shot like that when she’s got to comfort and take care of this kid where her sister failed to AGAIN. :smiley:

I think it’s also a good nod to the comic it’s based on, with Chilling Adventures being heavily influenced by the look and framing of the old EC horror comics from the 70s. The show takes place today but feels a bit out of time as others have commented because of that. Most of it is shot like a 70s New England horror movie. I think that helps contribute some awkwardness to the character interactions as needed but also lets it straddle the line between how alternately absurd and heavy it can get in the first season at least because the look is always consistent.

To look at other Netflix comics stuff, I don’t think it has a particularly higher or lower budget than any of the Marvel Netflix shows but in comparison, it looks waaaaaaay better on basically every level.

Anyway not saying all of that means you have to like it but personally I got a lot out of the show’s look myself compared to how on the nose cheap a lot of Netflix shows can look at times.

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#10

That all sounds like a valid interpretation!
I don’t really have the context for the comic or other media it’s referencing, so I’m sure I’ve missed something. A lot of the cinematography just feels very ‘symbolism for the sake of symbolism’ to me.

I also don’t watch a lot of other Netflix shows (just stranger things and hill house really) so I also don’t have that frame of reference. Sabrina definitely has enough allure for me to want to watch it at all, so it must be doing something. Still, yeah, not for me

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#11

IIRC the first season establishes that the show takes place in the present day. There are computers and a couple of phones here and there, but everyone listens to 80’s music I guess? It feels very indecisive about its setting.

I agree that Theo being played by an NB actor is cool. His story in general is one of the better ones in the show. I was pleased that it wasn’t dragged out over the whole second season, as it was telegraphed pretty early on.
Certainly, the inclusion of diversity is welcome, but the way they’ve written it feels like they’re drawing extra attention to it, kind of like how an older person will specifically call out their progressiveness. My mum will say things like “he’s gay, which is fine” or whatever. It’s like, good on you for making an effort to be inclusive, and I understand that this is big and new for you, but the best thing to do would be to normalize it and not call it out, you know?

Sorry I’m not very articulate about this kind of thing but I think this gets my point across well enough lol

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