Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina TV Poster Image
Thrilling update of spooky comic ramps up teen empowerment.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 19 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Positive themes are woven strongly through the drama: female power and empowerment, obligations friends owe to each other, value of standing up for friends and ideals. Class issues play a role too: witch society is both patriarchal and hierarchical, something Sabrina, her adherents try to change. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Sabrina is a tough but kind teen. She stands up to adults who are corrupt, protects her friends, is courageous even when beset by enemies, like a trio of creepy fellow teen witches to whom she says "I'm not going to be baited or bullied by you." Sabrina's close friends are diverse, supportive; Susie in particular is nonbinary, bravely stands up to bullying school environment. 

Violence

Gothic trappings like foggy nights, lonesome cemeteries, spiders, bats add spook factor to on-screen deaths and dead bodies. Characters are killed suddenly, with pooling, spurting, dripping cinematic blood. Blood plays a part, too, in witchcraft; it's collected, used in ceremonies. Dead bodies of witches hang from trees in an unearthly red light; a scarecrow comes to life and attacks Sabrina; Zelda makes a joke about having "long pig" (human flesh) for dinner while standing over the body of a recently murdered teen. Cannibalism occurs as a ritual in a later episode. 

Sex

Sexual content starts out light (save for sweet kisses and declarations of love between Sabrina and Harvey) and gets heavier in later episodes. Some talk is mature: Witch initiation requires virginity, which Sabrina questions; a character is teased and physically assaulted for nontraditional gender presentation. A witch orgy happens at Sabrina's home; she's not involved. 

Language

Language includes "bastard," "freaking," "a--hole," "hell," "bulls--t," and made-up slang with a vulgar edge, like when Sabrina calls fellow witches "succubitches." A character teased for their gender presentation is called "freak."  

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a dark drama about a teen girl (Kiernan Shipka) with magical powers. Existing in the same world as Riverdale and classic Archie comic characters, it's an edgy retelling of the young witch's story. Violence includes deaths, stabbings with spurting blood, images of witches hanging from a tree, a character making a joke about having human flesh for dinner while standing over the body of a recently murdered teen, and more. Gothic imagery -- bats, fog, cemeteries -- may spook younger viewers. A teen is bullied for having an androgynous gender presentation. Sexual content consists of loving kisses between Sabrina and her boyfriend, talk about virginity (and why it's a requirement for a new witch), and an orgy that takes place at Sabrina's home (she's not involved). Language is infrequent but includes "bastard," "a--hole," "hell," "bulls--t," and made-up slang with a vulgar edge, like when Sabrina calls fellow witches "succubitches." A character is called "freak." Women and people of color have strong roles with agency; a main character is nonbinary. Sabrina in particular is tough but kind; she stands up for herself and for others against intense opposition, and she's a great role model for teens and tweens. That said, this magical world is darker, bloodier, and sexier than Harry Potter; think Buffy the Vampire Slayer with even more focus on the occult and evil. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bynaro108 November 3, 2018

Show is basically a lesson in Satanism for kids

Before I begin... I would like to mention that I am not a Christian.. nor am I particularly religious... so please don't discount my review on this basis.... Continue reading
Adult Written byAutisticYoungAdult October 30, 2018

VIOLENT - I was scared to sleep

I thought the TV-14 rating on this show meant "some swears, and you'll need to look at the wall sometimes because there's sexy stuff." Oh bo... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byEmma123riverdale October 28, 2018

I love the show

The chilling adventures of Sabrina is really awesome!!! I don't recommend for early teens maybe 16 and over. There was a scene were Sabrina see's 6 pe... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byBennettte3 October 30, 2018

*spoilers ahead*

Ok so I love the Melissa Joan heart classic show with the glitter magic and the zany situations, call it cheesy, that’s fine but I’m a fan. I knew going in that... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on a 2014 reimagining of the Archie comic Sabrina the Teenage Witch called CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA, this TV version picks up in modern times, with Sabrina (Shipka) on the verge of her 16th birthday, the time when she has to accept either the "Path of Light" (living as a mortal woman with no magical powers) or the "Path of Night" (living as a full witch under traditional rules). Since Sabrina's dad was a warlock and her mom a mortal, it's complicated for her -- and she doesn't like giving up control of her life to anyone or anything. So with the help of her Aunt Zelda (Miranda Otto), Aunt Hilda (Lucy Davis), boyfriend Harvey (Ross Lynch), and faithful cat Salem, Sabrina's looking to carve a new path in the witching world, no matter what unearthly forces oppose her. 

Is it any good?

Witchcraft becomes a meta-metaphor for female power in this smart, witty, and positively thrilling update of the cheesy teen-witch story that, like Riverdale, originated in Archie comics. This Sabrina is both darker and deeper, with more on its mind than the sitcom-with-magic antics on 1990s cult fave Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Compellingly, the new Sabrina grapples not only with the whiplash that comes from having one foot in the magical world and one in the mortal one, but also with the limitations that the world puts on her as a teenage girl. 

There's a moment that crystallizes Sabrina's relatable dilemma in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina's second episode, when Sabrina debates with another young witch over Sabrina's witch-age-of-majority choice: Should she sign her name in the Dark Lord's book and accept her full powers, along with restrictive rules? Or should she remain mortal, free to make her own choices? As Sabrina explains to her colleague, she wants it all: power and freedom. The other witch scoffs. The Dark Lord would never allow such a thing. Why? "He's a man, isn't he?" Is witchcraft a means of magical empowerment for Sabrina? Or is it just another trap? With such a sophisticated, sharp idea anchoring the drama, this thrill ride gives viewers something to chew on. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how witchcraft has traditionally been viewed on TV and at the movies. Think about how witches figure in some of the things you've watched. Are the witches depicted as heroic? Monstrous? Why does it vary, and what does this say about what witches represent to us?

  • Why is it important that Sabrina is young? How would this story change if she were an older character? What's interesting or special about youth, and why is it so often the center of drama? What types of stories make sense for young characters and not older ones? 

  • How does Sabrina demonstrate courage and self-control in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Character Strengths

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