A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch is the third animated series inspired by Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. This one finds Sabrina in high school, trying to keep secret her true identity as she balances the demands of being a half-witch. Rather than dealing only in innocent magical mayhem, this series sees villains actively plotting against Sabrina, which sometimes puts human bystanders in dangerous situations and gives the show a more mature feel than past ones. The female characters also look older and sexier, with developed breasts (and clothes that show them off), long and lanky physiques, and impossibly tiny waists.
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What's the story?
At first glance, Sabrina Spellman (voiced by Ashley Tisdale) is a typical high schooler, but there's more to her than meets the eye; she's also a talented witch-in-training and future queen of the magical world. There she attends class taught by Enchantra (Kathleen Barr), the conniving Head Witch who's plotting the match of future magical queen Sabrina and her own son, Shinji (James Higuchi), to ensure her continued grip on the kingdom. But Shinji and Sabrina are far from cozy, and, in truth, she prefers the company of her human friends, particularly the sweet-natured Harvey (Matthew Erickson), his cute friend Jim (David A. Kaye), and her loyal best friend, Jessie. Being half-human and half-witch can get complicated, particularly when her two worlds collide in unpredictable ways and she must sort out the trouble without letting everyone in on her secret identity.
Is it any good?
Contrary to two previous cartoons designed around this amicable character, SABRINA: SECRETS OF A TEENAGE WITCH takes plenty of liberties with the time-tested formula originally laid out in the long-running Sabrina, The Teenage Witch. She still lives with her two eccentric aunts, she still tries to stay incognito among her human friends, and she's still prone to magical mishaps, but the introduction of deliberate troublemakers adds a new and slightly darker element of uncertainty to the show. What's more, not only are Enchantra and Shinji working against Sabrina, they've also planted a spy and resident saboteur -– her cat, Salem (Ian James Corlett) –- in her midst.
Also new to this series is a surprising lack of consequences for Sabrina's actions, particularly when they draw her unsuspecting human friends into the magical fray. Here she spends less time working out solutions to predicaments that put her friends at risk and more time worrying about catching the eye of the boy she likes, and her lack of attention rarely seems to matter to the story's outcome. Add to this a noticeably sexier look to the female characters, and it's clear that this incarnation warrants some careful consideration for the kid crowd.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether the consequences fit the actions in this series. Does Sabrina learn from the mistakes she makes? Do they ever get her or her friends into serious trouble? How might the outcome be different for similar actions in the real world?
Tweens: Have you seen any of the other Sabrina series? What do you think inspired the need for another? How is this one different from the others? Does it appeal to a different crowd?
Tweens: What messages do you get from ads or TV characters about desirable body image? Do you feel pressure to look or dress a certain way? Where does that pressure come from? How can you combat it and embrace individuality?
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