‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ Review: Should You Watch Kiernan Shipka as Netflix’s Teenage Witch?

It’s been 22 years since Melissa Joan Hart first donned the pointy hat on ABC’s Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Now, Netflix took over the material for a much darker version of the story, starring Kiernan Shipka. Find whether you should watch this downright Satanic version on our Chilling Adventures of Sabrina review!
This isn’t the Sabrina Spellman you grew up watching. That sweet girl who’d do fun spells to her fellow Greendale citizens is long gone. Taking her place is a skinny blonde trying to mix her family’s Satanist beliefs with a 21st-century high school life.
And I am here for it.

The Setup

This was supposed to be a companion show to Riverdale on The CW, until Netflix ultimately picked it up. It’s supposed to be set in the same universe, and the neighboring town of Riverdale is mentioned. However, the tone is darker than allowed on network television, and it works pretty well.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Review: Acting

The Spellmans

The first thing you have to prepare yourself for when watching this show is Kiernan Shipka. If you never saw Mad Men, you’re in for a surprise; those familiar with the AMC show know she’s been killing it for years. It’s incredible how much she does on every scene, especially considering she’s only 18. This is a supernatural teenage show and Shipka probably won’t get much recognition awards-wise, but she’s incredible.
You’ll miss Salem speaking from the 90’s show, but you’ll also get a new and delicious character: Ambrose. Sabrina’s 20-year-old-looking cousin played by Chance Perdomo, he’s the sassy voice you need. He’s also one of the strong queer presences in the show. Perdomo brings it home from the get-go, with a very layered character, both witty and tormented.
Sabrina’s aunts have also changed quite a bit since the last time you saw them, particularly Zelda. You might remember Beth Broderick’s stern but sweet portrayal of aunt Zelda, and she couldn’t be more different. The new iteration, from Lord of the Rings actress Miranda Otto, is a Satanism fanatic and a short-tempered witch. She regularly kills and revives her sister, she plots behind her family’s back. Her love for Satan can look bigger than her love for family, though it’s not the case.
Otto’s otherworldly coldness might be the most chilling thing in Sabrina, particularly in relation to Hilda (Lucy Davis). The relationship between the witch sisters is truly horrible, with a clear victim (Hilda) and victimizer (Zelda). Davis is a breath of fresh air as the sweet and emotionally intelligent aunt Hilda, as she puts her family above everything else.

The Greendale Folk

Outside the Spellman home, the most interesting character is Michelle Gomez’s Madam Satan, always plotting in the background. Sabrina’s friends, Roz (Jaz Sinclair) and Susie (Lachlan Watson) do a lot with the limited time they have. It’s clear the writers put some love in creating them as fully-formed characters. The 100 alum Tati Gabrielle is a highlight among the teen cast, handing out some strong Draco Malfoy vibes.
Perhaps the weakest from the young cast is Austin & Alley actor Ross Lynch as Sabrina’s boyfriend Harvey, but it’s not his fault. The character is absolutely infuriating, and it seems absurd that badass Sabrina keeps putting herself in danger over this guy.

So, Should I Watch the New Sabrina?

If you’re willing to go into it with an open mind, yes. Other than character names and locations, this has nothing to do with the 90s show. The witches here are literally Satanic, and you can actually see Lucifer a few times. It’s not super scary (I for one found it almost campy), but it’s much darker than its counterpart.
You can stream Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix right now.