For this week’s Femme Fatale Friday, I have decided to take a look at the character of Sabrina Spellman. She is the character that started as a witchy addition to the Archie Comics lineup in the 1960s, even getting her own cartoon in that era. Her next major iteration was in the 1990s when Melissa Joan Hart starred as the Teenage Witch in a television movie and eventually the sitcom many of us grew up with. There were also subsequent tv movies that followed along with the plot of the sitcom and even another cartoon with Melissa Joan Hart’s sister Emily voicing a younger Sabrina and Melissa herself voicing the aunts Hilda and Zelda! Finally, the most recent iteration of this character is the one played by Kiernan Shipka in the Netflix series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, based on the comics of the same name. In this post, I will be focusing on the 90s sitcom and the Netflix series in looking at Sabrina as a character.
My first introduction to this character was through the 90s sitcom, as I was a little girl when it was airing. I also would go on to love watching the re-runs after the series had wrapped up. This version of Sabrina was very much a normal teen of the 90s attempting to find a balance in her life between her two selves, mortal and human. It was largely played for laughs as she discovered her witchy heritage on her 16th birthday and had to learn the rules of the witch world through trial and error, with the help of her aunts and talking cat Salem. As the series progressed she was able to have room to grow into new parts of herself, maturing into adulthood and figuring out how her two worlds could come together. Although it is most often light-hearted and silly, the show also had touching and poignant moments. This made it a staple viewing treat for many people during the original run! It is also why it is viewed with fond nostalgia today.
In the Netflix series, the viewer is dropped into a darker and grittier world. Sabrina is now a young witch about to turn 16, but this time she has known that she was a witch all along. On her 16th birthday, instead of just getting her powers, like in the 90s sitcom, she is supposed to go through her Dark Baptism. In this version, Sabrina was raised by her aunts after the death of both of her parents. Her father was once the High Priest in the Church of Night because in this telling (keeping with the dark take) they are Satanic witches. At least, this is the case until the season three finale when Zelda re-imagines the coven as a sisterhood in devotion to Hekate! In the second season, it is revealed that Sabrina is not a Spellman by blood at all, instead, she is the daughter of Lucifer himself! This leads to many high-stakes escapades, including splitting her consciousness into two separate parts. One who is Sabrina Spellman living in Greendale, and the other is Sabrina Morningstar, Princess of Hell! Of the changes, the addition of characters is one major point in the series, she has other friends who differ from the ones in earlier iterations. Harvey Kinkle still begins the series as her boyfriend, but the Warlock Nick Scratch ended up becoming her main love interest as the series progressed! I really enjoyed watching Lilith as a character, as well as seeing this more complex take on Sabrina. She is still a teenager who makes major mistakes, however, here she remains a teenager for the entire four-season run. In the end, she makes a very mature choice in order to save all of the people that she loved! While I have seen many people disparage this series (as all the Riverdale-universe series tend to be over-the-top and hilariously bad at times), I personally have always truly enjoyed it. I think it is a better-done series than others in this maligned universe, to be honest! I also really enjoyed seeing Sabrina make an alternate-universe guest appearance on Riverdale!
I hope you have enjoyed reading my thoughts on the evolution of the character of Sabrina Spellman. Which is your favorite iteration of the perennial Teenage Witch? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Sabrina from the Netflix series. I found the image on https://hero.fandom.com/wiki/Sabrina_Spellman_(2018).
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996)
- The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)