A few months ago, yours truly wrote up a piece for this very site making the case for why The CW needs to reboot Sabrina the Teenage Witch as a modern horror series akin to the murder mystery facelift given to Archie comics with Riverdale. As you may have heard by now, this exact project has now been officially announced as in development. Of course, I am taking sole credit for it, but while I wait for my check (which is definitely coming), I thought I’d also run through some of the things that we here at SYFY Fangrrls hope to see in the new Sabrina series.
1. Legit scares
The new series is reportedly going to be based on the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic book series that has emphasized the more horror-based elements of the character. This is great and something that the show should highly lean into. The best types of comedic genre pieces are ones in which the danger is taken seriously. If the show does include humor, which I hope it does, it should come from circumstances and characters. Think Shaun of the Dead, which functions as a completely in-genre zombie movie as much as it does a comedy.
2. A sense of humor
As a Riverdale spinoff, the new series likely won’t be able to push too far in any sort of absurd direction, but still, a series called Sabrina the Teenage Witch should never take itself too seriously. The scares should be real, but this should not be a teen angst series. To compare it to another CW shared universe, if Riverdale is the Arrow of this new “Archieverse,” then Sabrina should bypass the Flash and jump right into the tone of the second season of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, where the world is very much frequently in danger but also Civil War zombies are a thing. I’m not asking for a new version of the sitcom, just a show that knows what it is and leans into it. This show begs to be a blend of horror and comedy, a new generation’s Buffy if you will, except without all that stuff that doesn’t hold up.
3. Lesbian aunts
The CW shows, in general, do better than most other networks when it comes to really pushing for greater representation of their core audience and the culture in general. With that in mind, gonna go ahead and let you know that like SYFY’s Wynonna Earp, you’re gonna get a lot of queer ladies watching this show, and we demand to be satisfied. In addition to any queer characters who may be closer to Sabrina’s age, turning her guardian aunts from a pair of sisters into a married couple would be a very easy way to do this. Not only would it be a natural fit, but it would also provide a great place to put in a lesbian couple that is long-term, happy, and not as likely to be in any immediate peril, which would be a great offset for the "Bury Your Gays" trope that we’re all so sick of. And of course there’s always room for the sister of one of the aunts to occasionally have guest appearances, perhaps played by Melissa Joan Hart in that way these shows like to recast actors from previous incarnations. Oh, and if you're looking for casting suggestions for this magical sapphic pair, I believe Freema Agyeman and Jamie Clayton have recently been made available.
4. A respect for actual cultures in the world
A danger that so many shows touching on witchcraft and sorcery fall into is in failing to properly respect the cultures from which they take their magic. Even J.K. Rowling faced harsh criticism when she adopted Native American magical elements into her American settings. This show can and absolutely should incorporate traditions and stories from other cultures, but always with the utmost respect and diligent research to give them the credit they’re due. This also lends itself immediately to being an avenue to encourage ethnic diversity with the show’s casting in order to showcase this type of folklore or religious magical beliefs in a way that doesn’t feel appropriative.
Real talk, no matter how much darker or grittier you want this show to be versus the ’90s sitcom, y’all better not be even thinking about doing it without a talking cat. I mean, I know that this is an adaptation of the comic book and not really a reboot of the TV series, but come on. What is Sabrina without her black cat? With the advances in CGI and talking animal technology since then, you could totally give us a new Salem that hits the perfect level of believable but still brings the right element of campy charm to a show that will positively be begging for it. Plus, like I said before, this show is going to have an army of queer lady viewers and you do not want to cross us by not including the cat.