Why we need a 'Sabrina the Teenage Witch' reboot

Contributed by
Jul 19, 2017

Okay, slowly remove your clutched hands from those pearls that you definitely grasped the moment you read that headline. I know. No, I know. But just curb the urge you have to give me a talking-cat level of sass and hear me out. The time is perfect for a new Sabrina the Teenage Witch series. One that is dark, scary, and has just the right amount of camp so that it doesn't take itself too seriously. 

We’ve already seen how successful The CW has been with bringing Archie and the gang back to relevance with the soaped-up (and murdered-up) debut season of Riverdale. It hits the exact parameters of what makes a truly good reboot, by giving us the winks and nods we need to recognize characters we know and love, that dash of familiarity, with the added elements of crafting a new and thoroughly contemporary story. It’s simultaneously timeless and relevant, which is no small feat.

There has been talk about Riverdale including their own version of Sabrina as a character since even before the show began, and it would be practically foolish to assume that she won’t appear sometime in Season 2. So really, I’m not even trying to make the case for you as to why Sabrina deserves a reboot, because she's on her way, that’s definitely happening. I’m telling you why Sabrina deserves to be the Barry Allen to Riverdale’s Arrow, a character destined to star in an inevitable spin-off before cameras roll.

A modern, hour-long and veering-to-the-darker side Sabrina reboot is something The CW could very much use right now. The network has come a long way in recent years in establishing its very specific place in the world of network television, what with its campy adventure brand with the DC comic book shows; complicated comedic fare that isn’t afraid to go dark, like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend or Jane the Virgin; and of course perennial favorites like Supernatural, the just-ended Vampire Diaries and The 100. What it needs now is a show that combines the girl-power of an I, Zombie or Supergirl with the teenage melodrama of Riverdale to become this decade’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Veronica Mars.

While the Buffy series was a reboot helmed by her original creator, the elements that made it such an immediately enjoyable and memorable show can still be replicated with a Sabrina-centric spin-off. You’ve got the built-in name recognition, you’ve got the establishment of a character that both the target audience and fans of the original have a fondness for, and frankly, the name alone, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, makes for an absurdly simple pitch. You know what you’re getting into.

Just as how a major part of the appeal of Riverdale is how well these goofy comic book characters fall into the angsty teens-meet-murder-mystery adaptation, such would be the case of similarly mapping a lead that most folks today remember from a TGIF sitcom or her previous cartoon and comic book series.

The Sabrina sitcom ended in 2003, which would translate to around 15-16 years by the time a Riverdale spinoff would get greenlit, shot, teased at SDCC and eventually premiere. That’s a perfect incubation period for an entire generation of tween and teen girls who missed that most recent incarnation, or who may at best have picked it up in syndicated reruns.

Ask any comic book shop owner how difficult it’s been to keep Riverdale-adjacent titles on the shelf and then tell me those same teen and tween girls wouldn’t fork over even more money to devour stories of a girl close to their own age, dealing with many of the same issues they do, and with magical powers to boot. Sabrina already has a more horror-themed comic book reboot that has seen a recent increase in demand for this very reason, according to the folks at my friendly local comic book store. 

The potential to combine an empowered teenage heroine with that CW brand blend of matter-of-fact diversity with stories that feel nostalgic is astronomical. Imagine the impact of a show that doesn’t need to wait till the fourth season to depict one of its core ensemble characters as queer, or doesn’t feel any pressure to whitewash its core cast by being willing to handle some of the same racial issues already touched on in Riverdale. Taking that possibility and factoring in the extremely easy pitch, all you really need is a showrunner who really knows what she’s doing and it’s hard to understand why this show hasn’t already happened.