Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
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Sabrina navigates patriarchal 'paradox,' finds empowerment in Chilling Adventures

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Oct 18, 2018, 2:54 PM EDT

For the creator of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, following up Riverdale with Archie's witchy neighbor was more than a shift in focus — it was a shift in tone. The story needed to be much darker and more focused on adventure than the sexy, soapy antics of those high schoolers.

Kiernan Shipka’s Sabrina was going to have a coming-of-age story told through dark magic and other ghoulishly fun channels, which meant the plot itself needed to echo some more overtly progressive themes than Aguirre-Sacasa’s first foray into Archie-land.

Sabrina, unlike seemingly everyone on Riverdale, isn’t constantly having a comical amount of sex. In fact, as Aguirre-Sacasa says, neither she nor boyfriend Harvey have had it at all. The empowerment of witchery is tied up in female sexuality, but it’s going to manifest first in more political terms. That’s because in this world, “witches worship the Dark Lord, who is a patriarchal figure,” Aguirre-Sacasa told Variety. “So the show is kind of based on a paradox: These women are empowered [because] they’re witches, but they are subservient to a patriarch.”

When Sabrina is introduced, on the eve of her “dark baptism” and about to receive her powers, she takes issue with this “paradox.” Why should these witches obey a man? Sabrina pushes against all that as the show goes on. As the showrunner notes, “our forces of evil are patriarchal figures — the Dark Lord, the High Priest, Principal Hawthorne. They’re all variations on that theme.”

So of course Sabrina was going to be magically fighting The Man — she’s the only character actively questioning the Church of Night — but she’ll also be fighting the idea of bad men in power. Utilizing the show’s predominately female writers room to achieve this balance will be interesting, especially since the genre has such a long history of this thematic juxtaposition running through it.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina curses Netflix on Oct. 26.