The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina premiered on Netflix a couple of years ago with the Yuletide Special releasing over the festive period of the same year. The show itself has received strong reviews across the board, following Riverdale as the show for people wanting a serious teen drama/fantasy fix.
Sabrina originated in the Archie comics and grew in popularity as the years passed, eventually leading to the Melissa Joan Hart lead show that premiered on the 27th September 1996 and ran through until April 2003. A whopping 163 episodes, and 3 made for TV films, were produced over 7 seasons. During which time Melissa Joan Hart became everything an entire generation knew about Sabrina Spellman, the sixteen-year-old who found out she was a witch on her birthday.
Sabrina The Teenage Witch, although successful made for lighter viewing, veering more towards a family-friendly witch, with comedic and teenage angst storylines that were never really upsetting or taxing to the characters or the viewers. It wasn’t wrong, it was just different, and its popularity highlighted this.
So, when Netflix announced a new series and cast, many felt that they would get the family-friendly storylines and jokes all over again. But they would soon find out they were wrong.
Predictably, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina took the same direction as Riverdale. The older teen audience was in its sights, and Netflix knew how to cater to this demographic. It also meant aligning more closely to the comic book Sabrina and developing a storyline that grew week by week, unlike the weekly sitcom-style approach of the 90s show. This doesn’t necessarily make it better, it just makes it different.
So of the characters, what should you know before diving into another Netflix series? Part 4 is on the horizon, and we thought it was time to go through what we think of the characters, both past and present.
It may be worth noting we all know about the animated series, voiced by Melissa Joan Hart’s younger sister Emily Hart, with Melissa voicing Zelda… Let’s just pretend that didn’t happen, for now!
Sabrina vs Sabrina
The 90s version of the show saw the main protagonist being played as a typical 90s teenager, we had all become accustomed to on TV of that era. In fact, and I mean this in a nice way, Melissa Joan Hart played the part we had expected when she moved on from being Clarissa in Clarissa Explains It All.
Now fast forward to 2018 and Sabrina became a strong teen preparing to become a witch, like her father. The darkness of the overall show was mirrored in the way in which the character was played by the fantastically talented Kiernan Shipka. Portraying a Sabrina who was prepared for her life as a witch by her aunts, with a darker, steelier edge to her journey through life. The new Sabrina making life-changing decisions and challenges, beyond simple teenage angst story lines the 90s version had served up.
Ultimately Sabrina 2018 has a massive decision to make that will change her life forever, and the devil meddles every step of the way.
Harvey vs Harvey
Harvey has always been a something of a weird character in Sabrina, portraying the popular sports star or the lost soul. His role, at times, had seemed to be vital in making Sabrina appear a stronger person when it wasn’t needed. In the 90s Harvey was, let’s face it, a comedic sidekick. The “How does he not know she’s a witch?” routine was played up so often. This not to take anything away from the actor, Nate Richert, and his portrayal. But let’s face it it was a bit of a marmite role to be playing.
Ross Lynch stepped into the role of Mr H Kinkle in 2018s series. Still playing a puppy role at times, but with harder-hitting storylines that would impact hugely on him, his family life and his life with Sabrina. Harvey’s life in much darker, as his character drops in and out various episodes unaware of Sabrina’s witchery, well up until a point.
All in all, both Harvey’s could be described as there. Just there. Nothing more or less. It’s safe to say that 2018 Harvey is more impactful in the series and may well continue to be.
Zelda vs Zelda
If you were a teen boy in the 90s Beth Broderick as Aunt Zelda may well have been a confusing or guilty crush? No, well…. Erm, let’s move on. Beth Broderick’s portrayal of Zelda was strong and acted as the stabilising force in the household. Helping Sabrina navigate her complex teenage life, as well as her even more complex teenage witch life. Zelda was written as a character that was common of 90s kids shows, and sitcoms in general.
Miranda Otto of Lord of the Rings fame plays an even stronger version of Zelda in the Netflix commissioned version of the show. The character is strong and formidable, to the point of getting a little homicidal (don’t worry witches can be brought back to life) when her sister annoys her sister on a more than one occasion.
She is a force to be reckoned with in the household and is definitely not one to be crossed. However, she does show her softer side at key points throughout the show. Ultimately, she wants the best for Sabrina but is unaware of the devils meddling in Sabrina’s dead parent's lives or Sabrina’s.
Hilda vs Hilda
The Hilda of the 90s was quirky and very much there to be a lighter light for Sabrina to take advice from. Caroline Rhea played the role in a suitably light-hearted manner. Essentially becoming the parental figure who always (metaphorically) handed out dessert, secretly behind Zelda’s back.
Jasper Carrot. If you weren’t around in the 80s and early 90s you will have no idea who he is, and how popular a stand-up comedian and sitcom actor he was. Anyway, as it turns out, Lucy Davis (of The Office UK and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them) is the new Hilda. Again, Hilda is the encouraging and lighter aunt in the household. However, she is also a powerful witch that demons would be wise not to cross. Her love of Sabrina and supportive nature of the young witch’s rights in choosing her own destiny puts her at odds with her sister, resulting in her untimely demise on more than one occasion at Zelda’s hands. Overall 2018s Hilda is a far deeper and more complex character than 90s Hilda ever had to be.
Salem the Cat
Nick Bakay played Salem the cat in the 90s series. A powerful warlock locked inside a cats body for breaking witchcraft rules. Primarily a comedy sidekick in the 90s he is replaced by a non-speaking cat, acting as Sabrina Familiar Spirit. Salem, in 2018, is a powerful Familiar who, on more than one occasion, comes to Sabrina’s rescue.
Chance Perdomo plays Ambrose Spellman, Sabrina’s Warlock cousin, who is under house arrest for trying to blow up the Vatican. The Witches Council didn’t take to that too well. Ambrose is a philosophical character who provides guidance to his cousin aimed at making her embrace her free spirit.
A pivotal character and incredibly powerful warlock who makes misguided decisions that, as you read above, can have far-reaching consequences. His character helps bring the household together and has some serious storylines partly centred around him that are not to be missed.
Michelle Gomez is an incredible comedic actor, hailing from Scotland. A well-known face on British TV with many credits to her name plays a dark Madam Satan.
Madam Satan is tasked with ensuring Sabrina moves in the direction the devil desires. Taking over from Ms Wardwell as Sabrina’s teacher, it gives her direct access to influence the young witch and provide access to books and information that would have previously been out of reach. Madam Satan becomes a central influence on the entire family as the series progresses. It remains to be seen whether she continues to weave her web as a trusted member of the group, or if she will give herself away. At times an enigma, but always a lethal adversary waiting to strike.
The Weird Sisters
The Weird Sisters (played by Tati Gabrielle, Abigail Cowen and Adeline Rudolph) are a powerful group of witches who attend the same witches’ college as Sabrina. Their hatred of half-bloods leads to the bullying of Sabrina, then is followed by them becoming restless and dangerous allies as the series progresses. Their mischievous behaviour goes beyond normal boundaries resulting in real harm to other witches and humans. The characters are central to key areas of the plot and are only likely to become more and more significant as part two of the series arrives on Netflix.
Netflix, adding on the solid foundation of Riverdale, has created a show that has received critical and viewer acclaim. A shift to the darker side of the Sabrina universe has worked wonders for a show that could have easily ended up a dud.
What do you think of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina? Who is your favourite character(s)? Why not let us know below…