By this point, you’ve hopefully had the chance to watch all 10 episodes of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s first season (or, as Netflix would like to call it because it’s a classier show than Riverdale aka Hot Archie That Fucks, “Part 1”). And after doing so — or at least after getting through the first episode and saying, “eh, not for me” — you probably had one very specific thought: “This show definitely ruined my childhood… but I’m not exactly sure how.”
To be fair, you probably had this very specific thought before you even saw the show, either when it was first announced or when you saw the first trailer for it. After all, before there was Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, there was the Melissa Joan Hart-led sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch. (There were also the Sabrina the Teenage Witch and more recent Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comics, the latter of which is the inspiration for this new show, while the former inspired the previous show. A childhood ruining revelation, I’m sure.)
As someone who watches television professionally, I decided to make the best use of my time and note every single moment within this season of television — on an episode-by-episode basis — that so very clearly went out of its way to ruin childhoods, so now you’ll have exact reference points to note when discussing in reasonable internet debate how, exactly, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina ruined your childhood. I’d say “you’re welcome,” but I didn’t do this for the congratulations: I did this for the sanctity of nostalgia.
SPOILERS for both Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina follow.
“Chapter One: October Country”
- And so it begins. The opening credits in all their chilling — like the show’s title — comic book glory. Where is the mirror? Where are the ridiculous costumes and awful one-liners? Where are the bubbles? Save the comic book opening credits for iZombie and the show’s inevitable Emmy nomination.
- In the sitcom, a demon never killed and took the visage of Sabrina’s favorite teacher — unless that’s the origin story you want to come up with for Paul Feig’s transformation into Paul Feig: Prolific Director — so this is the most obvious instance of childhood being ruined. Yes, we can all admit that Michelle Gomez as Miss Wardwell/Madam Satan is literally the best aspect of every episode of this show (though an argument can be made for Miranda Otto’s Aunt Zelda), but that’s not the point here.
- Melissa Joan Hart’s character never mercy-killed a bat. Or any animal, as far as I can remember. We were never told what happened to her alligator on Clarissa Explains It All though, were we?
- Harvey keeps calling Sabrina “Brina.” Oh no, every mortal friend keeps calling her “‘Brina.” This is actually a legitimately obnoxious part of the show. Salem calling her “Sabrini” in the sitcom was genuinely funny, and now I fear that I might actually stumble upon how this show has ruined my childhood.
- Wait, here we go. This is the biggest childhood ruining aspect of it all: Instead of being a megalomaniac human and would-be fascist who was punished (his talking cat origin story) for trying to take over the world (with Hilda’s help, making his existence in the Spellman household her punishment and fault) and continuing to be a lying, manipulative burden on the whole Spellman clan, this Salem is just a goblin (all familiars are goblins in this show) who is basically Sabrina’s familiar soulmate and chooses to be by her side through thick and thin.
That last one really is a “CHILDHOOD RUINED!” situation, because imagine all the discussions and pieces wondering why Salem doesn’t talk on this show finally coming to terms with the fact that Salem (and Hilda) was actually the worst. There’s a reason I always let my Salem the Cat Giga Pet die. (Alright, it wasn’t intentional. Those games were rigged, and we were all dumb children for thinking they weren’t.)
“Chapter Two: The Dark Baptism”
- Zelda and Hilda (Lucy Davis) share a bedroom, with two separate beds. This is definitely a childhood-ruining situation, especially when you consider the fan fiction. Actually, now that I think about it, it could be a childhood-enriching situation, again, when you consider the fan fiction. Yes, they’re biological sisters, but the combination of accents and the show never exactly explaining the family tree is where they get you. Seriously, who are Ambrose’s (Chance Perdomo) parents, because we definitely know who is cousin and aunties are? The Dark Lord works in mysterious ways.
- 90% of what Sabrina wears in this show is red, and while it looks amazing on her, none of it will ever look as good as THIS:
“Chapter Three: The Trial of Sabrina Spellman”
Just to be clear: The amount of exposition when it comes to explaining the rules of magic and the witch world in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is actually very much like childhood. It seems like Melissa Joan Hart’s Sabrina kept being told the rules of magic, and yet she never learned everything, even if the audience did. Kiernan Shipka’s Sabrina, on the other hand, appears to know even more, and the lessons she learns from those rules of magic just so happen to be the wrong ones every single time. (Seriously: Every. Single. Time. If you didn’t make it that far in the season but are still reading this, that’s it. That’s the show.)
- This one feels like it’s buried far enough into this piece that I can sneak it in without it becoming the focus… Chilling Adventures of Sabrina reveals that Richard Coyle — aka Jeff from Coupling — got hot. Even with those nails and his obvious villainy. Maybe even because of those nails and his obvious villainy. Childhood ruined?
“Chapter Four: Witch Academy”
- Everything about “The Harrowing” and the Weird Sisters (Tati Gabrielle, Adeline Rudolph, Abigail Cowen), really. In the sitcom, Libby would have just called Sabrina a “freak,” and that would be the end of it. In retrospect, Libby was kind of really lame. So this is double childhood ruination.
- A cadre of ghost children also seems very anti-sitcom, but I will admit I could see it being something Sabrina the Teenage Witch would’ve tried in its WB years. No one was watching the show then, so it very well could’ve happened.
- Sabrina Spellman says, “I’ll choke you to death on your own blood.” On second thought, Libby was absolutely right — Sabrina really is a freak.
“Chapter Five: Dreams in a Witch House”
Funny story: Starting with this particular episode, the show basically got way too interesting for me to want to focus on this whole “CHILDHOOD RUINED!” gimmick. Although, I suppose teenage witch Sabrina Spellman going all-in on Satan should definitely count as a “CHILDHOOD RUINED!” note of the highest order. (Like I mentioned already, wrong lessons, every single time.)
So the thing is, the biggest issue anyone can really take with this episode is that it’s a lesser version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Restless,” but what dream episode of television isn’t a lesser version of “Restless?” (The actual answer is Blindspot’s “Everlasting,” as it takes the dream episode trope and instead turns it into the superior Groundhog Day episode trope. Because Blindspot fucks.
But back to the task at hand…
- Funnily enough, dream Hawthorne’s stillborn brother and the conjoined dream Zelda/dream Hilda actually feel like the type of things that would have happened in Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Since they apparently did not, this means someone’s childhood is ruined by knowing there’s a plot the sitcom missed out on. At least now that someone’s got a free idea for a Sabrina the Teenage Witch spec.
“Chapter Six: An Exorcism in Greendale”
I was genuinely surprised to learn (or, be reminded) that Sabrina the Teenage Witch never actually attempted to tackle a The Exorcist riff in its patented cheesy way, so I originally figured this episode didn’t ruin any childhoods by doing so. But even without an analogous episode, this episode somehow probably ruins childhoods the least. The most I could note is that Sabrina astral projecting to negotiate with a demon is probably something that wouldn’t have happened in the sitcom… but honestly, it totally would have. You can imagine the one-liners — and Salem crying — already, can’t you?
So I guess what I’m saying is: Yeah, the episode with a full-blown exorcism? Perfect for your inner child.
“Chapter Seven: Feast of Feasts”
Aunt Hilda’s truth cake is actually the most sitcom-y moment of this entire series, but…
- Instead of feasting on pancakes, Sabrina is expected to feast on the flesh of a witch. She doesn’t, but what’s one good decision when the rest of her decisions are all wrong?
- While Lindsay Sloane was of course magical (just by virtue of being Lindsay Sloane), Sabrina the Teenage Witch never decided all of Sabrina’s friends should also have some supernatural powers of their own. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, on the other hand, just starts handing out powers and witch-hunting backstories seemingly out of nowhere around this point. Depending on how you feel about the mortal characters on this show, either that’s a betrayal of your childhood or the most necessary choice this show could make to get these characters to be interesting in any way.
“Chapter Eight: The Burial”
Again, in an aspect that hearkens right back to childhood, this episode is a reminder that Sabrina really should stop doing spells on her boyfriend. And yet, she does not. So childhood remains intact with that.
- This show’s Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch) is better than sitcom Harvey Kinkle in terms of not having those sideburns or those earrings — really, Nate Richards was one of the stranger teen heartthrobs of the ‘90s, especially when Sabrina somehow chose him over Donald Faison — but in terms of childhood ruination, I can’t say I’ve ever expected any version of Harvey Kinkle to say “chickenshit” a bunch of times. And just to be clear, it really is terrible each and every time, so this actually goes past ruining one’s childhood into ruining every scene in which it happens on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
- Oh yeah, Sabrina sacrifices a witch to bring a mortal back to life. Childhood ruined! You know, because of the murder aspect, no matter how temporary it is.
“Chapter Nine: The Returned Man”
- Harvey Kinkle murders his zombie brother. At least it proves he’s not chickenshit and there are extenuating circumstances, but it’s still another case of one of these teens murdering someone.
“Chapter Ten: The Witching Hour”
- As I’ve previously mentioned, Sabrina accepting Satan into her heart counts as ruining one’s childhood, I guess? That’s kind of a childhood buzzkill when you really factor in everything about this show. Melissa Joan Hart’s Sabrina, I’d never want her to pledge her allegiance to the Dark Lord, because that’s just not how they rolled on ABC/The WB. But here? Who does Sabrina Spellman think she is, thinking she’s too good for Satan? (This show may have warped my view on some things. I watched all these episodes in the middle of the night, for proper mood-setting.)
And there you have it — a definitive list of every single moment in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina that have clearly ruined your and others’ childhoods. No more, no less… as long as you ignore the point where I said it became difficult to truly capture “every single moment” as the show got better.
I hope it’s clear that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying Sabrina the Teenage Witch — unless we’re talking The WB years, that is. But Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s approach to its (darker, which is surprisingly the first time I’ve brought up the dreaded d-word here) source material isn’t an attempt to erase that enjoyment or even the very concept of a sitcom approach to Sabrina Spellman’s misadventures. In fact, the people behind this show clearly have a sense of humor about the whole thing.
In fact, it’s almost as if the idea of a childhood being ruined by an adaptation of a spin-off source material — or any new spin on anything from years ago — is such a childish, misinformed line of thinking in the first place. But I guess that couldn’t possibly be true, because there was a sassy talking cat (again, whose backstory was actually terrible) in the sitcom. (Spoiler alert: It’s true, and in fact, finally processing childhood hallmarks through more mature eyes is what ruins childhood. Well, that and genuine traumatic events from childhood, I guess.)