Netflix has released the character descriptions for their new series, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Sabrina, which began life as a Riverdale off-shoot, is beginning to materialize. As expected given its Riverdale origins, Sabrina is aiming for a more darker tone than the Melissa Joan Hart comedy series, Sabrina the Teenage Witch. It also appears like the series will be going for a more modern and racially diverse cast as well.
The ’90s/early ’00s Sabrina comedy show is most people’s association with the character. However, Sabrina has a very long history. She’s been a mainstay of Archie Comics for decades. Sabrina has had several adventures with the Riverdale Gang, particularly Jughead, on the comic page and outside of it. While most Sabrina iterations do aim for a wholesome tone, the comic series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – which the show will be based on – went for a much creepier and occult version. Yet as twisted as Sabrina’s world was in the comic, she at least looked the same as she has always been; a little blonde white girl. For the TV series, however, that might change.
The character descriptions were released via That Hashtag Show. They’re very detailed but it’s clear that blonde isn’t a requirement to play Sabrina. The description for Sabrina reads:
[SABRINA SPELLMAN]Female, Open ethnicity, legal 18 or 18+ to play 16. Sabrina is an empowered young woman, half-human, half-witch, struggling to reconcile her dual natures. She is just beginning her dark education as a sorceress, even as she tries to maintain some semblance of a normal life as a sophomore at Baxter High. Sabrina’s intelligent, compassionate, and brave to the point of recklessness. She challenges witch-doctrine at every turn. She is fiercely loyal to her family and friends; wickedly funny; and in the middle of a star-crossed romance with her classmate Harvey Kinkle. Sabrina is all that stands between us and the Forces of Darkness that threaten our world. SERIES LEAD.
Sabrina wasn’t the only character to have her description released. Three series regulars are joined with Sabrina, her two aunts as well as her cousin Ambrose:
[HILDA SPELLMAN]Female, late 30s to early 40s, All Ethnicities. Hilda is the kinder of the Spellman sisters who are raising Sabrina, though her nurturing nature belies a more ruthless side. She is a healer, a potion-maker, sweet-as-pie until you cross her or anyone she leaves. Operating the local funeral home, the sisters hide their witchery from the world while teaching Sabrina spells and incantations at home…ASP SERIES REGULAR
[ZELDA SPELLMAN]Female, late 30s to early 40s, All Ethnicities. Zelda is the harsher of the Spellman sisters who helped raise Sabrina, though her sternness and tough facade might be hiding a more…mothering soul. Unlike Hilda, Zelda claims that she has never known love—her devotion to the Dark Lord is all-consuming—which is why people looking for a love-potion go to Hilda; those looking to make a spite-jar go to Zelda…ASP SERIES REGULAR
[AMBROSE SPELLMAN]Male, early 20s, African American or East Indian, British. Ambrose is Sabrina’s “cousin” and a necromancer. He is witty, puckish, pan-sexual—and loves being a witch. Trapped in the funeral home due to a binding spell, Ambrose lives in the mortuary’s attic and acts as one of Sabrina’s partners in crime…10/13 SERIES REGULAR
The descriptions, at least in terms of personality, for Sabrina and her aunts is largely expected. Although it will come as a shock to those who love the sitcom, Hilda and Zelda are much more nefarious characters in the comic series. Naturally the show will want to emulate that for their series – though it is somewhat shocking that Zelda’s description seemingly name drops Satan.
It is interesting how all of the women though have open ethnicity as a part of their descriptions. While this doesn’t guarantee that women of color will be cast in The Chilling of Adventures of Sabrina, it certainly increases the chances. Though Sabrina might not be a direct spin-off of Riverdale, it’s coming from largely the same team. Riverdale has already proven that they’re more than open to diverse casting, with Veronica Lodge being Latina and Josie (of the Pussycats) being a young black woman.
It’s the description for Ambrose that is the biggest departure. As the breakdown implies, Ambrose might not be Sabrina’s biological cousin and simply someone who is accepted as a part of the family. Even if Sabrina isn’t cast a woman of color, it appears Ambrose will be one. The casting makes clear they’re looking for an African-American or East Indian actor. It also appears that this version of Ambrose will follow suit with the one in the comic Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and be literally from the “Old Country”.
All of these changes, even the more unexpected ones, do seem promising. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina does need to differentiate itself quickly from the goofy sitcom. Having a Sabrina that looks and acts radically different from Melissa Joan Hart would be an easy way to manage.
There’s still much, much more that needs to be revealed about the series – the least of which being if it will be connected to Riverdale at all. Still something wicked (and wonderful) seems to be coming with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
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