Netflix has made a name for itself by making web-series based on comic books. The individual series of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and The Iron Fist all combined to make up The Defenders. Now, Netflix has gone a darker route by invoking Satan to conjure up the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Netflix has made a name for itself by making web-series based on comic books. This new series has gone a darker route by invoking Satan to conjure up the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
Based on the early comic book series by Archie Comics, Sabrina the Teenage Witch was created on the premise that the main character, Sabrina Spellman, was known to be the offspring of a human and warlock – making her her half-witch and half-human. In the comics much of her adventures surround her coming to terms with this dichotomy and seeking to understand how to use her various magical powers to secretly help her friends.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch debuted in Archie’s Madhouse in 1962 and made regular appearances in Archie’s TV Laugh-Out from 1969-1985. From 1971-1983, a comic titled Sabrina the Teenage Witch ran for 77 issues. In 1996, a live-action sitcom that went by the same name aired on ABC to 17 million viewers in its T.G.I.F lineup.
The TV show departed from the original Archie by claiming that Sabrina found out about her magical powers on her sixteenth birthday. In the original comics Sabrina knows at a very young age that she is part witch. This makes sense because she lives with her two aunts who are both witches as well.
While the 90’s TV version deviated from the original comics a bit, it was still meant to be lighthearted and comedic. Netflix' new adaptation is anything but funny. Playing off the increased self-identification of Americans who claim to be Wiccan or Pagan, Netflix has shown that they are concerned with viewers not virtue.
In 2014, the Pew Research Foundation identified that 0.4 percent of Americans, or 1 to 1.5 million, identify as Wiccan or Pagan. Granted, some of those results just may be overly-ecstatic Harry Potter fans, but nonetheless the number seems to be growing. The Christian Post even noted that self-identified Pagans and Witches might now outnumber certain mainline denominations.
In bringing about the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina as a web series, Netflix has shown their cards a bit. The new series is hyper-dark and, unlike the 90’s version, not kid friendly at all. It focuses specifically on Satanic rituals and worship. There is no attempt to mask the villainy in the series showing that Netflix doesn’t have moral boundaries that they are unwilling to cross in the making of new series.
In fairness, the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina isn’t nearly as bad as Netflix’s atrocity Insatiable. The film style is intriguing, sometimes artistic, and the series is obviously trying to be a commentary on numerous social ills in society. Beyond this, there are far more plot nuances and ethical conundrums to consider.
Moreover as a show, CAS acknowledges that there is good and evil – and Sabrina even struggles with considering what comprises moral decisions. The problem is that the show often resorts to utilitarian ethics and when the starting point is “serving the Dark Lord,” really no future decision much matters because one’s outcomes are going to be bad.
Additionally what is interesting though is the show’s willingness to acknowledge Christianity as something good and draw opposite fictional parallels to it when constructing the evil in each episode. Main characters that are openly sinister recognize this fact and verbally condemn the church. Moreover the whole show revolves around Sabrina’s denial of her “Dark Baptism” and her initial refusal to sign “The book of the Beast” as she seeks to find a better way – something of a middle-ground that honors the evil of witch culture and the good of human culture.
Unfortunately no such compromise ultimately exists between the two. Manipulation by evil to urge one to become evil only yields evil. That is a lesson that Netflix has apparently failed to learn as of yet. If one submits to Satan – one becomes an agent of the Devil.
Reality Changing Observations:
Q1. Do you share concerns about Netflix creating shows that feature intentionally demonic themes and why?
Q2. Have you ever faced an ethical issue that you didn’t know how to respond to and, if so, what guided you to ultimately make your decision?
Q3. What do you think draws people to be part of anti-Christian, or even openly demonic, social groups?