All episodes of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are now streaming on Netflix.
[Ed. Note: Being that TV and City is on a bit of a hiatus, this article has not been edited.]
By Greg Wheeler
Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina returns for a second season, with a new school year and a new attitude for Sabrina Spellman. With the Dark Lord’s plan unveiled and more emphasis on Sabrina’s witchcraft this time around, the second season doubles down on the magic whilst continuing to deliver an enjoyable slice of teen drama. Although some of the agenda-driven character work detracts a little from the enjoyment, there are some great episodes here which should be enough to look past these flaws.
The story begins with Sabrina starting her new school year. Defying her Aunts, she enlists at the Academy full-time and doubles down on her witch studies. After competing to be Top Boy and ruffling Father Blackwood’s feathers, this season really shows a changing Sabrina; an older, more confident witch exploring her opportunities and pushing boundaries. As she indulges in a relationship with fellow student Nicholas, the Dark Lord presents himself to her and begins to make his presence felt in Sabrina’s life. All of this builds toward a climactic finale involving hell, Satan, Father Blackwood and some shocking revelations about Sabrina that leave the door wide open for the inevitable third season.
Much like the first season, Sabrina’s combination of mischievous magic, dark, gothic tones, and an absorbing over-arching story makes it a really exciting show. It’s worth persevering with too and after a bit of a rocky start, Sabrina really eases into the story late on. As the Dark Lord’s plan comes to light and Sabrina begins exploring her witch-powers more and more, the final 3 or 4 episodes are really dramatic, thankfully overshadowing some of the issues inherent with this season.
The biggest problem, and it’s something that was particularly evident in the first season too, is the agenda-driven character writing. This is pushed so hard this year that it takes away some of the enjoyment from the delightful magic and overarching story. Susie’s exploration of her sexuality is a particular issue, longing to be accepted as a new persona Theo while demanding to be part of the Men’s basketball team.
This isn’t even mentioning misogyny and Sabrina’s crusade for gender equality at the Academy which dominates large parts of the season too. Now, I’m all for equality but the way it’s presented here feels sloppy and haphazard by design which is a real shame as these are important topics to discuss, especially for a teen-drama show.
Stylistically, Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina continues to impress though, weaving together a heady cocktail of neon colors with dark, gothic undertones. The mood dances between dark and broody with lighthearted mischief for much of the season too and just like the first time around, this balance is perfectly poised for most of the run-time.
Although it does feel a little overlong at times and a few episodes could have easily be condensed down, some of the late drama is worth persevering through the first half for. Despite the cliffhanger ending, there are some great twists in the tale while more understanding around the Dark Lord and Sabrina’s true purpose is certainly a welcome inclusion. If you can look past some of the issues haunting this season, Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina continues to offer an enjoyable slice of supernatural fun worth sticking around for.
I give Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s second season a C+.