While the ongoing Archie Horror series offers readers a refreshing shift from Sabrina's campy origins, a live-action dark and gritty reboot seems somewhat predictable in today's pop cultural landscape -- maybe even boringly so. For instance, when you read the phrase "dark and gritty" a moment ago, did you find yourself thinking, "Oh, that's new!" or "Oh, another one?"
Though it's a potential risk, something that incorporates all of Sabrina's history -- even the goofiness of her '90s TV exploits -- could be what this reboot needs to set it apart from the recent and/or ongoing spate of dark fantasy shows -- your Supernaturals, Grimms, True Bloods, Wynonna Earps, Penny Dreadfuls, The Originals, American Horror Storys... the list goes on.
There's a wealth of material that has been released in recent years -- and will likely continue to come out -- that will hammer home what we already know about witches: that they're generally bad news. A hot take on witchcraft these days would be that it's not something that corrupts young women into committing acts of selfishness and evil. This is also something inherent to Sabrina's history, too. Sabrina Spellman is a young witch whose goodness is in stark opposition to the badness of the rest of her kind, including her aunts, Zelda and Hilda. The moral crossroads her character is poised at is a big part of her appeal in the comics.
For most, however, our view of her world is more informed by the cheesy sitcom adaptation than anything else, which audiences of a certain age will also have deep-seated nostalgia for. This version harkened back to the popular supernatural sitcoms of the era Sabrina was invented in, like Bewitched and I Dream Of Jeannie. Little known about that era is the influence it had on developing the sparkly-eyed, "magical girls" of shojo anime. These young Japanese spellcasters swapped green skin and black hair for pastel shades and frilly dresses, and used their magic for heroism. While magical girls are as popular as ever in anime, their American live-action equivalents have all but disappeared. This leaves us in a strange world in which the high-tempo, brightly-colored exploits of the Sailor Moon girls seem far more subversive than the idea of yet another washed-out, sinister take on female occultism.
As well as the spirit of magical girls and the '90s sitcom, Netflix could also draw inspiration from NBC's popular fantasy-comedy series The Good Place, which sugarcoats its dark subject matter to expertly subvert our expectations. This is a model that could really make Sabrina something truly, well, magical. After all, do we really want to see a rehashing of American Horror Story: Coven, or, would we rather see, say, The Exorcist by way of Kiki's Delivery Service?