×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ Stars Talk Family as ‘Heart’ of Show Steeped in Feminism

From the classic comics, to the ’90s comedy, to the more recent chilling adventures in a demon-ridden world, Sabrina Spellman has always relied on her roots to guide her through the angsty years of being a teenaged witch. This means that when Netflix’s take on the famous Archie character drops on Oct. 26, her aunties Hilda (Lucy Davis) and Zelda (Miranda Otto) — along with her cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) — are an integral part of the (broomstick) ride.

“The heart of the show is those kitchen scenes, where Ambrose is making some kind of witty comment and Zelda is freaking out, and Sabrina is just trying to make sense of everything, and Zelda is rolling her eyes,” Sabrina portrayer Kiernan Shipka says. “That dynamic is what we go back to time and time again and in so many ways it really is the heartbeat of the show.”

However, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” branches out from family drama to tackle feminist themes, love-letters to horror greats like “The Exorcist” and “Rosemary’s Baby” and external conflicts with other witches and the one who controls them all, the Dark Lord.

In the pilot alone, Sabrina, a half-witch, half-mortal whose parents are long dead, grapples with her upcoming 16th birthday and the subsequent pact she’ll sign renouncing her mortal life and everything that comes with it. It’s a tall order for a well-adjusted teen in love, especially given some of the shadier, male-controlled aspects of the overall deal. Yet it’s a deal her centuries-old, guardian-aunts insist on her making, despite their own feminist ideals.

“Within the Church of Night the generations certainly add different aspects to the story,” Otto says. “Zelda and Hilda have lived for a long time and have different approaches on how to deal with the institutions they’re in and the contradictions of the church, whereas Sabrina is coming into this for the first time and won’t stand [for certain things].”

That inward versus outward brand of feminism is a driving theme that carries over early on in the series. Otto sees Zelda as working to “invoke change from within,” while Davis likens Hilda to someone who “grew up in a religious household but hasn’t necessarily questioned it.” Yet it’s those collective experiences that are helping them raise a teenage girl who has found her own voice, as Sabrina confronts sexism at her mortal high school and resists signing away her free will to the Dark Lord.

“Sabrina is a bada– and she was raised to believe that,” Shipka says. “But as much as she was brought up by her aunts, she has very strong beliefs that are developing and are different from theirs. It’s interesting to see all of these women with very different relationships to their covens, their worlds, themselves. It’s super multi-dimensional in that way.”

It’s those varying world views and approaches that propel the drama as the episodes unfold, but it’s also what makes the family coven stronger as external forces descend. In order for the Spellmans to overcome a long list of mortal and supernatural enemies and to forge their own path ahead, it’s the coming together of multiple generations that dictates success.

“In a lot of ways Sabrina’s mission is to change the system, but that patriarchy is something that is so ingrained in beliefs and upbringing that it’s not met with much resistance,” Shipka says. “Everything seems to be working to a certain extent which is why the coven has operated as it has over the years, but in a lot of ways we portray a deeper frustration with that. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows and it cannot run smoothly like that forever. How these women deal with it and tackle it in different ways develops and unfolds and I’m really happy with where the story goes.”

More TV

  • ABC Orders Comedy Pilot From Sherry

    ABC Orders Western Comedy Pilot From Sherry Bilsing-Graham, Ellen Kreamer

    ABC has handed out their first comedy pilot order of the 2020-2021 season. ABC has ordered the single-cam project “Prospect.” It is described as a comedic western about an idealistic young woman who moves to the frontier to be a schoolteacher. Her ideals are quickly tested when she learns that her students are rowdy ranch [...]

  • Laura Dern arrives for the 26th

    Laura Dern to Play Bartender in Quibi Series 'Just One Drink'

    Laura Dern saw Baby Yoda at a basketball game, and soon she’ll be able to tell her patrons all about it. The actor, who won a SAG Award on Sunday for her performance in “Marriage Story,” is the latest creative name to head on over to Quibi for a series in which she will portray [...]

  • TV Ratings: 'The Bachelor' Ticks Up

    TV Ratings: 'The Bachelor' Ticks Up 20%, ABC Wins Monday Rose

    “The Bachelor” saw a solid uptick week-to-week in the TV ratings, leading ABC to victory on a competitive Monday night. The dating show scored a 1.9 rating among adults 18-49, roughly a 20% increase on last week’s episode, and 6.2 million total viewers, up almost 1 million viewers from last week. “The Good Doctor” benefited [...]

  • The Simpsons - Disney parodies -

    Disney Mashes Up 'The Simpsons' Parodies of Disney Films, Theme Parks

    Disney has embraced some of the gentle ribbing dished out by “The Simpsons” over the years — hoping to convince more people to sign up for Disney Plus. The media conglomerate released a compilation of what it calls “the best Disney references in ‘The Simpsons,'” which is now part of the Disney empire, with past [...]

  • Xtremo

    Netflix Unveils ‘Xtremo,’ a Full-On Spanish Action Movie with Teo García, Óscar Jaenada (EXCLUSIVE)

    MIAMI — Breaking barriers, Netflix is preparing to unleash “Xtremo,” billed as one of Spain’s first full-on action thriller movies, starring Oscar Jaenada (“Luis Miguel,” “Hernán”) and action specialist Teo García. A Netflix Original Film directed by Daniel Benmayor, “Xtremo” also marks the first production of Showrunner Films, the new production company set up by [...]

  • Amy Doyle Viacom

    Amy Doyle to Depart as General Manager of MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo

    Amy Doyle is exiting her post as general manager of MTV, VH1 and other ViacomCBS cable networks. Doyle had been with Viacom since 1999 and had become a key lieutenant of Chris McCarthy, head of ViacomCBS’ Entertainment and Youth unit that houses MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Paramount Network and other cable brands and production units. [...]

  • Oprah Russell Simmons Documentary

    Oprah Defends Decision to Exit #MeToo Doc: 'This Is Not a Victory for Russell' Simmons

    Oprah Winfrey explained her decision to step away from “On the Record,” an expose about sexual harassment in the music industry, including women who have accused mogul Russell Simmons of misconduct. The documentary, from filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, will premiere at Sundance on Jan. 25. Winfrey, who served as an executive producer and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content