The nights are getting darker, there's more than a little chill in the air, and Netflix have unleashed the first ten episodes of their much hyped new series (just in time for Halloween no less) with a further Christmas special on the way. What have we done to deserve this?!
I've been excited ever since this show was first announced. I was a huge fan of the 90s "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" series (it's glorious) and I am a huge fan of Riverdale. Plus, you know, the series released on my birthday, so it's an all round win.
With all those expectations I settled in with the first episode and felt... curious, but not entirely enthralled. This could be in part due to the truly terrifying spider sequence that should come with a trigger warning, and basically involved me hiding behind a cushion and waiting to be told when it was safe again.
I left it for a week, mulled over my feelings for it, and then started in on the second episode, at which point I was hooked.
This is not a remake of the 90s-laugh-track-sassy-Salem-one-liners Sabrina. This is dark and twisted, and at times absolutely horrifying. Yet for all that I adored it. I'm not a fan of horror by any stretch, yet this somehow works brilliantly.
A lot of that is in how overblown and melodramatic it is. One particularly squicky episode (episode 5, complete nightmare fuel) left me struggling to sleep. Yet once I explained the plot to my husband, within moments we both found ourselves laughing at how insanely ridiculous it was. The writers had captured the twisty horrifying elements of nightmares, wrapped them up in the insanity that comes with it, and delivered a genuinely diverting hour of television.
The writing is brilliant, the cinematography curiously bizarre, and the cast, oh the cast. These characters are so good. I want to spend more time with them. I just want a normal day in the life of the Spellman household, never mind all the dark fun things that go off in the series. They start off as fairly average stereotypes, and gradually over the course of the series are unpacked into layered, nuanced and thoughtful people. Everytime I thought I had my feelings sorted for them, they'd go and upend my feelings again and make me fall in love with new facets of their characters.
Plus, diversity in television! Not only is Ambrose openly gay and has a super cute date, but we also have some truly amazing mortal friends surrounding Sabrina. Roz - fighting for banned books, suffering from degenerating eyesight. And Susie, a non-binary character who suffers hideous bullying and abuse but keeps on fighting and discovering themselves, played by a non-binary actor. I had several moments of fist punchy happiness watching this series for those characters alone.
Once I was hooked, I couldn't help but binge the rest of the series. It wasn't what I expected, but it ended up becoming so much more, and ultimately being a really important series to me for the representation, the storylines, and these wonderful characters.
I can't wait to see where they go next.