With CW’s Riverdale taking off, the show’s creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is growing the Archie comics TV drama into a freaky franchise. So brace yourselves for a dark spin on Sabrina The Teenage Witch, because it’s going to get wild.
With anticipation mounting, here’s everything you need to know about Riverdale’s Sabrina spinoff, currently called Untitled Sabrina Project.
Forget sugary sweet Sabrina
This isn’t Melissa Joan Hart’s teen witch. Instead, the series seems to be pulling inspiration from the dark heart of Aguirre-Sacasa’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comics, which feature torture, murder, and a villainess named Madam Satan.
Its inspirations are less cute comics and more pure horror
Here’s the official logline: “Untitled Sabrina Project imagines the origin and adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch as a dark coming-of-age story that traffics in horror, the occult and, of course, witchcraft. Tonally in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, this adaptation finds Sabrina wrestling to reconcile her dual nature — half-witch, half-mortal — while standing against the evil forces that threaten her, her family and the daylight world humans inhabit.”
It’s going straight to Netflix
Forget the torment of waiting week to week for new installments of Archie comic-based thrills. Thanks to Riverdale’s popularity on the streaming service, Netflix snatched up the Untitled Sabrina Project and will exclusively roll out all 20 episodes. Each will be roughly an hour long, like Riverdale. But you can assume that Aguirre-Sacasa and his team (producers Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Jon Goldwater, and director Lee Toland Krieger) will have greater creative freedom, considering they don’t need to fret about offending advertisers with sex or violence.
Kiernan Shipka will front the series as Sabrina Spellman
The Mad Men star was cast in January of 2018, spurring executive producer and Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater to declare, “I am thrilled that Kiernan is playing Sabrina and have no doubt that she will embody the strength, courage and boldness that has made the character a fan favorite.”
Doctor Who’s Hottest Foe Will Play Madam Satan
Best known for playing the wicked yet beloved Missy, Michelle Gomez is no stranger to bringing sass and sex appeal to villainous roles. Variety revealed this Scottish diva has been tapped to play Sabrina’s favorite teacher, Mary Wardell. But things turn twisted when this lovely mentor is possessed by the Devil’s handmaiden, Madam Satan, who turns Ms. Wardell “into a sultry, cunning manipulator, always trying to lure Sabrina down the Path of Night.”
Ambrose Spellman has been race-bent.
When making Riverdale, Aguirre-Sacasa strove to improve the representation of the Town with Pep by casting actors of color in previously white roles, like Veronica Lodge, Josie McCoy, Dilton Doiley, and Reggie Mantle. As far as LGBTQA+ representation, he included canonically queer characters like Kevin Keller and Toni Topaz, plus began playing with sexual fluidity in an arc with Cheryl Blossom. These efforts are seen in the Sabrina spinoff too, as Ambrose was typically white, even in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. But actor-of-color Chance Perdomo has been cast to play the teen witch’s trouble-making English cousin. Having previously appeared in British TV shows like Midsomer Murders and Hetty Feather, Perdomo will make his American TV debut on the Untitled Sabrina Project. And it seems like Ambrose will be meaty role.
Per Variety: “Placed under house-arrest by the Witches Council, Ambrose is forbidden from leaving the funeral home where he lives with the Spellman women. Witty, puckish and pan-sexual, he is one of Sabrina’s partners in crime, always up for mischief.”
Sabrina has a cool human bestie.
The Hollywood Reporter revealed The Vampire Diaries’ Jaz Sinclair has snagged a series regular role as Sabrina’s human bestie, Rosalind Walker, who is described as “the brash, empowered and outspoken daughter of Greendale’s minister.”
Some leaked casting breakdowns offer further insight into this barely known Archie Comics figure. But be warned, spoilers ahead:
[ROSALIND]Female, legal 18 or 18+ to play 16, African American. Rosalind is Sabrina’s human best friend. Brash, empowered, and outspoken like her Black Panther parents, Rosalind is keeping a secret from Sabrina and the rest of her classmates—that she is not-so-slowly losing her eyesight, a fact that will put her immortal soul in jeopardy…
Sisters Hilda and Zelda Spellman are serious, devil-worshipping witches
Forget Caroline Rhea’s dimples and Beth Broderick’s sweet frowns. Wonder Woman’s Lucy Davis has been chosen to play Hilda, who is typically the more chipper of the sisters. But Deadline notes, “More nurturing than Zelda, Hilda’s motherly nature and warm sense of humor belie a wicked, ghoulish streak. She is as adept at brewing spite jars against her family’s enemies as she is at concocting love potions for the students at Baxter High.”
Bonus news: Rhea approves.
And Untitled Sabrina Project has rounded up a serious dramatic actress to play disciplinarian Zelda, in Miranda Otto (Lord of the Rings, 24: Legacy, Homeland). And the character description from TV Line makes it easy to see why: “Proud and devout, Zelda believes there is no greater honor than serving the Dark Lord as a member of the Church of Night. She is the family’s disciplinarian, fiercely protective of Sabrina and very much Cain to Hilda’s Abel.”
This post will be updated as required.