Witches, Comics, Horror Films & Feminism: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (New Podcast ep)
I’m excited to share with you my latest guest appearance on From the Lighthouse, the podcast of Macquarie University’s Department of English. In this episode, which was incredibly fun to record, I chat with Dr Stephanie Russo about our mutual love for Netflix’s hit TV show, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018-), which follows the life and adventures of a young half-mortal, half-witch as she navigates the borders between magic and mortal worlds. From our shared appreciation of Aunt Zelda’s witticisms to more serious connections with feminist politics and protest in the Trump era, this podcast episode is both fun and wide ranging! I chat about the history of witches and witchcraft, its connections with feminism, the witch as a dual symbol of female empowerment and female persecution, and how Chilling Adventures of Sabrina works within and updates this tradition for the twenty-first century. I also discuss how the show ties in with its comic book origins and its earlier, well-known 90s television adaptation Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996-2000), starring Melissa Joan Hart and her sassiest of sassy black talking cats, Salem. We also look at the teenage context of the show, its relationship to the history of horror cinema as a largely teenage-oriented genre, and how we think the show compares to its most obvious forerunner, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Listen to the episode here, below, or download through your favourite podcast player:
Some elements I would have loved to note had time permitted: While witches, as we discuss in the podcast episode, have emerged as a symbol for the persecuted woman, and often one associated with knowledge and power (especially knowledge of healing and medicine, such as the practice of midwifery, which has a twisted history in relationship to male-dominated medicine much too large to cover here!), I do want to note that not all those who were persecuted as witches were women, and I do also wish to acknowledge that while witchcraft has become a ubiquitous symbol in Western culture (often equal parts entertaining and horrifying), there are also many communities in which people are still being condemned and persecuted under charges of witchcraft. Our discussion of witchcraft in relation to its representation within Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is by no means the whole story of witchcraft, and does not seek to replace or erase other forms and experiences of this phenomena.
What do you think about Chilling Adventures of Sabrina? Let me know in the comments below!