Is 'Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina' Racist? Twitter User Lays Out Problematic Concepts In The Netflix Revival

Classic sitcom Sabrina The Teenage Witch has been translated into something darker in the Netflix era: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The revived show is more drama than comedy and pairs darkness with light in a battle between good and evil. Some, however, said the pairing is racist.

Sabrina’s character, played by, Kiernan Shipka, is blonde and white, while her opposing witch, Prudence, played by Tati Gabrielle, is black, tall and meant to play the villain. Twitter user Taylor Crumpton shared her take on the possibly controversial casting in a Twitter thread on Saturday. The thread spoke of the vilification of the lead black woman and the storyline's ability to make the white lead the one viewers sympathize with.

sabrina "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" is streaming on Netflix and some viewers think the show has a problem with race. Courtesy of Netflix

“Their first interaction contributes to the show's power dynamic between them. Prudence is vilified for hexing Sabrina. The classic trope of white women utilizing their fragility to position Black women as their aggressor, without an awareness of the contributing factors,” Crumpton tweeted.

She claimed the design of this hexing and Dark Magic, which Prudence is known for, plays closely to early concepts of black women dabbling in Dark Magic.

“Through the demonization of Prudence, her character is the embodiment of 'dark magic', an association developed during colonization by white colonizers to dehumanize Black folx for our traditional African spiritual beliefs and practices,” she tweeted. “The 'urban myth' of Black Women and Dark Magic emerged during this time as a justification for the continued sexual assaults of Black Women, due to their lack of humanity, and 'exotic savagery.'”

Crumpton was not the only user to find a problem with the series. Another Twitter user paralleled the concept with a question about character Roz's history. "The writers of [Chilling Adventures of Sabrina] skipped Roz’s history but included everyone else’s? Is it bc they were too cowardly to address that Roz’s ancestors were slaves? Also black witches suffered in bondage and it is problematic for Sabrina to call a black witch, Prudence, racist (and lynch her!)" the user stated.

Crumpton used a major plot spoiler to make her case. A witch ritual called “The Harrowing” is especially problematic in the explanation because of a hanging scene. In the scene, Sabrina, who has a noose around her neck, is able to devise a plan to instead, hang Prudence.

Some users disagreed with the racist concept, claiming the show falls more on the side of feminism and highlights a woman versus woman power struggle. "So this is the scene everyone was saying was racist? Everyone has a right to their opinion but I really don't think it's a fair comparison. It's about witch trials, women against women and revenge," a user shared. 

Some Twitter users who responded to Crumpton’s thread agreed with her points. “I also am tired of seeing the stereotype that black women are always bullies or mean,” one said. “I found Prudence’s character interesting because she is such a complex character but she was reduced to a stereotype and a vehicle for the white main character to use at her disposal.”

Another pointed at a blatant use of the word racism in the film. “I got suspicious when I heard Sabrina calling herself a victim of 'racism' after she got hexed by a Black witch,” they tweeted. "I'll watch something else."

Other viewers saw a problem with consent in the series. The show seems to aim for a conversation on female power and male attention, as reported by Wired on Friday, but some think the relations between men and women in the film speaks to the state of America's problem with consent and respect. 

One user claimed they couldn't watch the show because of an issue with the topic. "I was expecting good things from [Chilling Adventures of Sabrina], but it’s hard to get passed their major, consistent, problem with male consent," the viewer shared. 

The user continued with specific examples. "Jocks into getting naked, and making out with each other, without consent, and then blackmailing them with the pictures, and then stealing their genitalia, to Aunt Hilda drugging a man into sleeping with her nephew, and outing a victim of SA and a gay character."

Despite the backlash from select users, Season 2 of the series is already in the works. The cast has been filming the second season back to back with the first, according to Cosmopolitan. The second season is expected to have 10 episodes, as the Netflix order was for 20 in total, according to Deadline. Viewers who intend to watch Season 2 can expect it to begin where the first season left off.

Netflix did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment on backlash the show has received. 

This story has been updated to include more tweets that accuse "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" of potential racism.

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