So, the New Sabrina Show… [lots of spoilers]

…is really weird.

I ended up watching it out of morbid curious with my girlfriend, who is a big MJH Sabrina fan.

I’m not sure what to make of it.

  • Witchcraft is literally Satanism
  • Virtually all the characters are evil [witches, natch]
  • The Devout strong-and-independent-womyn Satanist aunt is extra evil
  • “being a sodomite” makes you more susceptible to demonic possession
  • Catholic Baptism protects against Satan
  • CW/ABC Family edgy

If I didn’t know better, I’d almost say it was a deconstruction of edgy-hip Hollywood-progressive teen drama genre.

Whole first season was a shoot the shaggy-dog story to get Sabrina to sell her soul to the devil.

Being a witch is sold as being a free, free-thinking, strong and independent woman… With the catch that you have to submit yourself body and soul to Satan [a dude]. So, there is running theme of conflict of “muh feminism” with “actually, Satanism is inherently patriarchal”.

Sabrina doesn’t want to give up her life and soul to Satan cuz it sounds like a bad deal [cuz, uh…], but ends up through legal chicanery allowed [actually, forced, rather] to lead a split life where she MUST attend Black Masses and the Satanic school of magic even though she does not have to sign away her soul [which Satan has no claim over due to her baptism].

Sabrina gets the brilliant [dumb] idea that she can use the Satanic arts she learns to bind and defeat Satan. Which plays out about as well as you’d expect; like, the show knows it’s a dumb and stupid idea and Sabrina goes with because she’s a dumb teenager who doesn’t have the theological background that would give her an inkling of how bad an idea her plan is.

It finally ends with Sabrina stuck in a situation so bad where she thinks that the only way to save her friends is by finally selling her soul Satan. The whole scheme that brings her to that point? Cooked up by none other than the Ur demoness saint of feminism herself, Lilith. ::eyeroll::

But all of the characters who talk about the “false Christian god”, promote Satan worship as a good idea, and spout Crowley at each other? They’re the show’s villains. The one sympathetic supporting witch character? The one who helped get Sabrina baptized as an infant…

I won’t say that it’s great; it was a trainwreck bizarre enough that I watched it unfold, and at least it only had one ep that really felt like filler.  It mostly coasts on the shock value of mild gore and ongoing depiction of Satan worship in an old Archie Comic property. It was better than the ep I saw of Riverdale, and at least the whole “well, all of these characters are horrible people” is somewhat justified in that they’re all literal Satan worshipers.

The series ends with the setup of the Faustian dilemma [despite everything, Satan has no legitimate claim on Sabrina’s life or soul–he has only convinced her he has] with Sabrina’s now-ex-boyfriend, the last in a line of witch-hunters, left as the only decent person who can possibly take a stand against an army of Satan-worshipers who pose an existential threat to their town.

And no, Salem doesn’t talk. Sorry.

Update:

Dominika Lein pointed this out to me, so I’m gonna go with the woke horseshoe theory here–it’s so woke that it looks like anti-woke propaganda.

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Off the Cuff Disenchantment Thoughts

PC Bushi’s recent post on Disenchantment provoked a brief discussion between us, wherein I agree almost entirely with his takes on its failings, but I still enjoyed it in spite of them.

Disenchantment had a good story that was marred by bad writers. Ironically, the most interesting and sympathetic characters were the ones we got to see the least of [the second wife, Oona, and her half-amphibian son]. They couldn’t figure out what to do with the mains, so we end up with Elf Fry and demon-cat Bender hanging out around a character who is intentionally unlikable. Those characters can work really well, but they have to be juxtaposed against solid, good, likable characters or at least surrounded by a tone that makes them sympathetic. Disenchantment doesn’t really acquire this tone until the final episodes, at which point many viewers have already given up on the show.

For me, the best part was the relationship between the king and his second wife and political entanglement it was borne out of and led to questions about what really happened to the first wife. (spoilers) I was happy that Oona WASN’T the secret villain in the season-one twist and the imprisonment of the innocent if slightly degenerate half-amphibian son of Oona and the king when succession became called into question with the return of Queen Dagmar was a genuinely moving moment.

A big problem that it had was that it had a good story but was not good at developing characters. So, even though it was a really short series, the early/middle episodes that tried to develop the characters but didn’t advance the story were the worst.

They waited too long, I think, to make clear that the king was a more nuanced and complex character than he presents himself as throughout much of the show. People are right that it gets good at the end, but you need to, uh… make the rest of the show good, too.

The second half is better than the first half, picking up with episode 6. Episode 7 lampshades how awful all of the characters are when the one-eyed giantess literally comes out and says that every one of the mains are horrible people.

It was better than whenever Futurama tried to tackle D&D, but it struck me as going for [from what little I know about it and what little I’ve read] a Cerebus vibe–snarky, mean fantasy comedy that leaves a door open to go “dark” and “serious” when it wants to. It didn’t do a great job, but it was just good enough that I wish it was better.

Mystery of the Sphinx

I watched a crazy documentary on Netflix last night.  I’m a huge fan of old documentaries, especially ones on Ancient Egypt, from before everything was CG montages or looked like stuff out of 300.

This particular gem was narrated by none-other than Charlton Heston, the greatest actor, if not the greatest man, that the 20th century had to offer.

The crux of the theory presented in the documentary was that the Sphinx was weathered in ways that other Egyptian ruins were not weathered, showing signs of vertical erosion caused by rainfall, which would nearly double the age of the Sphinx from the oldest estimates accepted by Egyptologists.

The first 2/3s of it were pretty great.  The geologist, Robert M. Schoch (the most credible seeming dude we got to meet) made an excellent scientific case for an antediluvian civilization in Ancient Egypt predating the old kingdom by a few thousand years.  The facial recognition specialist (second most credible dude) made an excellent case that the face of the Sphinx was definitely not the same as the king that most Egyptologists claimed it was.  The primemover of the theory (J.A. West, somewhat less credible seeming) who convinced the geologist to look into it also made a decent case for the antediluvian civilization, except he throws in stuff about Atlantis and that maybe said civilization predated the Old Kingdom by over 10,000 years.  Then the documentary goes off the deep end.  Some crazy guy who did not appear in the first hour of the documentary shows up at a crazy convention who is all “Clearly the face on Mars is a Lion-Man.  Just like the sphinx!  THERE IS A MARS EGYPT LINK!!!!”

At the end, they close with the Geologist, who is all “Look, I’m not saying anything about martians, aliens, or magic.  I’m saying that I have factual scientific evidence suggesting that the Sphinx is older than historians think.”  But it’s there, and his awesome science is tainted by the old “Well, if it’s not what they think it is, it’s as likely UFOs as anything else!” line of thinking.

It would’ve been a great documentary if they didn’t throw in Mars and UFO dudes in the middle, but since it was made by “UFOTV” or whatever, I guess they had to stick that in there somewhere.  “Here are some interesting scientific theories rooted in facts and science; now let’s crap all over them by claiming that it somehow backs up our UFO crazy, even though the guy who made the discovery disavows that.”