Chilling Adventures of Sabrina may have begun its life on TV as a companion show to Riverdale, but the upcoming Netflix series is really anything but. Interestingly, series creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told Variety that Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is "more innocent" than Riverdale now. That said, his definition of "innocent" might be different from that of the fans of his shows.
"In some ways, Sabrina the show is more innocent than Riverdale," Aguirre-Sacasa told Variety, comparing his two talked about shows. "And the center of [the new] show is more on the Spellman family and less on the high school kids. I think that took a little bit of getting used to."
Plus, Aguirre-Sacasa added, "Riverdale is pretty gonzo storytelling" most of the time, noting, "It moves [so quickly], it’s like an out of control train". In contrast, "Sabrina is a little bit slower paced and a little more methodical and thoughtful". But still, calling the show "innocent" seems like a bit of a stretch. Sure, Riverdale is sexy and murder-y, but doesn't Chilling Adventures of Sabrina have some adult-themed content of its own? Yes! Per Aguirre-Sacasa, though, the difference is pretty simple: Sabrina is the star character, and she isn't the one having sex yet.
"In terms of the sexuality and stuff, the Riverdale kids are always having sex, everywhere", the series creator joked, before continuing:
"When I say it’s more innocent on Sabrina, [she’s] really a 16-year-old girl who has not had sex and Harvey is a boy, 16, who hasn’t had sex. I think that is a core innocence that is difference from Riverdale where the kids are acting a lot more like grownups."
Part of that difference might be thanks to the real actors' ages. Though the Riverdale main cast are mostly in their early 20s, the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina crew are closer in age to their fictional counterparts. This invoked a paternal instinct in their creator:
"The other big difference is Kiernan [Shipka] is an 18-year-old playing a 16-year-old [which] is a big difference than a 27-year-old playing a 16-year-old or a 28-year-old playing a 16-year-old. She feels younger. And you kind of feel protective of the actors and you don’t want to put them through horrible things!"
That's what makes this statement all the more interesting, since — no spoilers — Sabrina and the gang are subjected to some horrible things. After all, the Spellmans belong to a patriarchal devil-worshiping coven. The show includes murder, demon possession, body horror, and probably more gore than fans were expecting. It's influenced by Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist. "Innocent" is certainly not the first adjective that comes to mind. It might not even be in the top 10.
Still, much of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is driven by the supernatural, and the violence of Riverdale is usually grounded in realism. Riverdale's violence can be intimate and upsetting in ways that Sabrina's often isn't as a result; viewers almost expect it from a show about witchcraft. Maybe that's why Aguirre-Sacasa felt inclined to call the show more "innocent," as it's not the mortal characters who are the big bad. Or maybe he's just trying to lure fans into thinking Sabrina won't make them spooked by things that go bump in the night when it premieres later in the month.