It's pretty hard to ignore the fact that Netflix has been consistently increasing the amount of original programming available, from television shows to movies, and many of the shows have become absolute sensations. Sure, some are misses — but when you have a couple runaway hits, that's reason enough to keep creating original programming for subscribers. And, some of that programming taps into our sense of nostalgia by rebooting old staples like Full House and The Magic School Bus.
Anyone who was a certain age in the late '90s and early '00s will know all about Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The sitcom starring high school student turned college student Sabrina Spellman, her two aunts, and her diverse collection of friends was an absolute hit. We're not even sure what it is about the show that everyone loved, but it was definitely must see television. The effects may not seem quite as magical as some of the stuff technology can create today, and the outfits are definitely a little retro when you look back at them, but there's just something so comforting about the show.
So, when Netflix was considering what shows to reboot, Sabrina came to mind — and we couldn't be more excited, especially since Kiernan Shipka is rumored to be playing Sabrina. Before you prep for the reboot, here are some things you need to know about the original Sabrina.
15 The Show Was Insanely Highly Rated During Its Time On The Air
You used to watch Sabrina every week, all your friends did, but you probably have no idea just how popular the sitcom was. It turns out that it was the most highly rated show in the legendary TGIF line-up on ABC. In fact, at one point it had a whopping 12 million viewers turning on their television screens to see what Sabrina was up to, every single week — that's insane! Netflix has entirely different ways to calculate viewership and different priorities than a more standard network would have, but we have a feeling that those numbers back in the day definitely had an impact on their decision to reboot it — even if a fraction of those fans are now Netflix users, that's a huge audience to potentially tap into.
14 There Were Three 'Types' Of Salem — And Many, Many Versions
Ah, Salem — the sassy warlock turned household pet definitely played a huge role in the show, even though his contribution was often just witty zingers sprinkled throughout the episode. If you've ever wondered how exactly they made his character happen, wonder no more. So, it turns out that there were three 'versions' of Salem — a stuffed cat, an animatronic cat, and an actual live cat. They used different versions depending on what they needed out of the scene. And, throughout the show's run, there were multiple stuffed puppet versions, multiple animatronic versions, and three live cats — that's a whole lot of felines! The only thing that remained consistent throughout was his voice, which was courtesy of Nick Bakay. Who would have thought that the cat would be one of the most complicated cast members?
13 Caroline Rhea, Who Played Aunt Hilda, Hated The Costumes — Including Sabrina's
When we take a look back at some of the wardrobe choices made on the show, sure, they seem a little strange — but it was a different time! There are plenty of shows where the characters were rocking the latest fashions at the time, but look totally retro when you rewatch them a decade later. However, it seems that Caroline Rhea hated the costumes even when they were filming the show. Apparently, she felt that Hilda always was a bit too overdressed, her hair a bit too stiff and formal for just hanging around the house. And, she likewise hated Sabrina's wardrobe because she thought that she wasn't dressing like a regular teen would — in fact, she even compared Sabrina's wardrobe to what an account would wear. Ouch! That's not exactly the look a teenage girl is going for.
12 Melissa Joan Hart Was 20 When The Show Started — Making Kiernan Shipka's Age Seem Way More Reasonable
It's no secret that there are many, many actresses out there who end up playing characters much younger than they are in real life. Sure, there may be a handful of teenage actresses who are playing teenage characters — but for the most part, it's young starlets in their 20s who can just pass as high school students who have snagged the roles. Melissa Joan Hart was no different. When she got the role of Sabrina, she was already 20 years old, which means she was always consistently older than her character — towards the end of the series, when Sabrina was graduating college, Melissa was almost 30 years old in real life! In comparison, the fact that Kiernan Shipka is still a teenager definitely works in her favor, especially if the show is popular and she ends up involved for multiple seasons.
11 Melissa Joan Hart Hated Cats In Real Life (Sorry, Salem!)
For some people, the idea of working with a cat every day seems like total heaven — you get to spend time with your favorite animal, at work, what could be better? However, Melissa Joan Hart is definitely not one of those people. Apparently, she isn't the biggest fan of cats to begin with, and on the show, her attitude soured even more. There were several versions of Salem, which meant that it was frequently cat chaos on set. And, they always had Salem's food dishes and litter boxes out, which made for a set with less than pleasant odors. It's not something we ever would have thought of, but it's no wonder that more shows don't prominently feature animals — that definitely makes for some unpleasant set condition! We can't even imagine.
10 Sarah Michelle Gellar Almost Got The Role Of Sabrina
Perhaps it's because she played Sabrina for so many years, but honestly, we just can't envision anyone in the role besides Melissa Joan Hart. It'll be interesting to see Kiernan Shipka's version of the iconic character because outside of the cartoon world, she's so tied to MJH in our minds. However, Melissa Joan Hart wasn't the only one considered for the role, obviously. Plenty of starlets were likely interested in a leading gig on a television show, and a young Sarah Michelle Gellar was one of the actresses in the running. Thankfully, she ended up snagging the role of Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer soon after, and we absolutely love her in that role. Two blondes, supernatural television queens — what's not to love? Maybe in the darker reboot, Buffy will make a guest appearance to help Sabrina slay some demons.
9 Melissa Joan Hart Wasn't That Innocent During Her Years On The Show
It's no secret that the original Sabrina was a pretty wholesome sitcom. Sure, there were some kisses and some slightly spicier storylines, but in general, it was definitely family friendly viewing. So, we just always kind of assumed that things were squeaky clean behind the scenes — but it turns out, that wasn't the case. Melissa Joan Hart totally spilled the beans in her memoir Melissa Explains It All: Tales from My Abnormally Normal Life, and it's juicy. Apparently, the young star was partying all the time, with actresses like Tara Reid, taking Britney Spears to the club, and even experimenting with hallucinogenics with her fellow cast mates on the show. Who knew that's what was going on between takes? Crazy! Although, it was a time before social media and the paparazzi were everywhere, so many starlets could do things a little more undetected.
8 Sabrina Debuted in 1962, In Archie's Madhouse #22
Most people who are fans of Sabrina and the show know that it started out with a character in the Archie Comics universe — but we bet you didn't know just how early Sabrina made her debut. Her first ever appearance was in a comic from way back in 1962 entitled Archie's Madhouse #22. Fans were introduced to this new blonde teen in town who looked like yet another Riverdale resident but was a little more spooky thanks to her supernatural powers. Fans loved the character and she ended up getting a lot more coverage in the comics, which is how Paula Hart got her hands on a copy and was inspired to pitch the show. It just goes to show that sometimes, even what you may think is a secondary character often ends up being the most interesting character of all to work with!
7 The Netflix Reboot Is Based On A Darker Comic Book Version Of Sabrina
If you're eagerly awaiting the Netflix reboot because you think it'll just be a slightly updated version of the classic sitcom, you'll have to hold your breath for a long time — the reboot is apparently taking a much darker twist on the show. However, that angle isn't just coming out of the blue, from the mind of someone at Netflix. Sabrina has already taken a darker twist in the comic book universe in the new series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The writer of the series, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, described it by saying "one day, Sabrina's going to be the most powerful sorceress who's ever lived — Archie's equivalent of Doctor Strange — but right now, she's a 16-year-old girl who's figuring out who she wants to be." We can't wait to see the Netflix interpretation and how they meld that darker world with regular teenage life.
6 There's Some Dark Hidden Meaning Behind Sabrina's Address
The house that Sabrina and her two aunts lived in was almost as much of a character on the show as they were. From the old-school Victorian style to the turret to the linen closet that was a portal to another world, the house itself was totally witchy. And, it seems the show creators wanted to play that up a little. First of all, the address is 113 Collins Road, which is a bit of a nod to the '60s series Dark Shadows, which featured a witch and her family — pretty cute. Then, the zip code — the house is located in the town of Westbridge, Massachusetts, but the 01970 zip code is actually the real-life zip code for the town of Salem. Spooky! We wonder if they'll keep the address the same in the reboot.
5 Martin Mull, a.k.a. Mr. Kraft, Only Took The Role To Please His Daughter
We totally understand when starlets on the rise take on whatever role that comes their way because, well, they're trying to make it in the industry and any role is a good place to start. However, we're sometimes a bit curious about what motivates adult actors to take on roles in teen shows, knowing that they'll likely be a secondary character. In Martin Mull's case, it seems that the motivation is actually his daughter herself. Apparently, when the show started, Mull's daughter was right around 10 or 11 years old, and a huge Sabrina fan. So, he figured he'd win the most popular dad of the year award by starring on the show — so he became the legendary Mr. Kraft, who had his annoying moments but also had a lot of fans.
4 Melissa Joan Hart's Mom, Paula, Was The One Who Turned The Comic Into A Show Originally
If you've ever thought about who came up with the idea to translate the comic books featuring the witchy teen into a television show, chances are you assumed it was someone at one of the studios, right? However, it was actually Melissa Joan Hart's own mother who decided Sabrina would be just the thing that audiences needed. As Melissa herself said to Marie Claire, "she [her mother] is the one who was handed the Archie Comic book on a playground at my sister's school in Manhattan and sold it to Viacom as a Showtime movie. She always knew it would make an incredible series but no one would listen until she cut together a trailer from the movie and pitched it to all four major networks at the time." A bidding war erupted, Melissa Joan Hart was cast as the title character, and the rest is history. Thanks, Paula!
3 There Was Already A Spin-Off Attempt That Failed
Given that the show was so popular, why on earth haven't they already tried a spin-off show, you're wondering? Well, they have — and it didn't quite work because there just wasn't enough overlap with the original. The network decided that Sabrina's younger cousin Amanda should get her own show, where she goes to a boarding school type institution filled with witches and warlocks. Given that it sounds like Harry Potter, you'd think it would be a slam dunk — but no one was that interested. There was a short-lived animated series for a while, in which Melissa voices the aunts and her younger sister Emily voiced Sabrina, but it wasn't nearly as successful as the original show. Perhaps the Netflix reboot will do a better job of rethinking the original show in a way that works.
2 There Was A Turkish Remake Of The Show, Acemi Cadi a.k.a. 'Novice Witch'
Unless you're a fan of Turkish television, chances are you would never stumble across this show, so we'll just bring it to your attention. Apparently, before Netflix decided to reboot the show, Turkey figured their inhabitants would be all about the witchy characters, and created a show entitled Acemi Cadi, which translates to 'Novice Witch' — so, Sabrina. The young 'novice witch' character has two aunts and a cat, so it's not as if they're just accidentally similar shows — it was definitely inspired by the original show. We're not sure quite how popular it was in Turkey — the IMDB ratings aren't exactly stellar — but it's pretty crazy nonetheless that a remake would happen in an entirely different country. The show truly was more popular than many of us remembered!
1 Elvira Felt She Had Been Ripped Off — And Probably Won't Like The New, Darker Reboot
You may know Elvira as that woman with the dark hair and gothic look, but did you know she actually had a television pilot back in the '90s? In 1995, she had a pilot for her show entitled, simply, The Elvira Show. It didn't quite work out, and audiences didn't pick up on it, and about a year later the pilot for Sabrina came out. And let's just say Elvira was not happy — in her own words, "the talking black cat, the two old aunts, the teenage girl... they released it the following year. It just focused on the teenage lead instead of me, because in my show, I was the aunt of a teenage girl." Elvira saw a lot of similarities between the shows, which is a fair observation, but given that the entire thing was based on the comics, and black cats are a pretty known figure, and all television shows need other characters, including family... we're not quite sure if we'd go so far as to say there was plagiarism involved.
Sources: mentalfloss.com, zimbio.com