What year is 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' set in? An investigation

30 October 2018, 09:27 | Updated: 30 October 2018, 09:31

Katie Louise-Smith

By Katie Louise-Smith

Just like Riverdale, it seems like time works a lot differently in Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina... but what time period is Sabrina set in?

If Chilling Adventures of Sabrina hasn't taken over your life yet, then honestly, what are you doing? The dark adaptation of the comic series of the same name starring Kiernan Shipka dropped on Netflix on October 26th and it's already haunting - and confusing - the life out of viewers.

Thanks to the show's gorgeous yet actually very confusing retro aesthetic, fans are now wondering what year the show is actually set in. There's clearly throwbacks to the '60s (the fashion, the music) with some references to the '70s (the books), there's black and white TVs, transistor radios, old cars... and yet, there also seems to be a couple of Apple products thrown for good measure too. Honestly, what is going on?

What year is Chilling Adventures of Sabrina set in?

What year is 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' set in?
What year is 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' set in? According to the show, it's set in 2014. Picture: Netflix

The show points out that it takes place "this year" but is "this year" actually 2018?

In the first episode of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the show specifically tells viewers that events are taking place on “Tuesday October 28th of This Year,” but it’s never really specified which year that actually is.

In 2018, Oct. 28 falls on a Sunday and the next Tuesday October 28th will occur in 2025. But here's the thing: the last time October 28th fell on a Tuesday was in 2014 - which also happens to be the exact date when the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic debuted.

Going by those little nuggets of information, we can assume - for now - that the show takes place in 2014.

What year is Chilling Adventures of Sabrina set in?
According to Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the show takes place in 'this year.'. Picture: Netflix

Like Riverdale, the town is very much "set" in the past, but with modern technology at everyone's fingertips.

Like the original Archie comics, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (the comic book) is set in the 60s. While the show has maintained that retro aesthetic as a homage to original source material like it's sister show Riverdale, it's is clearly not set 50 years ago.

Case in point: the tech used by Harvey and Ambrose. We see Sabrina (on a landline) call Harvey's iPhone and we also see Ambrose using a MacBook. It's just like in Riverdale where everyone owns Apple products but no one seems bothered enough to splash out on a modern car or an up to date TV.

Oh, and remember what we just said about the show seemingly being set in 2014? Here's where that gets a little tricky... Harvey owns an iPhone X, which obviously never even existed in 2014. Unless the witches have got Apple's head office bugged... wouldn't put that past scheming opportunist Zelda tbh.

What year is 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' set in?
Both Harvey and Ambrose use iPhones and laptops in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Picture: Netflix

There's references to more 'modern zombie horror films'.

When the squad leave the cinema in the opening scene, Harvey complains about how slow the zombies are in 1968’s Night of the Living Dead compared to 'modern day' horror movies. Sabrina explains that "fast moving zombies are a relatively new concept in horror," which suggests that Harvey is has probably been watching films from the early '00s like 28 Days Later (2002) and Dawn of the Dead (2004).

What year is 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' set in?
The squad go to the cinema to see 1968’s 'Night of the Living Dead' but make references to modern horror films. Picture: Netflix

There's also the small matter of THAT Riverdale crossover with Ben Button.

In episode 7, Ben Button from Riverdale shows up at Ms Wardwell's (Madam Satan) door with a pizza, which is all well and good until we remember that Ben literally just died on Riverdale. Going by that information alone, it's clear that Sabrina must take place in the not so distant past, not that far off Riverdale's current timeline, right? Ben can't deliver pizzas if he's dead.

However, if we're sticking with the idea that Sabrina takes place in 2014 (as per the Tuesday October 28th date stamp) and assuming that Riverdale takes place in the present (does it? Do we even care at this point?), there's no way a 12-year-old Ben would be out delivering pizzas in Greendale at midnight looking like a grown ass 16-year-old boy, is there?

Then again, maybe Sabrina doesn't even exist in the same continuity as Riverdale? When Ben walked into Ms Wardwell's house, it was pretty clear that she ate him alive. Can you die twice in one universe? Did he come back to life? To be honest, nothing in Greendale stays dead for long... we've seen that proven on Riverdale once with the dead deer in season 2, episode 7 as it passed over into Greendale.

Ben from 'Riverdale' appears in 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina'
Ben from 'Riverdale' appears in 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' but is it set in the past or the future? Picture: Netflix

But that's another investigation for another day. For now, let's just say that, like Riverdale, there doesn't seem to be any concept of time and/or space in Greendale and it's just as weird as we thought. Maybe the show takes place in 2014, maybe it doesn't.

If you need us, we'll be in Riverdale, on the other side of Sweetwater river, where we belong. The side where RuPaul's Drag Race exists, where everyone has iPhones, where sleep demons can't find us and where Ben is no longer delivering our pizzas.