The new season of Are You Afraid of the Dark? may be a reboot but it remembers its past and makes more than subtle nods to the original show.
The new season of Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark? adds to the show’s long lineage. After its original run in the early ’90s, it had a short-lived revival around the turn of the millennium before returning in 2019. While Are You Afraid of the Dark? had always been episodic in nature, providing an anthology of horror stories appropriate for younger audiences, the earlier versions of the show still established a canon and introduced fan-favorite characters among the stories and the storytellers. In fact, some of these are even referenced in the brand new Are You Afraid of the Dark?: Curse of the Shadows.
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The original Are You Afraid of the Dark? series introduced a group of teens who met in the woods at midnight to tell scary stories. It was the overarching link for an anthology show, giving a series of unrelated episodic horror tales a reason to exist in the same universe. The Nickelodeon reboot makes the group of friends more integral to the stories and sets them up as characters in their own supernatural tales.
One of the earliest references in the Are You Afraid of the Dark?: Curse of the Shadows premiere is a sighting of the Ghastly Grinner. This slime-drooling jester sprang from a comic book thanks to a microwave accident in the original series, quickly turning people Joker-style into imitations of his ghastly face. The comic itself reappears in the new series, with Jai proudly sharing it with Luke at the beginning of the episode. Jai had also hid a doll version of the Ghastly Grinner in Luke’s locker for an early jump scare.
The biggest call back is the return of Sardo and his Magic Mansion. A recurring character from the original version of the show, Sardo was a magician who sold overpriced magic accouterments that more often than not turned out to possess real magical powers. He and his wares were often the source of the episode’s supernatural problem. In Curse of the Shadows, Sardo appears to know that he’s in possession of a real magic book, and a missing member of the Midnight Society had broken into the returning Magic Mansion to steal it.
Even the inclusion of Midnight Society member Hanna’s little brother Seth can be viewed as a reference to the original series. Gary, the leader of the original Midnight Society, had a younger brother who was also inducted into the group. His initiation was a vehicle to bring the audience along on the ride — much like the first season of Nickelodeon’s rebooted Are You Afraid of the Dark? — but also led to some interesting sibling dynamics around the fire. As Seth attempts to earn his place in the latest Midnight Society, his antics with big sister Hanna feel similar. The show has always had a tradition of sibling spooky storytellers, which this latest series leans into.
There are sure to be other references peppered in throughout the remaining Are You Afraid of the Dark?: Curse of the Shadows series. Sardo’s shop alone is probably nothing but Easter eggs and references to previous episodes. Even the Midnight Society’s walk through the cursed woods uncovered what looks like the fire pit from the original series, which the friends stop and admire.
Are You Afraid of the Dark?: Curse of the Shadows stars Bryce Gheisar, Arjun Athalye, Beatrice Kitsos, Malia Baker, Dominic Mariche and Parker Queenan. New episodes air Fridays on Nickelodeon.
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