Volume 6, Issue 6
“Welcome to Riverdale”
My name is Jon, and I’m pretty sure I’m addicted to The CW’s Riverdale.
Yes, I know, it’s weird that a thirty-year-old guy would be interested in this show to begin with, and I’m surprised as anyone to be gushing as much as I am, but here we are.
I’ll admit that my viewing of the pilot episode was for purely selfish reasons. After reading an interview with Riverdale show runner (and Archie Comics CCO) Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa in which he stated “if Riverdale is successful we’ll absolutely look at other Archie properties to adapt, with Sabrina being the first one”, I knew that I’d be checking the show out, if only to get Sabrina a new show. Now, you all know my love for Sabrina, so if I had to endure watching a couple hours of teen drama to get a new Sabrina show with the premise of her awesome Chilling Adventures comic, that was a small price to pay.
But after watching the first episode, I was hooked. Sure, the first few minutes were tough to get through, and the show is using every single teen drama stereotype in the book, but I found myself really wanting to see where the show went after I finished the episode. This take on Archie, while corny at times, is also pretty self-aware and playing the teen TV drama tropes well, mainly because the show runners have worked Archie’s world into the “Teen Drama” categories. Archie is the every teen, Betty is the girl madly in love with him that’s “just a friend”, Veronica is the new girl in town who’s trying to turn over a new leaf, Kevin Keller is the gay best friend to the girls, and Jughead is the sullen teen. It sounds ridiculous, but it somehow works really, really well.
Part of what makes Riverdale so intriguing is that it’s not trying to completely modernize Archie and his friends. While they are in a modern day setting, there are plenty of throwback aspects of the show that add to the uniqueness of the show. Pop’s Diner is still very much a classic 50’s diner, and there’s a strange throwback style to some of the outfits the characters wear, like the crown shape beanie Jughead’s known for. Plus the fact that this season centers on the murder of Cheryl Blossom’s brother Jason gives the show a very Twin Peaks vibe, which according to Sacasa, was intentional. There’s also a little bit of Welcome To Nightvale in the show as well. You just know that something is lurking just underneath the surface in the town of Riverdale, and Jason’s death is going to be the first domino to fall that reveals everyone’s ugly secrets.
It’s this tone and theme that really makes Riverdale stick out. Yes, there’s still the love triangle between Archie, Betty, and Veronica, but it’s set against the backdrop of a town that is brimming with secrets. Plus, Luke Perry (yes, the one from 90210) is pretty damn fantastic as Archie’s dad. Yes, even characters like Archie’s dad get the CW treatment here (just wait until you see Ms. Grundy). Plus the newcomers playing Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead are all really solid, and show promise for any future projects.
Look, I know Riverdale is probably a hard sell for a lot of you, but I must be honest, it’s pretty damn entertaining. The typical teenage drama you’ve seen before in The O.C, One Tree Hill, Melrose Place, Beverly Hills 90210 and on and on is very apparent here, but if the tropes and stereotypes are done well? Well, that means that the show runners know what they are doing. Plus it’s another sign that Archie Comics, one of the most underrated publishers out there for new and daring ideas, is capable of still being relevant. After reigniting their comic line with Afterlife With Archie and the Mark Waid reboot, Riverdale is the next logical step for the company. And if it gets some new blood into a comic shop, that’s even better.
So far, Riverdale has become the biggest surprise of the year for me. I never in a million years thought that I’d be tuning in to the second episode, and the third episode, and actively looking forward to the next episode, and even debated about where the show is going and who is behind Jason Blossom’s murder with some people. That’s pretty damn insane. Really the only thing that could make Riverdale any better is if Sabrina showed up at some point to set up a spin off.
Oh what’s that? She is?