For the first TV Tuesday I will talk about The CW’s hit neo-noir drama Riverdale; an adaptation of characters from the Archie Comics focusing on the town and its inhabitants. The first season revolves around the investigation into the murder of Jason Blossom and the affect it has on the less than picturesque town. These aren’t the characters we see in the comics. While fans of the comics may fear this to be “just another teen drama,” it has a lot more to offer. The mystery mixed with the complexity of the whole story, Riverdale gives us something to root for.
In Riverdale Archie is an oblivious brooding jock with a heart of gold. Always wanting to do the right thing, Archie often makes mistakes regarding his relationships but always tries to make it right. Torn between music and football, Archie is falling more in love with his musical side everyday and he might just leave the sport behind as he teams up with his musically inclined friends to pursue his dreams.
Archies best friend is Jughead Jones, most known for his love of hamburgers in the comics. However Riverdale’s Jughead is a little different then the character we know and love. While he spends the majority of his time at Pop’s, Juggie as Betty affectionally calls him spends more time consuming coffee then food. He is writing a book about Jason’s death and becomes a suspect in his murder early on. Still sporting his ever present hat, Jughead is the outcast of the town and who often has to deal with the many bullies Riverdale has to offer.
Betty begins the series as a lovelorn girl who wants to be more than friends with Archie. The Betty of Riverdale has a darker side that scares her but excites us none-the-less. Wanting to make a difference and tell the truth, Betty reopens the Blue and Gold at her school, gets revenge on Chuck Clayton for his slut-shaming behavior and joins the river vixens along side reformed mean girl Veronica Lodge.
One half of V & B is struggling to accept her new life and to live below the means she has become accustomed. While the version of Veronica in print is a rich white girl, Lodge at sixteen in Riverdale is a woman of color who’s rich father has gone to prison for Ponzie scheme antics. The cast is full of adapted characters including mean girl Cheryl Blossom, gay best friend Kevin Keller, Archies rival Reggie Mantel, front woman Josie McCoy, appearances by Jason Blossom, Dilton Doiely, Chuck Clayton, Ethel Muggs and a bevy of others.
Riverdale is a great show for women to sink their teeth into. The female characters may be role models but they are real. The female characters of Riverdale are people who change, grow and develop like the male characters of the show. They fight back, make mistakes and lose control without it being used to titilate the male audience. There is kissing and crushes but hardly any sex. The affair between Archie and his teacher Ms. Grundy, don’t worry she is younger than the white haired lady from the comics, made some cringe but it gave was a look at the female predator. In her exit we see who she really is. A woman devoid of remorse and any understanding of her actions and we the audience are devoid of sympathy for her.
The show contains great direction and cinematography. It is well written with witty dialogue and a slew of smart pop culture references. The cast members and the characters they play are perfect. While they mirror the characters in the comic universe, the Riverdale incarnations are more complex as are the relationships. You even sympathize with the bad girls and get mad at the good ones. The good guy has you livid at times and the bad guys have out root for them. Riverdale is how a teen drama should be written and how a comic book like Archie should be adapted.
At the end of the first season we learn who killed Jason Blossom but not everything is tied up with a bow. The actions of the first season and the last episode will spill over into season two. Character development will continue and relationships will struggle. New characters will be introduced and the darkness of Riverdale will remain. If you are looking for your typical teen drama, Riverdale is not for you but if you are looking for something with substance and intrigue you might want to give this show a shot.
Riverdale will return to The CW on Oct 11. Riverdale is available to stream on Netflix. Grab a milkshake, a burger and some fries and settle in to a night on the couch as you binge this teen drama with a twist.