It's safe to say that all of us have grown up reading Archie comics. For those with us with stricter parents, reading Archie comics under the bed covers on the sly, lest our parents catch us reading stories about hormonal teens whose lives revolved around going on dates, parties and other teenage shenanigans represented a forbidden pleasure of sorts. So, when Netflix comes along and fulfils the collective dreams of that entire generation by bringing their favorite comics to life, you can probably imagine the squeals of joy that ensued. Riverdale is essentially that reimagination of the entire Archie universe, but told in an eerie, sinister way.
Those who hadn't seen the Riverdale trailer yet were probably expecting a romantic comedy series, featuring the bumbling yet good-natured Archie, perennially unable to choose between wholesome blonde Betty Cooper and wealthy high-school vixen Veronica Lodge; Jughead eternally snacking on carbs without gaining a single pound, Reggie being exceptionally pompous and Moose being really devoted to his girlfriend.
Of course, Riverdale keeps the principal characters intact-only on the surface, it seems. Betty is still blonde, Veronica's jet black hair gets shinier with every episode, Jughead is never actually seen eating a burger but we know he's probably eating them because it's his sole source of nourishment, Josie and the Pussycats keep producing great music, Reggie is still a stereotypical jock bully and Kevin Keller is still gay. If you're averse to spoilers, I suggest you stop reading at this point because several key plot points will be discussed further in the article.
Ten minutes into the show and you will know that the universe of Riverdale is a dystopian, nightmarish version of the affable Archie comics universe we loved and spent our adolescence on. The show opens with the gruesome murder of Jason Blossom, a breathtakingly beautiful teen who was several things all at once: a loved brother and son, football team favorite and the school crush. We are introduced to the signature characters from the original universe of the Archie comics and suddenly the series is no longer about regular teenage shenanigans. Central character Archie Andrews is a jock who is clearly constipated with love.
Betty Cooper is a fantastic wordsmith, yet has clear rage issues. Veronica Lodge is the rich troubled girl with a clear conscious and a heart of gold. Jughead is so emo that he is a walking prototype of angsty screamo bands, never failing to remind everyone of how weird he is. Kevin Keller plays the stereotypical trope of a flamboyant gay man whilst regularly exchanging saliva with a known gang member. We are introduced to other characters, such as the mysterious Blossom siblings whose entire financial worth is more than the whole of Riverdale's combined, and the Southside Serpents, the stereotypical "bad guys" and gangsters who are revealed to be not all that bad in the end but fulfil the need for Riverdale to have someone/something called "The Bad Guys." The parents of each of these five characters are bumped up to major players in the series, and are clearly the worst parents ever.
Riverdale makes for a riveting, thrilling watch. It can hardly be classified as high-octane drama but is gripping enough for you to occasionally exclaim "I did NOT see that coming!" It's an eclectic mishmash of several teen dramas of the past (90210, Gossip Girl, OC, Twin Peaks, Pretty Little Liars) and heavily references pop culture from a bygone era. And, to top it off perfectly, the parents of the principal characters are played by the stars of these teenage dramas (Skeet Ulrich from Scream is cast as a drunk gang leader, Luke Perry from 90210 plays a concerned dad trying to keep it together).
The series discusses things such as drugs, violence, gang-warfare, corruption, teenage pregnancy, homosexuality, criminally inclined parents, family feuds and, of course, is not complete without a dash of incest. It's starts out as a bunch of kids and their parents making poor life choices on a daily basis, and ends up with the principal characters playing Scooby-Doo in order to prove the innocence of another character.
Riverdale is a refreshingly twisted, steroid-ridden take on your childhood, fraught with teenage hormones, cheesy dialogue and logic-defying decisions. You’ll certainly be on the edge of your seat by the end of most episodes, and if you are not formulating theories more complex than quantum physics by the end of the third episode, Riverdale is not for you. For those of you who are newbies to the show, welcome to the fandom. For those who have eagerly and faithfully waited to receive your answers throughout the entire seasons, good things come in the form of season 2.