You’re probably not watching, because it’s on the CW and, despite the boost in programming over the last few years, you still see the CW as teen fare. You’re absolutely right in the sense that Riverdale has the overly sexualized “teens” and the melodrama of highschool but this show is so much more. It’s a murder mystery, a no-apologies feminist agenda, and further proof that adults have about the same idea what they’re doing with their life that teenagers do. Doesn’t it suck to find that out for yourself? These aren’t the Vampires, or Superheroes you’re used to. These are the regular kids you went to high school with, just better looking and with more murder. Unless you went to school in a rough town so maybe the same amount of murder?
I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t read the Archie comics since before my mom made my dentist appointments. Coincidentally, the dentist is also the only place I know that had these comics. But from what I remember the show has departed from its source material quite a bit. Obviously there’s the murder of the overly affectionate Blossom twin Jason. Oops, I mean mysteriously death. Oh whatever you find out he was murdered in the first episode, the whodunit is the real mystery! The other major departure is the characters. Archie is hot, inspiring hope for ginger-headed kids everywhere and Ms. Grundy is hot, sexually confusing true comic fans who remember her as a grumbly old lady. Jughead, who is supposed to be comic relief, is far more nuanced, and making me feel more sympathy than I ever thought I would for Ross Geller’s son. The best part, Veronica is all about girl power. Despite being your typical popular girl, she’s also putting her friends ahead of boys. Sure, she refers to her father as “daddy” but no one is perfect, alright?
The usual catty girl dynamic is thrown out the window, well with the high school aged girls at least. The mothers in this town are holding onto grudges longer than me that time the guy from the zoo was clearly pointing to me to come hold the giant snake, not the girl next to me! See, totally over it. There’s the drama that Cheryl Blossom creates just by her presence, but Betty and Veronica are actually friends, who quickly got over their issues with their shared affections for Archie. I’m enjoying the dynamic between Betty and Jughead if only because I swear it made Archie a little jealous, like he was simultaneously losing his best friend and personal cheerleader, realising maybe he can’t take people for granted all the time. Count me in for a Jughead-Betty-Archie love triangle instead of the usual Betty-Archie-Veronica love triangle of the comics. My only issue would be reinforcing the idea that I did something wrong in high school. Was I supposed to have two good looking boys fight for my affections? Perhaps my incessant need to be right and laissez faire attitude towards personal hygiene kept them at bay? Or maybe, like Cheryl Blossom, I’m just too good looking and strong willed and that scared them. You know, minus the strange attachment to the twin brother thing.
The parents in this show are the only thing I have a problem with. They all grew up on the same town, went to high school together, and are putting their problems with each other on their kids. Fred Andrews, Archie’s dad, is probably the only supportive one and even eyes having an extramarital affair. I am totally into Skeet Ulrich’s portrayal of Jughead’s dad. He’s weirdly good looking for an actor I only know as (spoiler alert, wait does it count as a spoiler of it’s been 18 years?) the murderer in Scream but he’s also super sympathetic for an alcoholic. It seems played out – alcoholic dad that’s essentially being raised by his grown-up-too-fast kid, but damn I believe it and actually care for his personal growth. It’s too bad he was probably drunk when he named his children.
We’re only halfway through the first season but I’m excited to see where this show will go. At the very least, I’m happy to have a show I may actually be able to get my friends interested in again.