[B]ack in the days when life was simpler than it is now there was a certain brand of comic books that ruled the entire readership of that particular genre – a story about a boy and his friends set in the fictional town of Riverdale. If you were a kid or in your teenage in the 80s or even the 90s you would definitely be well aware of the ever so charming red head that ruled the hearts of many – Archie.
Archie and his pals were a direct parallel to the North American youth in whatever era the comic book was being published in. The staples of pop culture from the early 1950s and 1960s such as soda shops ingrained their way into the representations of later eras. Such was the enormous following that Archie comics had.
Thus it made perfect sense to adopt the characters from the comic book into a show. The title already had a following and the characters were well already very well developed. Besides, the show would bring about a whiff of nostalgia to the millennial population right?
Well, not everything about the above ran true. When the first few promos of the show ‘Riverdale’ came out it got many of us particularly excited about what was about to come next. However, as the first few set of trailers revealed the show it became clear that even though the inspiration for the show came from the comic books the show has a different setting altogether.
*Warning: Spoilers ahead*
The show throws the viewer directly into the foray. It starts off with the introduction to the characters and the setting via a murder. The body of Cheryl Blossom’s brother is recovered from a lake. Before that we are introduced to Archie Andrews, who seems to be coming back to Riverdale after a long time. Stalking him at that point is Betty and Kevin. Betty likes Archie but it seems that Archie is interested in someone else as is revealed in the episodes that follow later on. As is the case with the Archie world, the idea that the story adapts to cultural elements of today is commendable. Riverdale is a hotbed of everything that is wrong and right with the American culture of today – you have a teacher in a relationship with her student who also happens to be a victim of domestic abuse. In the mix, you have corrupt politicians and businessmen attempting to make a quick buck off the town’s prized properties. You have a wife that is unfaithful to her husband going into a relationship with her ex-lover from the past. You have the town’s underdogs, a bunch of gangsters that are also deeply involved in the tangled mess that is happening all around.
The beauty of the show and its writing is how it manages to amalgamate all the various story arcs together so that they can relate to each other seamlessly. For example, the way Betty’s going into journalism with Jughead ultimately leads her to investigating the murder of Cheryl Blossom’s brother uncovering the true story behind the reason her sister was moved away from Riverdale and also leads her into a romantic relationship with Jughead after Archie brushes her off. When you start to believe that the show revolves around Betty, it is then the spotlight is shining just as brightly on her best friend Veronica. The story takes borderline turns towards that of sitcomesque type shows such as the O.C but still manages to steer its way clear by adding more depth and character to how its world functions.
The show covers almost all the characters from the comic book in a politically correct manner and makes them relevant to the plot even if they barely had any lines to their name in the comic book series. Characters such as Sherrif Keller although part of the supporting cast are important members of the plot line. Other characters such as Veronica Lodge’s father Mr.Lodge are not present in the show but manage to create their presence felt via underhanded tactics that they execute using proxies such as his own wife.
By far, the most interesting character in the show is Jughead. This version of Jughead is not the innocent food lover that we had in the comic book but is rather a boy with a dark outlook on life as a result of what has happened to him. The show also reveals another character that isn’t covered much in the book – Jughead’s father. A troubled man with a history, he is the reason that Jughead’s family has broken apart. Another interesting character is Veronica Lodge – she is depicted as a new entrant into the town but her behavior is quite different from the Veronica we have in the comic book. The whole idea that she has discarded the persona of being a jerk to those around her due to a sudden loss of wealth and fame plays out very well into her developing a role as a supporting cast member. Archie’s personality is irritating to say the least and surprisingly, even though it seems he is the centerpiece of the whole plot his life only has an equal weightage as compared to the other characters. This was the best deviation the director and the writers have made from the original.
All in all, Riverdale is a good show that is not your usual teen drama and has a well developed plot and cast such that the usual fans of the Archie world will not be disappointed. Even if your not a fan of the genre, such as was the case with this reviewer, the show is an enjoyable watch that brings about nostalgic memories as one delves into the life of each of Riverdale’s characters.
- The Storyline
- Archie's personality
- Some basic tropes