I grew up reading Archie comics. My mom got me hooked on them because she would pick up the digest booklets from the grocery store and I would read them front-to-back. I ended up even going to a local comic shop to pick-up the latest issue. It was an odd comic to get into for my age, because it was set in a time (the 50s) I didn’t grow up in or was really highlighted in any cartoons I was watching at the time. Still, the stories told were short and for some reason I enjoyed them. So when I heard that the CW was creating Riverdale, naturally, I was confused. How would a show in that time period be received on a network targeting a young audience?
Well, Archie and the gang has been modernized! Many of the characters have remnants of who they are in the comics, but many of them seem to have more situational/personality traits than they did in the comics.
To be fair, the comics had a very cookie-cutter formula: problem presented, problem worked through, comedic resolution with everyone happy. The first episode in Riverdale does a good job of showing you that this is not a wholesome, feel good show. There’s been a murder!
That’s right, the first season of Riverdale is centered around the murder of Jason Blossom, Cheryl’s brother. It makes for an interesting season of “Clue” and “whodunnit”, but they do a good job of introducing all of the characters and a sense of who they are. Each episode has pretty good pacing, and there is an interesting mix of romance, horror, and drama.
Basically, Riverdale is loosely based on Archie comics, more for the characters, the town, and small family histories, but this show really is much more than that. Each character gets enough attention and story arcs of their own without detracting from the core of the story that is being told (Jason Blossom’s murder). There are many references aloud to Nancy Drew, and one in the last season to Scooby Doo, which is very fitting because the level of horror/gore in this is that of those books/shows, but has enough mystery involved to keep you watching.
I like how they had diversity in the cast as well. Archie comics is very…white, however Josie and the Pussycats are all women of color, as well as the mayor and principal. There’s a main gang member, Kevin, who is openly gay and the show doesn’t stop to point it out, he’s like a normal character! The women and men in the show seem to get equal screen time and have diverse character traits, so this truly is refreshing.
If you are interested in a group of friends, going through ups and downs (divorce, alcoholic parents, trust, parents in jail, depression, anger, slut shaming,…need I go on?) who all manage to stick together. That is one thing that has always been the center of Archie comics, and has extended to Riverdale. This is the reason why I binged the first season on Netflix in one sitting. I highly recommend checking out this series. They do resolve who Jason Blossom’s murderer is in the first season, so I’m looking forward to how they will continue the story momentum in the second season (and there seems to be plenty of story there). If you aren’t hooked by the second episode, give it a pass, but this show had its hooks in me in the first episode, even if it isn’t really Archie comics.