REVIEW BY ANDREW SEMKOW
Archie and the Riverdale gang have had many different iterations throughout their 76-year existence. A radio show, cartoons, a movie, and now in Archie is going live action for the show Riverdale.
Set in present day, Riverdale is a teen drama with a murder mystery mixed in. The series is somewhat of an origin story: Veronica has just arrived in Riverdale, Archie is just starting to work on his music, and Jughead is no longer his friend.
The show’s murder mystery revolves around the death of Jason Blossom. In the comics Jason is Archie’s longtime rival and has a romantic interest in Betty. It’s unique that they chose to kill him off rather than have him play a part in the series, and while they make it seem like at the end of Episode 1 the murder will be solved easy, I doubt it will be that simple.
One of the likeable things about the show is Betty and Veronica’s relationship. Rather than fighting over Archie as would be expected, Betty and Veronica (Lili Reinhart and Camila Mendes) help each other out, Veronica even tries to help her get with Archie. They are definitely the best part of the episode.
One of the more controversial aspects of the show is the relationship Archie has with Ms. Grundy. The decision to have a student/teacher romantic relationship is creepy and it feels like they’re glamorizing the taboo of student/teacher relations. It also doesn’t help that Archie is trying to push it further and this makes him come off as creepy and controlling.
The show is shot with a greyish tint that gives it a doom and gloom feel. Even when they’re at an event like a dance the colours feel muted, giving the show a constant sense of melancholy, making happy moments hard to enjoy.
Archie (K.J. Apa) as a character is hard to like. We know he’s the main character but he comes off as flat, I’ve already mentioned the Ms.Grundy relationship, but even without that he does nothing to win the audience over.
Some other familiar faces include Josie and the Pussycats who are the school’s big band, and Jughead (The Suite Life of Zack and Cody’s Cole Sprouse) who serves as the narrator/overseer of all events, Pop is also in the show as the proprietor of Pop’s Chocolate (chock’lit) Shop. And in interesting casting, Luke Perry (Beverly Hills 90210) plays Archie’s dad Fred Andrews
Riverdale is ultimately a passable show. There are times when the show shatters expectations, Veronica isn’t as vapid as you’d expect, Jughead isn’t food obsessed, and Moose is in the closet about his sexuality. But there are other times where the show falls apart with the Archie/Grundy relationship, Betty’s strict mother is eye rolling especially in a world of cellphones and social media. Ultimately this is a show that knows it’s for teens to early twentysomethings, and knows how to cater to them. Anyone else may want to steer clear of the show.
Final Score: 3.0/5.0
Riverdale airs on CW on Thursdays and is added to Netflix the next day.