What do you get when you mix the dark style of Twin Peaks with the lovable 50s characters of Archie? Something… surprisingly really good.
When I saw the first promo for The CW’s new show, Riverdale, I thought it looked (what’s the word?) terrible. It uses the same old characters, but instead of being caught in goofy hijinks with Jug Head, Archie’s caught in the middle of a murder mystery.
The basic premise of the show is that Jason Blossom, a student of Riverdale High, has been found dead in a river. However, the audience, and Archie, know from the beginning there’s a bigger, darker mystery at play.
It turns out that the format of the Archie comics work perfectly for a soap opera. One of the main draws of the show is just how well they utilize the love triangle between Archie, Betty and Veronica.
The showrunners seem fully aware that they’re using the most famous love triangle in pop culture and have a very fun time playing around with it.
In the first episode Veronica tries to encourage Betty to finally make a move on Archie and ask him to the dance. Slowly working up the courage, Betty gets down to the last second and tells Archie that he should take both her and Veronica to the dance.
You can almost feel the wink to the audience.
I cannot stress enough that this show is a soap opera and not just a drama. Don’t expect anything else. There are love triangles, scandalous affairs going on while everyone’s lying, betraying, or mad at someone for vague reasons.
What makes the show fun is just how well these tropes are executed. It’s engaging and flips all the Archie tropes on their head.
Archie is seemingly stuck in the middle of his classic Betty or Veronica dilemma. In reality, however, he is secretly in love with the music teacher he had an affair with over the summer.
Jughead is no longer the loveable dummy, but an outcast writer. Veronica is no longer the rich popular girl, but a broke, humbled outsider.
Even Betty, who’s at first faithful to her girl-next-door counterpart, has a dark side too. We learn her loving and supporting family has been swapped for a manipulative and emotionally abusive one.
The only issue I have with the show rests in the teacher-student affair Archie has with music teacher, Ms. Grundy.
Yes I get that the show is supposed to be a “steamy soap opera” and it serves as a good conflict. I’m just not a fan, it’s kind of gross.
Also, I’m not sure how much of CW’s target audience actually knows about the source material and a million jokes, winks and nods. However, so far it doesn’t seem to be hurting them.
Overall I really enjoy the show (if that hasn’t been clear already) and I’m excited for more. If I had to tell the network just one thing it would probably be:
Please CW… don’t mess this up