I’ve never been much into Archie comics. Aside from a few thick grocery store volumes acquired in the checkout lane when I was still single digits, my attention skimmed right past Archie and his pals to the Ducktales comics and, later, to some scarier, stranger volumes. (Hello, Locke & Key.)
Several months ago, articles came out across the web to announce the news: An Archie television series was coming to The CW, and to my surprise, my curiosity was piqued. I was already open to giving an Archie series a try, but the fact that it would be on The CW was what caught my interest. The CW is known to me for two things: Its long-running, over-the-top dramas and its collection of surprisingly successful DC comics series. And as expected, this wasn’t to be your typical Archie, the half-hour, antics-filled sitcom I would have guessed we’d get from any other channel. Despite the visual callbacks in the forms of Jughead’s hat and Archie’s garish orange hair (more on that later), this was going to be a gritty, dramatic look at Archie and the rest of the Riverdale community, so I was skeptical, because I couldn’t understand how or why you’d make this adaptation into something dark. It could be such a let down.
I am so glad to have been wrong.
My truest loves come in the forms of Our Lady of Personal Reformation, Veronica Lodge; Our Lady of Pining and Perfection, Betty Cooper; the cool-as-hell, suffer-no-fools Josie and the Pussycats; and the tortured, emo Jughead Jones, also our narrator to this beautiful bastardization of classic entertainment. These are whom I tune in for every week. Betty and Veronica (Lili Reinhart and Camila Mendes) had me shouting my love for their friendship to my empty house in the middle of the afternoon as I watched the first episode, and I can’t help but cheer every time Ashleigh Murray as bandleader Josie comes on screen. She exudes a fierceness and dedication to her music that I can’t help but admire. Cole Sprouse’s narrative role as Jughead is the perfect level of broody to guide us through the drama and moral debasement of this little town.
The show isn’t perfect in the way you’d expect any show on The CW to just fall short. The first episode relied on the old trope of attention-grabbing girl-on-girl action without a real romantic relationship (while simultaneously calling it out through the vessel of Cheryl Blossom, so brownie points for that nonetheless). Additionally, our main protagonist is the least interesting to me so far–although even he has his moments that leave me shouting at the TV–and his albeit appropriately cartoonish red hair can be a bit of an eyesore. I’m not even sure if they match his eyebrows, honestly. But at only the third episode, I’m not going to hold that against everything else this show has going for it.
Riverdale is everything I was anticipating but in the best ways. Is it over the top? Absolutely. With murder, sex, and revenge all twisted together, how could it not be? But it never quite reaches the level of too much. The show knows when to reel it in and bring us back to something we can’t look away from (and often I don’t want to). One of the best parts of my week right now is live-tweeting the new episodes on Thursday nights, screaming into the internet void with other fans and talking through our feelings. If I believed in “guilty pleasures,” this might be one, but I feel no guilt for enjoying the lurid escapades of Riverdale and its inhabitants.
Have you watched the show yet? What are your thoughts? Who’s your favorite? Let’s talk!