Moody, malicious and far from mundane. This is not the Archie Comics of yesteryear.
If you’re looking for the happy-go-lucky version of Riverdale, you’re not going to find that here.
What you’re instead going to find is intrigue, scandal and (gasp) murder!
Just to summarize: Archie (KJ Apa) kicks off the series having an affair with his teacher, Miss Grundy (Sarah Habel). Veronica (Camilla Mendes) is new to town, trying to start over with her mom, Hermione (Marisol Nichols) after her father ends up in jail for fraud. Betty (Lili Reinhart) has a temper, Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is a drifter whose dad is a gangster…and don’t get me started on everyone else’s parents. Oh, and did I mention someone’s murdered Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines)?
The series overall is pretty intriguing, namely because everyone has a dirty little secret, which is what ropes viewers in. When I took a step back, I realized that the show wasn’t really much, critically, to write home about. There are some really talented actors and actresses here, though; standouts for me include Lili Reinhart and Cole Sprouse as Betty Cooper and Jughead Jones. Another bright spot: Madelaine Petsch, who plays the callous and incredibly broken Cheryl Blossom – she makes the Cheryl in the comics look like a kitten. After all these episodes, as much as I love the guy, I still can’t get over KJ Apa being cast in the Archie role. There’s just something about him that is oh-so-awkward. Maybe it’s the re-imagining of Archie with Apa at the helm, but Apa as an actor is pretty solid.
Consistency is not really Riverdale’s cup of tea. For instance, we really only hit the tip of Betty’s anger issues in this first season; it really all just fades into the background. The show is far more interested in shocking you with twists and reveals (especially in the back half of the season) versus wrapping up story arcs.
For sheer entertainment, I think this show is worth your time. There are some really controversial moments (remember when I said Archie was sleeping with his teacher? Just one of many reactions to that here.) If you’re looking for an all-around smart drama, you’re not going to find that here. I also have to give the series points for being shot locally (shout out to #bcfilm!), including areas like Alouette Lake, Mission, New Westminster and Vancouver.
Three out of five from me. The series also originally aired on CW, and is also available on Netflix to watch.