So, let me start by being honest. I’ve never read any of the Archie comics. As I watched the pilot episode of Riverdale, The CW’s take on the classic Archie comics, I found myself scouring Wikipedia to try and keep up with all of the references. Some characters I recognized without prompting. I knew who Josie and the Pussycats were. I had heard of the other characters as well, but I really didn’t know anything about them.
And you don’t have to.
There are a few tongue-in-cheek throwback jokes to the comics, but the show doesn’t expect you to know the source material at all. In fact, I didn’t even realize it was based on anything until I read an article about it.
You have all of the characters you would expect–Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead–but not in the way that you would expect them. Archie is a tortured teen who recently turned into a man because he spent the summer working construction for his dad. Betty is the lovelorn girl-next-door who is patiently waiting for Archie to discover her. Veronica is the rich girl who has just escaped to Riverdale to start a new life with her mother, but who desperately doesn’t want to be the mean girl of her past. And Jughead. Jughead is the mopey emo blogger who narrates the whole story.
When I started watching, I really didn’t have any expectations. I watch a lot of shows on The CW. I love the Arrowverse. I love The 100. I wasn’t interested by the previews for Riverdale, but I was willing to give the show a shot. As the plot progressed it quickly became familiar though, because I had seen it years before … in Pretty Little Liars.
So here come some spoilers. The pilot of Pretty Little Liars starts as a group of mean girls wakes up in the middle of the night to discover that their “friend” is missing. One year later, at her memorial service, the girls meet back up only to discover that someone named “A” knows their dirty little secret-whatever that is. Throughout the pilot of Pretty Little Liars we get to know a little more about each of the girls. Aria, the smart girl with a poet’s soul, meets a man at a bar and, after lying about her age, quickly takes it to the next level. When school starts again, she discovers he is her English teacher. Dun. Dun. Dunnnnnn.
As an English teacher, I resent that Hollywood always makes us literary types out to be unethical and incapable of maintaining appropriate relationships with students (or parents … ahem Gilmore Girls …). Anyway ….
The show opens as we see Betty with her shirt unbuttoned talking with her gay friend about how hunky Archie is next door. From the start, the writers of the show wanted to set the tone for the kind of show that this was going to be. It was going to be progressive and it was going to shake up expectations. Noted.
Through Jughead’s narration and as the story progresses, we also learn that Archie has discovered the power of music by dating the music teacher. Check. Oh, and a boy from school went missing over the summer. And check. I’m sure I’m not the only one who realized that the pilot for Pretty Little Liars got dusted off and reused for Riverdale. But does that really matter? Probably not. Only to nerds like me.
So, was it any good? Yeah. I mean, I’ve already watched the second episode. And yes, I’m curious what’s going to happen next, like any show.
Riverdale hits on a lot of established notes. It clearly isn’t afraid to repeat what’s worked before (a la J. J. Abrams and The Force Awakens). So, naturally it feels familiar. It feels new-ish. It feels like it’s going to be a fine show. I for one am willing to keep watching to see how it progresses as it stretches out and (hopefully) becomes it’s own.
Source: The CW