Written by Vanessa Donadio
If I had to explain Riverdale to someone who hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t really know how. I could say it’s a twisted take on the Archie Comics, or that it’s about a group of friends in a spooky town solving murder mysteries together, but I’d be excluding some very important details, like how every scene looks like it was shot in the dark, how bizarrely dramatic it is and how this group of 16-year-olds acts more grown than any student here at Bonaventure. I’ll be honest; I love it. I binged the second half of season two and all of the released episodes of season three over break. I couldn’t stop, and when I ran out of episodes, my life felt a little duller, but it’s ridiculous. It is the absolute cringiest show I have ever seen, and it’s got some issues, to say the least.
The first season, which revolves around the murder of Jason Blossom, is wacky, but still fun and invigorating. We are introduced to Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Jughead Jones and many other characters from the comics, as real people. Archie is the popular, sweet, music-loving jock, Betty is the intelligent nice girl and lifelong best friend of Archie, Veronica is the spoiled, rich, new girl and Jughead is the bad boy loner with a passion for justice. In each season, relationships form, suspects are questioned and creepy results ensue.
The drama is overwhelming. The main characters never have time to enjoy their lives as teenagers or goof around because they’re too busy dealing with insane situations. Forget Days of Our Lives. The real theatrics are found in Riverdale. The show only gets crazier and harder to take seriously with each new season. Along with murders, we are subjected to an affair between a teacher and student, gangs, insane family members, mafia parents, jingle jangle (which is even dumber when you know what it means), a suicidal Dungeons and Dragons parody board game and overly sexualized minors. So much lunacy occurs that it’s hard to understand what’s going on most of the time, and I’m honestly not sure the writers know, either. The current season is too all over the place to analyze. It’s almost like an incredibly dark version of Wonderland where everything is nonsense.
The characters themselves can be hard to admire. The dialogue in this show is usually terrible. There are several compilations on YouTube about “Riverdale Having Bad Writing” for a reason. Jughead’s “I’m weird. I’m a weirdo” speech has become notorious. Veronica’s absurd lines are either cringe-worthy or nearly incomprehensible. This begins in the very first episode when we hear “You wanted fire? Sorry, Cheryl Bombshell. My specialty is ice.” The rest of the characters have pitiful lines, too. We mustn’t forget other classics such as, “There’s always room for one more kitty in my litterbox,” and “Doesn’t it ever occur to you how different we are? Like on a cellular DNA kind of level?” Perhaps one of my personal favorites is “Archiekins, don’t be jelly. It’s just a ghost from my bad girl past.” I can’t make this stuff up.
Veronica and Archie’s relationship feels wrong, mainly because of how entitled and egotistical she can be, as she lets Archie make poor decisions for her own benefit. Jughead’s whiny attitude makes him come off as pretentious and moody (but he might be the most realistic depiction of an actual teenager in the show, so, props, I guess). While it’s not the worst ship in the show, “Bughead” doesn’t live up to the fangirl hype. Jughead and Betty have too many weird arguments and unnecessary drawbacks to be the endgame couple they’re made out to be. I ship Archie and Betty, myself.
Riverdale isn’t just a show – it’s an experience. Whether you want to cringe or get wrapped up in a riveting adventure of death and danger, this may be your series. It’s a crazy ride, and for whatever reason, I can’t prevent myself from getting on.