Something to add to your must watch list this month is the new teen murder mystery Riverdale. The setting of a dark, American suburbia of the same name, focusses on an ensemble cast of small town teens deep in lies, secrets, problems and the murder of Jason Blossom.
With the popularity of shows such as Stranger Things and the reboot of Twin Peaks, its no surprise that tv networks have took on the challenge of recreating the murder mystery genre. Riverdale is no doubt similar to these, particularly with its use of settings like ‘Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe’ and the ‘Twilight Drive-in’ which is surrounded by eery forests and mountainous terrain, its almost like there is no escape for the people of Riverdale. However this programme originates from a much lighter source material called Archie Comics, explaining the 1950s look and Happy Days character aura. Don’t dismiss the show too quickly because of this. Even though the characters look like their comic book relations and have the same name, the story line is far from the original, as Hermione Lodge reminds us in the show “The old Riverdale is dying.”
“Even though the characters look like their comic book relations and have the same name, the story line is far from the original”
Archie Andrews, the main protagonist doesn’t seem to be as involved with ‘the gang’ as it may seem from the first episode. He is more interested in his own world of problems, whether that be his music or his love affair with Miss Grundy. Therefore, the relationships between him and the other characters seem a bit forced at times. Betty and Veronica, who are most improved from the comics become less about fighting over Archie after the first episode and more about discovering who murdered the school ‘jock’. The two girls bring the character of Jughead (Cole Sprouse) more into the fold by Betty asking him to write for the school paper, otherwise in the first couple episodes he was just seen as the narrator of the programme and observing the others while writing his crime novel. Its a welcome return to television for this Sprouse brother, who I haven’t seen since The Suite Life, he definitely takes on this darker role well, giving Jughead a melancholic spin. With in-creasing development to his role I expect that he will be central to discovering the Blossom murderer.
“I praise the show for the increased character development of openly gay characters such as Kevin Keller”
With every American teen show like this you have your traditional ‘mean girl’, in this case it is manipulative Cheryl Blossom, sister of the murdered ‘jock’. The role is played like the audience should feel sorry for her and thats why she is so mean. However because Cheryl is nasty to more sweet characters like Betty, its hard to root for the discovery of her brothers murderer, unless the character of Jason is given more backstory in the upcoming episodes. Despite this I praise the show for the increased character development of openly gay characters such as Kevin Keller, who unlike Cheryl, avoids the stereotypical plot lines of previous network teen shows like 90210.
“The narrative is a simple mystery but it is the ensemble cast which makes it [compelling]”
Riverdale is a good show. The narrative is a simple mystery but it is the ensemble cast which makes it more compelling to watch again. Each with their own weave of lies to cope with, its difficult not to wonder who or what will be discovered next, it demonstrates that even ‘the girl-next-door’ can have her secrets.