The CW’s “Riverdale” amps up nostalgic childhood characters

Archie Comics has been a part of the teenager culture since 1939. Readers from the generation before us probably remember the adventures of Archie Andrews and his friends. Although the characters from the comics are seemingly innocent, CW’s “Riverdale” uses the characters to mirror modern pop culture — one filled with drama and sex.

There isn’t much resemblance of the childhood comics in the show except for the town of Riverdale. The famous Pop’s Chocklit shop remains, and the names of the characters are sure to evoke connection and nostalgia. Sure, Veronica Lodge and Betty Cooper maintain their sweet personas while Cheryl Blossom is the bossy queen bee of Riverdale High. However, CW intentionally turn pure characters into sex symbols. The old schoolteacher Miss Grundy, for example, turns into a young and attractive music teacher in “Riverdale” and becomes one of teenage Archie’s many love interests. Additionally, Archie’s dad, Fred Andrews, played by Luke Perry from the 90s version of “90210,” evolves into an eligible bachelor rather than a dad with a beer belly and white hair.

While most of the characters are developed and play a role in the plot, the only one who doesn’t have a home is the main character Archie, played by KJ Apa. He bounces between storylines and lacks a proper place in any of them. Through Archie’s various love interests, none of which can stick with, he never seems to make good decisions. In the comics, it’s fun to follow Archie’s dating exploits, yet “Riverdale” creates an Archie that dabbles in everything but ultimately succeeds at nothing.

The breath of fresh air in the show is Veronica Lodge, played by Camila Mendes. Every time a rich girl moves into town, she picks up right where she left off: picking on the other students and making her mark in the social ranks. However, Veronica is quick to correct the mistakes she made before “Riverdale.” Although Veronica is kind, her generosity cannot be credited to solely her character. Everybody has a twisted past in “Riverdale,” and Veronica’s is having an imprisoned dad.

“Riverdale” develops characters thoroughly by gradually revealing their pasts as part of the storyline. The inciting incident for the series is the murder of town golden boy Jason Blossom, and the story gradually unfolds from there. Even though the murder is the main plot in the seemingly perfect town, the confines of the town’s perfection blur in and out of focus as drama unfolds. While the plot is cliché and mirrors many other teenage dramas, it’s reasonable as the show is hosted on CW, who is trying to appeal more to young adults that are sure to enjoy the cliché.

Of course, high school drama can’t be the only drama in the show. Every parent was also raised in Riverdale, whether it be on the North or South side of town. Thus, all the parents have ties to one another. There is the notorious battle between the venerated Blossoms and ever-present Coopers, a feud between the struggling FP Jones and traditionalist Fred Andrews and bad blood between nosy neighbor Alice Cooper and matriarch Hermione Lodge. The intricately crafted plot of “Riverdale” shines as all the rivalries between families and parents untangle into most of the kids working together to fight their parents, whose footsteps they refuse to follow in.

Although “Riverdale” tries to be original with its murder mystery plot, it unfortunately sinks into replayed cycles and familiar plotlines. Ultimately, the success of the show lies with the characters originated by Archie Comics. “Riverdale,” then, expands on the unwritten pasts of the beloved childhood friends with an overplayed plot, which inevitably appeals to modern pop interests.

Posted by Victoria Fong

Tori is looking forward to working on the Outlook this year as a Features editor. Having written a series on mental health last year, Tori is excited to continue exploring investigative journalism. Outside of the publications office, Tori enjoys finding new restaurants, is recently a Daenerys Targaryen fan, and can't stay away from the pool.

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