Don’t fret if you aren’t familiar with the original material that inspired the CW’s latest drama Riverdale.
Based loosely on the Archie comics that spanned the 1940s, 50s, and 60s in a cutesy way that have since shifted into more of a zombie-killer vibe, the show meshes modern day teen life with mystery. We’ve still got an Archie (KJ Apa)—who also happens to look a lot like a redheaded Nate Buzolic from the network’s other show The Originals—but he’s thrown into trying to juggle his own secrets in a town that only looks perfect.
The show felt like Pretty Little Liars at first. Quaint town? Check. Characters with secrets? Check. Brooding characters? Check. Overprotective and demanding parents? Check.
Oh, and a death? Check.
Right off the bat, the viewer is thrown into a peculiar event. Star quarterback Jason goes missing over the summer and is assumed dead. His twin sister Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) seems both disturbed and unaffected at the same time, but it’s hard to gauge her emotions when she’s too busy bullying poor innocent Betty (Lili Reinhart) in the true cheerleader-picks-on-quiet-girl cliché.
Then enter the mysterious newcomer Veronica (Camila Mendes) who tries to be nice but somehow still ends up violating major Girl Code after she kisses Archie at a party. Here it seemed she and Betty were going to become good friends, bonding over their hatred for Queen Bee Cheryl. Nope. Poor Betty gets friend zoned so hard by Archie it’s cringeworthy. It’s okay, Betty. We’ve all been there at some point.
It’s not like Archie is totally fine with hurting Betty’s feelings. His situation is much more complicated. On top of being offered Jason’s old number on the football team, he’s trying to pursue music with help from his high school music teacher Ms. Grundy (Sarah Habel). Oh, and they also canoodled over the summer. Totally inappropriate. Totally scandalous.
Yet what makes Riverdale so refreshing for this network in particular is that it isn’t supernatural or superhero based. There are no vampires, witches, or metahumans here. This show doesn’t need fancy special effects or some otherworldly entity to make it alluring and exciting. Most of the characters introduced are complex as it is. With the CW having become the home for some of the more popular hero shows like The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow, this addition to its queue is a breath of life.
As far as midseason series premieres go, this one hits the mark just right with introductions to characters and plots. It’s fun, dark, sexy, and entertaining.
Whether it stays that way, well, only time will tell.