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Riverdale Pilot Review

"From Someone Who’s Never Read Archie Comics"

I’m gonna start this out by saying I have never read Archie Comics and therefor am completely uneducated with this universe. The only thing I knew going into Riverdale was that it’s about high school students named Archie, Veronica, Betty, and Jughead. I assumed there was a love triangle in there somewhere and I had an idea as to what they generally looked like in the comics. So if you are a huge Archie fan, you might hate me after reading this, but I hope you at least find some humor in my ignorance.

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The main reason I decided to watch Riverdale is because it’s a teen drama. It’s very rare for me to find a teen drama that I don’t like. I love all the tropes and I never get sick of them. This is just my genre.

The pilot episode opens with a little summary of what has happened prior to the pilot to help get us caught up to speed. The school year is about it start, but everyone in town is still focused on a tragedy that took place over summer. Twin siblings, Cheryl and Jason Blossom, took a canoe out on the river and one of them never returned. According to Cheryl, she dropped a glove in the water and Jason reached for it, tipping the boat. (I guess Riverdale doesn’t have the mentally scaring swim class I had in my high school). Even though they looked for Jason’s body, he was never found so they “buried an empty coffin.”

Another major event that happened over summer is the fact that Archie “got hot,” which we find out when we are introduced to Betty Cooper. Betty is your average (and literal) girl-next-door. She’s always been friends with Archie and she’s always wanted to BE with Archie. You know the type. She’s in her room talking about Archie with her other BFF, Kevin Keller (the show’s gay character). He tells her this is her year to get with Archie. After he sees Archie shirtless through the window he says, “He’s got abs now. Six more reasons for you to take that ginger bull by the horns tonight.”

Riverdale -- Image Number: RVD_KeyArt_1.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Camila Mendes as Veronica, Lili Reinhart as Betty, Ashleigh Murray as Josie, Cole Sprouse as Jughead, Madelaine Petsch as Cheryl and KJ Apa as Archie -- Photo: The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved.

Betty meets up with Archie and they head to the local diner, because it’s not a teen drama without a place to hang out at all hours of the day. Just when Betty is about to confess her feelings, Veronica makes her big entrance as the new girl in town. Archie can’t help but stare, but it also might be the fact that Veronica is wearing an amazing cap, which I now need.

She introduces herself and drops her first pop culture reference with this gem, “I’m Breakfast at Tiffany’s but this place is strictly In Cold Blood.” While I doubt any teenager actually knows those references, I’m here for it. Unfortunately (or fortunately for Betty) Veronica doesn’t stay long, but Betty’s already lost her courage to talk to Archie about her feelings.

At school the next day, Betty shows Veronica around since she’s on the school’s welcome committee, because of course she is. Maybe my school was weird, but I genuinely think this is a thing that only exists on TV shows and films. Any new kid is left to fend for themselves in the real world. Betty and Veronica seem to be getting along until Kevin rudely brings up Veronica’s dad, who is going through some financial issues, to put it lightly. Veronica and her mom, Hermione, moved to Riverdale to escape the scandal, because Riverdale is where Hermione grew up. I have a feeling this is going to lead to drama with the parents. It seems like one of those town where no one ever leaves and it is revealed later that Archie’s dad (the original 90210‘s Luke Perry) dated Veronica’s mom.

Veronica and Betty quickly become friends and even try out for the cheerleading squad, where they stage an obnoxious kiss. The cheer captain just happens to be Cheryl Blossom and she is not impressed, and neither was I. But I think the whole point of the scene was to get that out of the way, maybe? I hope they keep the queer-baiting at a minimum here. In the end they both make the squad, only because Veronica says they can’t have her without Betty. Her quick loyalty might seem strange, but Veronica explains that she was a bit of a mean girl at her old school and she’s trying to turn over a new leaf.

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Veronica even convinces Betty to ask Archie to the big back-to-school dance, even though she likes him too. Betty ends up inviting Archie but includes Veronica in the invite, which was a weird choice, but he says yes. They all go to the dance where Betty again tries to confess her feelings, but Archie just tries to brush it off. The after party is hosted by Cheryl Blossom, who rigs a game of seven minutes in heaven to put Veronica and Archie together. They can’t resist and end up kissing, which Veronica feels immediately guilty about. Archie apologizes to Betty and reveals that he’s just not that into her and she’s way too good for him. Will this leave the door open for Veronica to make another move or will she be a better friend to Betty from now on?

At the very end, just as our stereotypical gay best friend Kevin is about to go skinny dipping with another young man named Moose (that may or may not be his given name), the duo find a dead body flooding in the river. It’s non other than Jason Blossom… with a bullet in his head. Cue the murder mystery portion of our programming.


Final Thoughts:

– Overall I loved the pilot. It was intriguing and had the perfect balance of mystery and teen soap.
– All the teen characters are fascinating, but Veronica definitely stands out. She just might be the next (maybe nicer) Blair Waldorf.
– The look of the show is fantastic. I love the Twin Peaks vibes combined with the teen angst.
-There was a TON of background information in this first episode, but somehow it managed to not be overwhelming.
– Some other information worth mentioning is that Archie got down and dirty with one of the high school teachers over the summer and they might have heard a gunshot the day Jason went missing
– Josie and the Pussycats also appeared in this episode, which I embarrassingly didn’t know was part of the Archie universe.
– I also heard that K.J. Apa was partially chosen to play Archie because of he could play the guitar and sing, so I’m excited to see that in future episodes.
– I should also mention that Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is the narrator here and is apparently writing a novel about the happenings in Riverdale and he doesn’t seem to be close friends with Archie anymore. (XOXO Jughead)
– It should also be noted that the musical selections on this show are perfect.
– I will definitely be continuing with this series. Will you?

Rating
9.0
Pros
  • Veronica's pop culture references
  • Kevin's sassiness
  • The whole look and feel of the show is the perfect combination of soapy and mystery.
  • Clever dialogue
Cons
  • Some stereotypical storylines (student/teacher romance)

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