I don’t have a lot of time to write about this today but I really enjoyed Riverdale, the new CW show based on Archie comics. Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has put together a witty and intrguing homage to Twin Peaks – which was in its own way a reinvention of wholesome suburban teen melodrama as portrayed in Archie comics.
The pop culture references were amazing and clever, even if real teens probably don’t reference Mad Man quite so much – and the cast was outstanding, including 90s icons Luke Perry and Madchen Amick in parent roles. I really liked Lilli Reinhart as Betty, (Camila Mendes as Veronica was no slouch but I liked Betty better). KJ Apa truly lived up to the “Archie got hot!” line. And Casey Kott as Kevin Keller was such a great character – a gay confidant to the gang is just watch Archie needed all these years. The all–black Josie and the Pussycats was also a jolt of modernity.
But the best was Cole Sprouse as a sinister, acerbic Jughead. That’s right, I just wrote sinister, acerbic Jughead! And I loved it.
Riverdale shows that comic book TV can be inventive and push the boundaries of the source material. The original Archie comics mythology is so indelible that a reinvention like this – Archie and Miss Grundy making out in a car! Kevin Keller and Moose about to go skinny dipping in a journey of sexual exploration! – just makes it stronger. And just in case you didn’t get that this is meta television, all the episodes have classic movie titles, including episode 1’s “The River’s Edge,” #2’s “A Touch of Evil” and on to Body Double and The Last Picture Show.
Riverdale does for Archie tv shows what Alan Moore did for superhero comics, and it’s about time.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.