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Reviews Comments: The First Episode is My Last Episode Riverdale episode/issue review by maninahat

I’ve never read an Archie comic and have only the most superficial understanding of them. So you’ll have to forgive my presumption that Archie is some boy’s puerile harem wank fantasy. In my defence, that is precisely what the new Netflix adaptation Riverdale feels like. Our first episode introduces us to Archie, a handsome, great at everything, sensitive and compassionate guy who has at least three gorgeous women going after him before the show has even got going.

I have some difficulty watching these sorts of high school shows, in that I have no idea whether I’m allowed to be sexually attracted to the characters. On one hand, they are invariably played by twenty something swimsuit models and filmed in the most gratuitous fanservicey, gazey way possible. On the other hand, they are meant to be depicting 15 year olds, and I don’t feel comfortable that these people are half my age.

The show isn’t uncomfortable about this conflict at all. Archie is already dating his music teacher, and the show finds it so terribly romantic that not once are the words “statutory rape” ever uttered. Outside of awkwardly romanticised paedophilia, Rivervale hasn’t anything new to show us. Every character is a lazy 90s cliché, including the megabitch lead cheerleader, the overbearing father who wants the son in his family business, the sassy black girls who brush off the honkys, and the flamboyantly gay best friend. It doesn’t help that the show even tries to hang a lampshade on it, with the bitch and the gay pointing out how clichéd the other is. Congratulations show! Thanks for letting us know you do lazy stereotypes on purpose. If there is an intention to subvert these archetypes later, they certainly aren\'t giving any clue of that in the first episode.

On top of the generic highschool drama, there is also a surprisingly uninvolved missing person plot thread. We don’t know anything about the missing boy as a character, but his sister is the megabitch cheerleader so we don’t care. I don’t think I’ll stay to see the mystery resolved. I don’t know how good a reflection of the comics Riverdale is, but fans and newcomers alike will probably be disappointed by this bland, unoriginal and poorly conceived show.

Comments

  • Cindylover1969
  • 5th Feb 17
"I’ve never read an Archie comic and have only the most superficial understanding of them. So you’ll have to forgive my presumption that Archie is some boy’s puerile harem wank fantasy."

No, I won't forgive your presumption - because you could have just done a little research into the comics beforehand. Or even read the comics' entry on this Wiki. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Franchise/ArchieComics But that would have required you to not be lazy. (the series may not be as smart as it thinks it is, but it's still a lot smarter than you). Oh, the show has in fact noted the whole "student/teacher relationship - bad" thing - and did so in the last episode.
  • maninahat
  • 5th Feb 17
How would researching the comics make the tv show any less bad?
  • SpectralTime
  • 5th Feb 17
...Man, are you seriously trying to argue his opinion is invalid because he\'s not a fan of the series it\'s adapting? Even if it were some sort of nostalgia-laden love-letter to fans of the franchise, and not just Yet Another Sexed Up WB Teen Drama Adaptation, how on Earth would the opinion of someone choosing to go in blind be invalid by his decision to do so? And then you try to argue that his complaint about an obvious problem point not being addressed is invalid because they mention it in the last episode?

Way to make yourself look a hell of a lot dumber than a man in a hat.
  • jakobitis
  • 6th Feb 17
Assuming the worst possible view of something without any actual knowledge of that thing isn\'t particularly smart either. Granted that the show might be everything that\'s claimed but using the show to cast judgment on the comic is pretty disingenuous.
  • SpectralTime
  • 6th Feb 17
Eh, fair enough. I kinda expect vaguely non-representative first-paragraphs from him after his Sense 8 review opened with a whole paragraph patting himself on the back for not being weirded out by the full-frontal male nudity, but I guess I can see how someone might take offense at his jab at the original comic.
  • maninahat
  • 7th Feb 17
I'm not sure you caught the point I was trying to make with Sense 8.
  • Cindylover1969
  • 12th Feb 17
No, I\'m trying to argue that he\'s an idiot. And those last few comments aren\'t doing anything to change my opinion. But they are doing a lot to back it up, so thanks for that. And also, watching a series for review purposes and condemning it after one episode is stupid - as is delaring it to be heaven-sent after one episode, really. Three or four episodes in is another matter...
  • Skylite
  • 26th Feb 17
They didn\'t address the ephebophilia in the first episode, but they did in the fourth. It\'s made out as romantic only from Archie\'s point of view. It\'s made out as troubling and wrong from Betty\'s POV when she finds out, unrequited crush aside. The adults also find it problematic. While they never quite find the guts to say that Grundy (who was not Grundy but had stolen that identity) was a predator, they strongly implied it.

As for whether or not the OP can be forgiven for not doing the research — Riverdale is supposed to be a more dark and dramatic take on the original lighthearted and ultra-wholesome Archie Comics, tilting it a little more toward Twin Peaks than sweet and innocent. If you had done the tiniest bit of research you would have at least known about Jason Blossom. You also would have realized the show was going for something diffferent.

  • maninahat
  • 27th Feb 17
@Cindylover 1969

I make it quite clear that I am reviewing the first episode only. I admit it is possible for series to get better after a rocky start, however I expect a first episode to give me enough to make me stay for the whole series. It didn't. With some shows, it takes me longer to form an opinion about it (I had to watch all of the first season of Empire before coming to a conclusion), and some it takes no time at all. I don't think this is different from how anyone else watches television.
  • iamconstantine
  • 1st Mar 17
I disagree with the \"you have to know everything about the source material to appreciate the show\" idea, but I do kind of think that the first episode doesn\'t speak much to the series\' overall quality. That is not to say, of course, that your opinion is wrong—really, if I ever seem to imply that, please forgive me—but I personally believe the series gets MUCH better after the first episode.

Archie isn\'t really the \"Harem Fantasy Hero\", or at least, he\'s not once the story picks up. Yes, he gets a few girls\' attention, but it\'s handled with grace, in my opinion. He and Betty manage to settle things and become friends (there\'s no constant underlying \"But I was in love with him!!!\" problem after they work things out, thank goodness), he and Veronica move on from the kiss they have and are now building chemistry. It\'s not a constant tug-of-war over who gets Archie.

And as someone above said, the thing between him and Grundy is NOT supposed to be romantic. The show doesn\'t mean to imply that what they have is just a star-crossed affair, as every other character in the show, and later things we find out about Grundy, all point out that what they have is very wrong. The reason it came off as romantic at first was because we only saw it from Archie\'s lovestruck point of view—once other characters find out, it\'s clearly not some daydream anymore.

And yeah, the characters ARE stereotypes, and although the first episode doesn\'t show it, they DO get more characterization as the show goes on. The b*tchy cheerleader starts to defrost and grow a heart, the overbearing father becomes more open-minded with each episode once he realizes how stressed-out his son is, and although they don\'t get a LOT of screentime, the snobby band members also defrost a bit, and the one who blew off Archie gets on better terms with him after they talk a bit. I will admit that Kevin still kind of plays into the \"flamboyant gay best friend\" stereotype and hasn\'t branched out very much yet, but since he\'s a minor character, I think that\'s a minor fault in the show and not a very big problem.

The plotline is actually supposed to revolve around the missing person thread—the reason it\'s not as big of a deal in the first episode, but is in later episodes, is because as the investigation continues, it becomes clearer that there\'s a lot more to what happened. It gets a lot more serious as characters realize how they might be related to the case, which comes to the spotlight when Jughead and Betty start an official investigation.

Again, I\'m really not meaning to say that your opinion is wrong, and I am so, so sorry if I come off as saying that. The show definitely is not without problems, but I don\'t think the first episode really speaks to the quality of it. It gets much better from episode 2 and onwards.
  • cake1
  • 21st Mar 17
The whole atmosphere of Riverdale in my opinion seems really ill fitting for the Archie comics- the "edgy" teen drama format isn't anything new, and it's missing a lot of the good naturedness and humor that gave the classics their charm. It was especially weird since there had been a recent modernization of that universe, http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/ComicBook/ArchieComics2015 , that did succeed in blending comedy and drama while staying true to the original characters. I am honestly stumped why the producers didn't just follow a similar route and make it a sitcom-style tv show instead, which might have been more popular anyway.

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