Reviews: Riverdale

The First Episode is My Last Episode

Iíve never read an Archie comic and have only the most superficial understanding of them. So youíll have to forgive my presumption that Archie is some boyís 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 Iím 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 donít feel comfortable that these people are half my age.

The show isnít 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 ďstatutory rapeĒ ever uttered. Outside of awkwardly romanticised paedophilia, Rivervale hasnít anything new to show us. Every character is a lazy 90s clichť, 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 doesnít help that the show even tries to hang a lampshade on it, with the bitch and the gay pointing out how clichťd 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 donít know anything about the boy is who went missing as a character, but his sister is the megabitch cheerleader so we donít care. I donít think Iíll stay to see the mystery resolved. I donít 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.

Looking forward to the ride.

Look. I can already tell that this is not going to be the greatest show ever. It's not the most original or most inspired, and it's probably not gonna win any Emmys. I have definite issues with a few aspects of the plot (*cough* Miss Grundy *cough* queerbaiting *cough* stereotyping *cough* *cough* *cough*).

But I still have the whole season set up to record.

Part of it is that I did grow up reading these comics. I know these characters like the back of my hand, and it's fun to see them in a dramatic/trying-too-hard-to-be-dramatic environment. Plus, who doesn't like a murder mystery? The cast is also excellent. I have some issues with the script, but the actors themselves are doing great, at least so far. And I also really appreciate casting POC as traditionally white characters. Yay, diversity!

Overall, going solely off the pilot, this isn't a show for when you want to think too hard. This is a show for when you want some indulgent entertainment with some pretty visuals and pretty people to look at while you're at it. I doubt this show will blow my mind, but I think I'll enjoy what it has to offer.