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CW's 'Riverdale' Infuses New Life Into the Archie Comic

Your favorite redhead is there, along with Betty, Veronica, and Jughead. But there are also secrets, lies, murder, and a bunch of teenage angst on the TV reboot.

by Avital Norman Nathman

Reboots have long been Hollywood's bread and butter, and a lot of the time they probably should have left untouched. But once in a long while, a reboot comes together in a way that blows the original out of the water. That's what happened with my newest obsession: Riverdale, the CW's version of the Archie comic series. Yes, your favorite redhead is there, along with the rest of the gang (Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and more), but there are also secrets, lies, murder, and a bunch of teenage angst. This is the CW, after all. So why exactly should you watch?

Nostalgia

I'm in my late thirties and grew up reading Archie comic books, so the series holds a piece of my heart. I remember sitting in my bed and devouring the comics, rereading my favorites over and over. Who wouldn't have wanted to grab a milkshake with the gang down at Pop's? It was fun, bubblegum pop and Riverdale hooked me in just to see what this new iteration would be like.

Fresh Narratives

The CW's take on Archie and the gang includes starting the show off with the murder of Jason Blossom, Kevin Keller (a gay character who appeared in later comics) making out with football jock Moose, the knowledge that Betty has an older sister that suffered a breakdown, the fact that Archie is totally jacked, the tackling of slut-shaming, and the news that Ms. Grundy—definitely not the old crone portrayed in the comics—is having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student. In other words, the whole shebang is way more dark and dangerous than the comics.

Diversity

I don't think anyone is under the impression that the original Archie was super multicultural. But the CW version has managed to update the series by bringing in more actors of color. Veronica (and her mother) are Latina, Reggie is Asian, Josie and the Pussycats are all black. The mayor of Riverdale is also black (she's also Josie's mother, but hopefully not all the black residents of Riverdale will be related. Baby steps?). The show is already light years ahead of the comic as far as diversity goes, and it’s all the better for it.  

Betty Gets Dark

No more goody two-shoes here! Betty Cooper has many more layers than she did in the comics. In the CW's version, Betty has a sister who is living elsewhere because of something to do with Jason Blossom, and a mother who is intensely controlling and slightly unhinged. Betty herself gets a bit too into character when she and Veronica get revenge on a football player that treats the young women he dates with zero respect. It will definitely be interesting to see this dark arc play out.

Barb

Are you a Stranger Things fanatic? Did you love Barb? Are you still mourning her demise, too? Then Riverdale is for you! Shannon Purser (the actress who played Barb) is back as yet another high school student, this time playing Riverdale's Ethel Muggs. She's only been featured in one episode thus far, so I guess the writers could still kill her off at any moment… just don’t expect any Demogorgons.

Luke Perry

Do I actually need to explain this one? Really? Okay. IT'S LUKE PERRY. I mean. Luke Perry plays Archie's dad, and I can't remember Fred Andrews ever being this hunk-worthy in the comics. Sure, the showrunners might be playing into that nostalgia factor, popping Dylan McKay in to get all us ‘90s kids to watch, but you know what? I am OK with that and completely here for papa Andrews.

'Riverdale' airs on the CW, Thursday at 9/8c


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Avital Norman Nathman is a freelance writer and professional feminist killjoy. Her work has been featured in Bitch Magazine, Cosmopolitan, The New York Times, The Frisky, SheKnows, CNN, and more. Follow her on Twitter @TheMamafesto



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