Disclaimer: The following article contains major spoilers for Riverdale.
Riverdale, noun; the classic hometown of the characters from the Archie comics, first published in 1942. Many people grew up reading the altogether sweet and wholesome comics, earning the franchise quite a bit of fame over the years.
But it’s the Netflix original series Riverdale that’s really drawing attention to the Archie characters these days. It certainly has my attention. Set in the modern day, Riverdale takes the beloved characters and fits them into a new storyline ripe with drama, mystery, and murder.
For anyone who has yet to finish both seasons of the show, I suggest you turn back now. There are bound to be spoilers ahead, as well as my own excitement for this captivating teen drama. You have been warned.
Riverdale sets itself apart from the original Archie comics by killing off Jason Blossom right in the first episode. To begin with, our main four characters- Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and of course Archie- are lead to believe that Jason died in a tragic rowboat accident. But when Kevin Keller discovers the body during a raunchy rendezvous, the bullet between Jason’s eyes implies something a lot more sinister.
It’s a bumpy ride for the gang from this point on as they try to solve the mystery of Jason’s death, and figure out how the Blossom’s murder is related to Betty’s missing sister, Polly. The first season is filled with enough twists and turns to leave you gasping as Betty, Jughead, Archie, and Veronica fight for an answer to their mystery, all while struggling with changes in their group dynamic.
That isn’t even to mention the gangs, mafia-esque crime families, accidental incest, or the overall grossness that is Miss Grundy.
Every episode keeps you wanting more, even when all of your questions have been answered. And then, just when you’re wondering how on Earth they’ll pull off a second season, actual-perfect-dad Fred Andrews takes a bullet for his son in the final minutes of the season.
That combined with Jughead’s acceptance of a Southside Serpent jacket had me counting down the minutes until the premiere of season two, and when it aired I was not disappointed.
The entire second season was nothing short of a rollercoaster ride of emotions. While Fred survives his attack, the town of Riverdale comes to learn that they have a new killer in their midst on a mission to “cleanse” them of sinners. Given Riverdale’s many complicated personalities, this really isn’t good news to the vast majority of the population.
Archie, precious boy that he is, takes up a personal vendetta against the killer known as the Black Hood after the attack against his father and the later murder of Miss Grundy. I certainly did not shed a tear over one of these incidents. I’ll let you guess which one.
Archie, being Archie, proceeds to spend the season making bad decisions. Like, a lot of bad decisions. The kind of bad decisions that involve antagonising known killers, alienating his dad, and willingly associating himself with the mafia. But hey, at least he didn’t sleep with a teacher this season. While of course we know his heart is in the right place, our boy really needs to learn to think things through for more than half a second before acting.
While Archie causes trouble for himself with school, his family, his love life, his friendships, and his future, Veronica struggles to keep her head above water as she dives into the suspicious business proceedings of the Lodge family.
Veronica had meant to guide her family towards less illegal practices by taking a more active role in the family business, but it isn’t long before she finds her parents aren’t as eager to change as she’d initially believed. Though she becomes unmoored for a time, Veronica Lodge inevitably makes a stand for herself and for what she thinks is right, even when it means going head to head against her father.
Jughead keeps himself busy by taking responsibility for the Southside Serpents, initially with the aim of keeping them under control while his dad is unable to. As he becomes more and more attached to the gang, however, he comes to realise that Hiram has been gradually taking over the Southside and wants to push his new family out from their side of town. Time and again Jughead risks his skin – literally- to help the Serpents, more than earning his crown by the time the last episode rolls around.
Despite the suffering withstood by Archie, Jughead, and Veronica, Betty could arguably be said to have had it the roughest over the course of the second season. She may not have endured as many beatings as the boys, or had to face the ugly side of the mafia world like Veronica, she did face frequent psychological torture at the hands of the Black Hood as well as battle her own internal demons. And when she discovered the real identity of the Black Hood- whoa. Anyone who’s had to deal with their own family drama can certainly sympathise.
Though not considered a main character, I do have to take some time out to talk about my current favourite: Cheryl Blossom.
Cheryl started out as a typical high school popular girl/bully, which made her difficult to like as a character right off the bat simply due to her treatment of her peers. But underneath the prickly exterior, there’s a girl with a lot of love in her heart who sometimes tries to do the right thing.
She certainly gets the gold medal for most character growth in the second season, as she turns downright self-sacrificing and works hard to help and protect the people she cares about. She also has quite a few moments that are just completely badass and she ends up with a cute Southsider girlfriend. Go Cheryl.
So much has happened already over the first two seasons of Riverdale, it’s difficult to believe that they can keep topping themselves. But the actors are all incredible, the incorporation of musical elements adds to the sensory experience- as well as giving me more renditions of songs to fall in love with- and the storyline refuses to fall into the realm of predictability.
All in all, the show Riverdale continues to be outstanding and I might just turn blue from holding my breath until the next season is released.