Feb 25, 2017

Riverdale: Archie's Pals and Gals Face Angst and Dark Secrets

You remember bucolic small-town Riverdale?  It's been a wholesome, innocent childhood haven for generations.  You can return after a year, or two years, or a decade, and still find Archie Andrews and his pals and gals (Betty, Veronica, Reggie, Jughead) failing algebra, hanging out at the soda shop, deciding who to ask to the big dance, with only occasional references to contemporary teen fads, and virtually no incursions of the angst, heartache, and turmoil of real teen life.

Recently there have been some experiments with adult themes, like a zombie apocalypse in Riverdale, or an adult Archie killed while saving his friend Kevin from an assassination attempt.  But the new Riverdale TV series.  WTF?

It's Dawson's Creek, Pretty Little Liars, Revenge, Twin Peaks, Peyton Place, and a whole lot more.  Sex, sleaze, dark secrets, and a lot of angst.

Archie (KJ Apa, above) is juggling the affections of Betty and Veronica (Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes), as usual, but he's also having a clandestine affair with his teacher, Ms. Grundy (Sarah Habel), who is not what she seems.

Chuck Clayton (Jordan Calloway, left) and his football-team friends slut-shame Veronica, so the girls torture him in a hot tub until he apologizes.

Meanwhile, Veronica's father is being indicted for embezzlement, and her mother is having an affair.

Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is estranged from his father, the leader of the Southside Serpents, a notorious motorcycle gang.  He's writing a turgid novel with lines like: "Innocent/guilty, good/ evil, life/ death."

Kevin (Casey Cott) is dating bad boy Joaquin (Rob Raco, left), a member of said motorcycle gang, plus fooling around with bisexual good guy Moose (Cody Kearsley), who has anger issues.  This won't end well.

And what about Archie's Mom, who returns after a long absence and has a mysterious meeting with her old friends, Veronica's mom and Mayor McCoy (Robin Givens), whose daughter is the lead singer of the pop group Josie and the Pussycats, who Archie...well, never mind.

And I haven't even gotten to Reggie (Ross Butler) and Dilton (Major Curda).

But the big mystery is the murder of Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines left), brother of It-Girl Cheryl Blossom.
Kevin and Moose discovered the body.

Archie, Ms. Grundy, and Dilton heard a gunshot.

Everyone seems to have a dark secret about what happened that night.  Everyone is a suspect.


At least there's a lot of diversity.  Black, Hispanic, and Asian characters.  Gay and bisexual characters.  Jughead might even come out as asexual, as he does in the current comic version.

And there's a lot of beefcake.  The younger Riverdalians are played by the most buffed mega-hunks that can squeeze into tight jeans, and there are some recognizeable heartthrobs of yesteryear among the older generation (Luke Perry, Skeet Ulrich, Lochlyn Munro).  Even Mr. Weatherbee is played by the hunky Peter James Bryant.

But how does any of this relate to the Archie comics that we grew up with?

Where's bucolic, small-town Riverdale?

Where's the fun?

See also: More Riverdale Beefcake

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