For those who remember a teenage character with a freckled face and an orange bush for hair, Riverdale’s Archie Andrews will come off as a complete surprise – yes a surprise not a shock. And not just that one character, the whole rebooted version of Archie Comics will have readers of one of the most loved teen comic series cry ‘Whoa!’
Unlike the comics, Riverdale isn’t all sunshine – it’s gloomy and dark if anything. The CW picked up the ripe plot of college love and variety of characters, splashed it with murder, mystery and intrigue. At first look, it seems more like a desperate attempt to be the next ‘Twilight’ sans the vampires, werewolves and terrible acting. Interestingly enough, though the makers had pre-made characters, they chose to create them from the scratch building it on compelling background stories, while their trademark features from the original are seen for a second or two. For example, Jughead in the TV series isn’t a burger hogging, lazy teen, but a complex loner and an active blogger. However, he does drop hints here and there about his appetite like in one episode he says, “You never have to ask me if I’m hungry.” This would cater to those who expected something more than the single dimension plotline.
Let’s break down its cast:
Archie Andrews: Orange-head Archie played by dark brown-haired KJ Apa (Fair warning: You’ll see through the weirdness of his hair colour from the very moment you set eyes on him). The clumsy teen of the comics is now a no-freckles hottie with six-pack abs, and it makes you feel that each ab is holding a different shade of his personality.
Betty Cooper: Lili Reinhart has fit the bill perfectly as the girl-next-door, who goes from a teen longing for Archie to an investigative journalist brushing the dark extremities of the world and herself. It doesn’t take long for the audience to understand that behind that smiling and sweet face, there is a dark beast, which if unleashed will create havoc.
Veronica Lodge: Played by Camila Mendes, Ronnie is a rich spoilt brat who has an on-and-off affair with Archie. But that’s where the similarity ends. In the dark version of the Riverdale, Veronica is actually a kind person who wants to shed her old and evil self after falling from graces due to her father’s misdoings.
Jughead Jones: This is the character that will take everyone by surprise. Cole Sprouse has been selected to play this troubled, complex and unprivileged role, who is also the narrator of the show. Trying to remain hidden, he chronicles the mysteries of Riverdale and ends up having a romantic pairing with Betty and in the middle of everything.
Now that we are done with the actual premise and characters of the show. Let’s talk about what’s wrong with it. Though it is presented as a small town with its residents being middle-class families, the characters look too rich to be classified as economy class. And, why the hell is everyone so handsome and perfect as if the first criteria to be the citizen of Riverdale is to be good-looking. The only brightness in the dingy show is the beauty that these characters transmit. Also, the show never does justice to the crucial issues that it picks up such as slut-shaming, teen pregnancy and the racial bias. Kevin Keller, the only and openly gay student, has an incomplete and improperly written character. All of these key plotlines have been handled in a shallow and immature manner.
The only course it stays true to is the plot that focusses on a murder mystery, which is used as a basis to open up different and – sometimes – unexpected layers of each character. The depth that each twist and dimension offer to the main four characters will pacify the hunger of old-school comic readers, who would’ve wanted more of their favourite characters. But for the newer generation, it is uncertain if they’ll fall for the show like we did for Archie Comics.