If you’ve clicked on this post expecting some drivel about which Riverdale couples I ship and how attractive Cole Sprouse is (you’re not wrong, he is), you should close the tab you’re reading this on right now. Riverdale isn’t a fantastic bit of telly because it appeals to teenage girls. Yes, a lot of its audience are teenage girls. I am technically, for the next year, still sort of a teenage girl. However, there’s a lot more to Riverdale than another basic teen TV show. I felt the best way to summarise my feelings on what is easily one of my new favourite shows is in blog post form; so sit back and enjoy!
This show has been criticised a bit for pushing its POC cast members to the side, and for not making Jughead asexual, but I (mostly) disagree with these criticisms. I’d have loved to have seen an asexual Jughead, but, would the current character of Jughead, someone who is openly an outcast and calls himself a “weirdo” actually be that great at representing the asexual community? It’s not my place to say, but I would personally prefer to see characters that aren’t at risk of reinforcing tired stereotypes represent the LGBT+ community. (If you’re asexual and feel differently please, please let me know in the comments! Your voices are so important in this discussion!)
As for POC characters in Riverdale, again, I’m under-qualified to really comment, being a white female. But, looking at a lot of other shows of the same genre, I think Riverdale is doing a pretty damn good job at creating interesting, unique and honest POC characters. Creating an all black Josie & The Pussycats was a decision that’s pissed off a lot of boring old Archie comics fans (seriously, if you haven’t seen them trolling Twitter you’re very lucky!), but Riverdale did it anyway, and they did it well. That being said, I’m severely hoping season 2 let’s us see a lot more of it’s POC cast. In 12 episodes, it is difficult to give every minor character a major backstory, but given that season 2 has a confirmed 22 episodes, and a new bisexual WOC being introduced, I’m very much hoping the show’s minor cast members will be given more of an opportunity to shine. (Again, please leave me a comment if you disagree! Discussing these things is important and makes a difference!)
The Riverdale cast is full of talent, even if that might not be obvious yet
Bad acting is one of the biggest criticisms of teen shows, and Riverdale has been no exception. And yes, I agree that some of the performances this season were a little uncomfortable, wooden, and generally a bit cringe. It would be very foolish to judge an entire show based on some slightly awkward scenes. Whilst a lot of people found Cole Sprouse’s “I’m a weirdo” speech genuinely horrific to watch (I personally blame bad scripting for that one, sorry writers room, but what were you thinking?!) it’s unfair to brand him a terrible actor. His narration for the series is excellent, and his dedication to portraying the complexity of Jughead’s character is also highly commendable.
Madeline Petsch as Cheryl Blossom is also painfully overlooked when acting on Riverdale is discussed. Seriously, have you watched this show? Cheryl is easily the best love-to-hate/hate-to-love character I’ve seen in years, and Petsch is phenomenal at showing her arrogance and vulnerability in the same scene. Her body language and facial expressions are so natural, despite Cheryl being such a melodramatic character. To say the cast of Riverdale can’t act is an injustice. I could write separate paragraphs about each actor, but that would be a very long post.
I’m not a cinematography expert, but I like to think I know a bit about what makes a shot look good, and Riverdale is actually stunning to watch. Even if you hate every character and every storyline this show has to offer, you simply cannot deny the creativity behind the making of this show. Archie Comics have always been very peppy, upbeat and colourful, so to translate that into a moody, dark TV show like Riverdale without losing the same spark and intrigue of the comics is not an easy task, but it’s done very well.
The colours on this show are especially amazing; watch an episode now and pay attention to the way characters have colours attached to them, how the colours may appear brighter or darker depending on the context of the scene, or how different colours are used to depict different characteristics and emotions. Cheryl’s white dress and striking red lipstick when she is found at Sweetwater River after Jason’s disappearance; a soaked white representing the innocence of Riverdale being dampened and ruined, and the red foreshadowing Jason’s gruesome end. Obviously, red is Cheryl’s signature colour, but it’s matches her beautifully. She is fiery, dangerous, and her family is shrowded in death and disaster for the entire season. Betty’s pastel pinks contrasting with Veronica’s dark wardrobe, showing the contrast in Betty’s bubbly, perky and mostly innocent personality versus Veronica’s mysterious past and troubled family. Jughead’s wardrobe being mostly blue and black, which is pretty self explanatory for such a moody character.
Riverdale is a beautiful TV show, and I refuse to believe it’s all a happy accident.
The growing anger towards the Southside Serpents throughout the season should not be passed off as a basic storyline. We are going to get a lot more of this in season 2, and it will reflect a lot of the classism and social injustices we see in everyday life. We’ll see Jughead, a much loved character, be torn between his southside roots and his Riverdale friends, as tensions grow between the two groups. The class divide is very existent in today’s society, whether or not you want to accept it. Jughead stands as the mediator; he is equal parts southside and Riverdale – he is technically an outcast from both groups because he doesn’t completely belong to either.
Statory rape, although criticised for being made into a storyline, is also handled on this show a lot better than others. It is not normalised or romanticised, and Grundy is not a likeable character; for a lot of the shots of her she is made to seem predatory and sinister, and when her relationship with Archie is exposed, she is forced to leave town, she is frowned upon and threatened with prison because that is where she belongs. Sure, not an ideal ending (seriously, #GrundyInPrison in season 2 please?!) but the situation itself is handled much better and is made to seem a lot more criminal than in other shows aimed at a teen audience.
Riverdale is here to stay
Like it or not, Riverdale isn’t going to go anywhere. It’s second season will be longer and more complex and hopefully will tackle some important problems raised by fans and non-fans of the show. I’m unapologetically in the former of those two groups; my brand new Riverdale poster hanging above me as I write this post.
Are you a Riverdale fan? Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts on the show, and all the exciting announcements made at SDCC this weekend! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and like my Facebook page! Also follow me on bloglovin‘ to be the first to know about new blog posts!