Riverdale 1×01 Review: This isn’t the Archie of Old

I’m not exactly sure what I expected out of Riverdale, but one thing I can say for sure is – it wasn’t this. And, at times during the Pilot, I had a hard time deciding if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

For now I’m going to go with good. Mostly because, if all I get out of this show is shots of Archie looking hot and saying little while the girls that are supposed to fighting over him actually bond, then that’s already a win in my book. And also because, visually, Riverdale is nothing short of astonishing. You could even say magical.

The mystery is also perhaps, maybe, a cool thing. It could go wrong really, really fast, but it could also be the thing this show needs to take it from maybe to a definite yes. Let’s just hope the writers are ready to throw stereotypes out the window and give us something different.

So, let’s talk Archie!




ARCHIE

Let’s be real, Archie is the weakest part of Riverdale, BY FAR. I mean, he’s hot. Incredibly hot. That’s about all he’s got going for him. Right now it’s hard to imagine why Betty and Veronica want to be with him. Or, fine, it’s not, but he’ll ruin it when he opens his mouth and has nothing to say, girls. Because he has nothing to say.

Generally, though, the main character being so flat and boring would be a deal-breaker. In this case, it isn’t, and that’s mostly because the mystery is set up nicely and the secondary characters are so interesting. We invest not because of Archie, but in spite of him. Archie’s a prop right now. A pretty prop. A reaaaal pretty prop.

But then again, this is episode one. Pilot. I refuse to judge a character by one episode, and considering how amazing some of the other aspects of the show are, Archie has nowhere to go but up. He’s a stereotype now, for sure, but if the girls see something in him, and the girls are so amazing, then there might be something there we’re not seeing yet.

BETTY

I always came down on the Betty side of this love triangle, back in the day, and I can’t say my opinion has changed, but mostly, after this episode, I just want Betty to go on being awesome, even if she has to do it be herself. She doesn’t need Archie – she doesn’t need any man. Ladies, your worth isn’t defined by a boy. That doesn’t mean you can’t want one, or have one, but never let everything you are by defined by who you’re with.

And I think that’s Betty’s journey this season, a journey towards loving herself, and realizing how much of BAMF she is and how her experiences, her life, her choices are all about her. For years and years Betty has been a role-model for little girls reading the comics, and this Betty seems poised to be another kind of role model – the kind we need in 2017. The kind who’s anything but perfect, but the kind who grows.

High-school is hard. Being a teenager is hard. Being a teenage girl can sometimes be hell. You make wrong choices, not once, but fifty times. But Betty is here to show us that you can go on a journey, you can become friends with your supposed rival, you can define your own worth. You can be your own superhero.

Go Betty. I’m rooting for you.

VERONICA

You know what I remember from the original comics? The feeling that if I liked Betty I needed to hate Veronica, because, of course, they were rivals. You can’t like both the girls. That’s just not allowed.

Now, as a grown-up, I wonder why. What made me think of that? What influenced me to come on the side of the guy in a love triangle, when I should have come down on the side of the girls – both of them. And, most importantly, I wonder what I can do, what we can do, to change the way little girls look at situations like this.

I think Veronica’s portrayal in Riverdale is a good place to start. Yes, she likes Archie. She makes no apologies for that. And yes, she’s very different from the girls in town, very different from Betty. But she’s not a bitch; she’s not there to put Betty down to get the guy. She’s there for her own reasons, and though we don’t know exactly what those are yet, I couldn’t be happier about a portrayal that makes both girls anything but a stereotype. Even if Archie is still sorta one.

Who cares about him? Thanks to the girls, I’m sold on this already.

THE REST

There’s little to say about the rest of the cast, since we didn’t see enough of them, but I assume this will change in subsequent episodes, and I’m really looking forward to it. I love me some Betty and Veronica, but I want to see more of the other badass woman, more of the mystery, and more of the family dynamics of these characters, because, boy, are there stories to be told there. Plenty of them.

Should you watch Riverdale? Yes. They’ve done enough for me to recommend them, and this is just episode one. Is the Pilot perfect? No, but Pilots seldom are. We’ll see next week if they’ve got what it takes to keep the good up and do away with the bad. I really, really hope they do.

We’ll be watching.

Other things to note:

  • Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the show runner, is the chief creative officer of Archie Comics. He’s also from Nicaraguan descent.
  • “You may be a stock character from a ’90s teen movie, but I’m not.” –Point Cheryl. Even if just for the delivery.
  • You know what’s not cool? A teacher sleeping with her student, that’s not cool. Archie’s hotness doesn’t make it any more cool, btw. This is a tired trope and the way TV keeps portraying it as something that teenagers should aspire to instead of something that’s not only wrong but ILLEGAL is problematic at best.

Riverdale airs Thursdays at 9/8c on the CW.

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