‘Riverdale’ weaves together a dark, dramatic plot in pilot episode

If there are two things I love, it’s murder mysteries and cliché high school dramas. So naturally, “Riverdale” appealed to me immediately. The pilot managed to do a perfect job of taking those two things and smashing them together to form one big, dark teen drama conglomerate. 

“Riverdale” follows beloved characters from the American comics “Archie” like Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Jughead Jones and Josie and the Pussycats. Their small town of Riverdale—stereotypically small, down to the Chocolate Shoppe and football players in their letterman jackets—is shaken by the death of Jason Blossom, who for some unaddressed reason was in a rowboat with his suspicious-looking twin sister when he went missing. 

At first glance, the time frame of the show is a little shaky. The show begins with a mysterious montage of the town with some Lana Del Rey-esque song playing to capture the dark mood of the show, but it doesn’t establish a time period. It shows vintage cars, paperboys on their route, “Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe” and a lack of diversity, which all point to a dated time period. But then we’re jarred into the 21st century with Macbooks and sentences like “queen-bae” and “post-James Franco world.” Though the show struggles to visually nail down the setting, it is beautifully made. It has remnants of David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” scattered throughout with a fantastic soundtrack to accompany it. The entire show looks and sounds like it belongs on someone’s aesthetic Tumblr blog—with everyone’s favorite hot, sad-boy Cole Sprouse as an added bonus. 

I’m not very knowledgable about the Archie fandom or the history of the comics, but the one thing I do know is that there are a whole lot of people who ship Veronica and Betty, and the show makes sure to grab that section of the fan base in the pilot. Despite no sexual chemistry between the actresses, the showrunners throw in a kiss—which I can confidently predict will never be brought up again—just for the hell of it. The line that follows the kiss pretty much sums it up, “Check your sell-by date ladies, faux lesbian kissing hasn’t been taboo since 1994.” If the show isn’t going to take the Veronica/Betty ship seriously, they should stop teasing the fandom and move on. However, if they are going to dive into that love triangle and make it messier, then I will shut my mouth and love every second of Archie getting left in the dust by the two girls constantly pitted against each other for his affection. 

Within the 45-minute span of the pilot, the show introduces love triangles, a teacher/student relationship, strained relationships with parents, parents with a romantic past, embezzlement and cheerleader hierarchies. On top of all of this, there is an entire murder-mystery plot that they return to when they aren’t too bogged down with the Archie/Betty/ Veronica dynamic. It was a lot. It felt like they wanted to take every single dramatic plotline from “Gossip Girl” and get it all in immediately. By the end of it, I was exhausted. However, because there were so many different plotlines going on, and they only had time to touch on them briefly, there were plenty of mysteries for folks to return for. 

Both the show and the cast are beautiful to watch, and as long as they can cool it with the interweaving plotlines, I think The CW has yet another hit on their hands.

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