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Thursday
Oct122017

The Return (and Allure) of Riverdale 

by Spencer Coile

Hello, fellow TV watchers. Dripping in nostalgia, season two of Riverdale returns to the CW this week (the first episode aired last night). And who says that pulp television is dead? There is no better way to celebrate the series' return than to dive into what makes Riverdale so appealing to viewers -- teens and adults alike. 

Without spoiling much, as I am sure there are plenty of people still trying to catch up on season one (available on Netflix), this season of the CW's latest foray into teen drama picks up immediately where we left off. Our teenage heroes and heorines are left scrambling to pick up the pieces of a local shooting, a deadly fire, and lots and lots of (almost) hooking up. 

This all sounds so dramatic, which it is. And that is precisely why the show works...

In an era of reboots and recycled older series, Riverdale feels surprisingly fresh. If you had not gathered by this point, it is a reimagining of the Archie comics with Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and even Josie with her Pussycats. This time around, however, the brand is grittier and darker. Well, as dark and gritty as you can get with the CW. And while many reboots have tried and failed to capture the magic of the past (Charlie's Angels and The Odd Couple, to name a few), there is something almost invigorating about this particular revival. 

From the get-go, Riverdale felt more akin to previous crime dramas than the comics -- think of a tween version of Twin Peaks. Heck, Mädchen Amick plays a pivotal role in both -- portraying Shelly on Twin Peaks and Betty's mom Alice on Riverdale. The series opens, in fact, with the murder of a local town "celebrity," and season one attempts to unravel the mystery. And very much like with Twin Peaks, we do solve the puzzle of Riverdale in season one. However, through its introduction of new characters and the cliffhanger at the end of this first episode, season two offers the possibility of even more twists and turns. 

So what makes this show so appealing to audiences?

For those looking for a weekly installment of "Drama," you cannot get much better than Riverdale. Each new episode exposes a dark secret, an evil truth about its characters or about humanity in general -- and everything is set against a disturbing, neon backdrop of suburban life. And along this ride, we attempt to figure out the mysteries that lay before us.

And I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to watch a series where the two female leads (Betty and Veronica) are not instantly pitted against one another. Instead, they work together and promote female empowerment in a way that feels modern and unique to the series. Additionally, the representation of characters through their race, gender, and sexuality offers dynamic new insights to comic book characters that have come to life. (Plus, it never hurts to have those gratuitous shirtless shots of KJ Apa's Archie.) 

I am definitely not saying the show is perfect. But what we are left with is enough murder and enough intrigue to keep us coming back for more. In a way, Riverdale feels like a cinematic experience -- almost as if it were a feature length film, spliced into hour-long episodes. It is pulpy, twisted, and altogether compelling. And while the CW has had its fair share of duds in the past, currently, Riverdale is not one of them. So while many of us eagerly await the return of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (coming back tomorrow night!), take some time beforehand and watch the latest Riverdale. I cannot promise you the smartest, most effective series. But it is fun. And that is definitely not for nothing. 

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Reader Comments (6)

I adore the series and I have to say it's cinematography is pretty amazing.

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

I gave this a shot once it arrived on Netflix, and boy was I glad I did. It really is perfect pulp, and I'm a real sucker for any "dark side of suburbia" media (like you said, Twin Peaks, and early Pretty Little Liars vibes). I never thought three of my only must-watch shows would be on the CW (also CXG and Jane the Virgin) but here we are!

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterOlivia.

I loved the first season

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

The show is very clever update of these timeless characters to modern times and the casting in perfect and movie star gorgeous

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

We are hooked on Riverdale -- it is our guilty pleasure! Especially like the use of the older actors (Luke Perry, Molly Ringwald and Mädchen Amick)....plus as commented above - the lighting and cinematography is gorgeous!

ps - Dark Betty is our favorite!! :-)

October 13, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterceebee

Interesting musical choice during the final scene.

To say more would be a spoiler, and it's too soon after the original broadcast for that.

Also, I did notice that the new season, like the first, is naming most episodes after a film noir classic or a vintage genre movie or TV show,

October 13, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbcarter3

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