Have you ever gone through TV channels or through your Netflix account, looking at the many names of shows and just skipping over them, perhaps with a momentary judgement towards them? Maybe their names seem over the top or the logo seems silly, or perhaps even the genre is not your usual thing.
But then, one day, you’re extremely bored or you read or heard about some of those shows or films and decide, “yeah, I’ll watch the first episode,” and suddenly “how bad could it be?” turns into a day or binge-watching an entire season, or looking forward to the next week’s entry.
Has that ever happened to you? It’s happened to me with increased frequency in the past few weeks, specifically with Netflix. I am usually open to whatever media has a good story and characters, but I must admit that when it comes to live action series, I often dismiss them too easily.
But the upside is that when I do pay attention to these shows, when I realise that my rash judgements are nothing short of ignorant and decide to correct my mistakes, I often find not only series I enjoy, perhaps more than I’m comfortable admitting, but true gems of entertainment and storytelling.
Here’s one of the latest series I’ve “discovered,” or maybe I should say it “enlightened” me to its good graces.
Riverdale: I have vague memories of reading the old-school Archie Comics at an aunt’s place when I was a kid, and though they stopped being my kind of comic as I grew older, these are characters I believe everyone knows, at least in a broad sense. Over the past couple of years, I’ve found more news articles dealing with Archie Comics and how progressive they were, inclusive with regards to different gender and sexual identities, with Jughead being asexual for example (a point of contention with Riverdale’s development if I remember correctly) and how the stories and characters were finally getting a move on, particularly with regards of the eternal love triangle of Betty, Veronica & Archie. Hell, I read there’s one comic arc that ends with Archive dying—it’s still in my to-read list.
But I’ll be honest, you mention Archive and his gang in the same context of a TV series and a part of me checks out immediately, primarily on the assumption that it’s going to be cheesy teen melodrama—because let’s face it, if there’s a series out there kinda made for it, it’s Archie. So imagine my surprise when, after hearing some acquaintances mention the series in passing, I take a look at the Netflix (originally The CW) Riverdale series and it’s freaking amazing?
True, it’s the teen murder mystery plot that we’re now seeing in almost every series about a quaint small town, and like every time it’s the catalyst that leads to the exposure of many family secrets and show who really are the monsters in town…though in Riverdale they decided that the usual way TV shows these towns and the secrets and families was cute, and so they turned it up to 11 on Episode 1 and have just kept going further each time.
I love Riverdale because behind the thin veneer of cute teens and mild melodrama between Archie and his cohorts, there’s an entire set of batshit crazy families with not only bizarre ideals but some demented grudges. Their secrets are often genuinely shocking because you would think no one in their right minds—or outside the world of television—would do such things, even though reality proves stranger and darker than fiction every day these days.
Every family has something against another, or against their children and no one lets go of anything. Some are carrying grudges from high school while at least a couple of characters still cling to a generations-long blood feud. The mere fact there’s a blood feud involved should tell you how insane Riverdale is as a place. Add to that the typical awfulness we see of USA high schools and you can see just how bad things could get.
Performances are great all around, from the nice guys to the downright evil ones. As I mentioned, some of these characters are positively deranged and it’s great to see them on screen. Better still is the writing of the mystery that propels the plot of the season, the murder of one Jason Blossom. Even by episode 9, where I’m currently at, I’m still not sure who killed the poor bastard, as there are too many suspects.
So far, Riverdale has it all: a great cast, a good plot, drama and romance and some badass music courtesy of Archie and Josie and The Pussycats—and better yet, there is no “The Archies” band, because it’s the 21st century and now we know just how bad a name “The Archies” is!
But will the mystery pay off, or will it all go into stupid-land near the end and completely unravel what so far has been a pretty damn good show?
I suppose I’ll let you know once I’m done watching the series!
Also apparently they’re pitching a Sabrina the Teenage Witch remake but as a horror. With how dark Riverdale already is, I think they can really pull it off!