With the second season of “Riverdale” coming out and the continued online frenzy that the show has caused, I feel like it’s time to express my, somewhat, educated opinion on it. The show is terrible. There, I said it. I hate “Riverdale.” Now I don’t have anything against the cast, I think they’re great. They’ve won awards recognizing their acting chops and from what I’ve observed of them on social media, they all seem like nice people. The bone I have to pick is not with them personally, so please don’t get upset over that, but with the show writers, producers and anyone else in charge of making storyline decisions.
Now in order to explain what it is I don’t like about “Riverdale,” I have to provide some background. Anyone who knows me can tell you I read a lot of comics, and last year I started expanding beyond my normal repertoire of DC to more indie titles and comics that aren’t about superheroes. Seeing a lot of positive feedback from fans on “Jughead,” I decided to give it a read, thus launching me into the world of Archie Comics. I will admit that I only know of Riverdale, its residents and neighboring communities through the ongoing runs of “Jughead” and “Josie and the Pussycats.” However, the characters and overall tone are so warped that I feel confident in stating my opinion based on these two titles alone.
Upon reading “Jughead,” I realized how much I loved the character, his kooky adventures and friendships. I really enjoyed him and was so excited to see him portrayed on TV, and by Cole Sprouse no less. For these reasons, mixed with a smidge of morbid curiosity, I eagerly watched the first episode and was mildly surprised by the tone and the fact that Archie was having an affair with his teacher, the much younger than the comics, Miss Grundy. Frankly this student/teacher relationship skeeved me out quite a bit, especially since the Miss Grundy I was used to was about forty years Archie’s senior and mean as all get out. Thankfully, it lasted only a few episodes and I thought the show could get on with a good old, Scooby-Dootype mystery. Unfortunately that was much too naïve of me.
Looking back on it now, I really shouldn’t have been so surprised by all this, seeing as how I watch and complain about how poor the adaptations are of the DC shows done by CW which — for those of you who binged it on Netflix — is where “Riverdale” airs. I guess, like the beginning of every season of “Arrow,” I just had high hopes. Hopes that before long were dashed and smashed to smithereens. Unfortunately, thanks to the aforementioned morbid curiosity, I had to see where this trainwreck would finally come to a screeching halt. Not to mention the junior detective in me wanted to find out who Jason Blossom’s killer was.
As I’ve said, Jughead is my favorite character, so the liberties taken with him in the show are really what upsets me the most. In his comics Jughead is smart, if lazy, and focused solely on Pop’s burgers, video games and his friends. His parents are not divorced, and his dad is most certainly not the alcoholic leader of a biker gang whose actions cause Jughead to be homeless. Seeing that in the show was shocking to say the least. If you don’t believe how much the tidbit about Jughead’s lack of a proper bed upset me, then you can ask my mother, who was forced to listen to a rant longer than this article the weekend after I watched that particular episode.
More importantly than the wrecking ball the writers took to his homelife, a major part of Jughead’s character in the comics is that he identifies as asexual and aromantic. At one point he even accidentally ends up on a date with Sabrina (the teenage witch) and freaks out because he is so far out of his comfort zone, having to explain to Sabrina that he never viewed
her in that way and just wanted them to be friends. He even gets into arguments with Archie, his best friend, over the fact that he doesn’t understand Archie’s girl troubles because sometimes Archie is insensitive and an idio,t but Jughead always sets him straight. His relationship with Betty is strictly platonic, as are all his relationships. I cannot stress this enough, Bughead is not canon. It’s not! Betty hugs him once and Jughead pretty much says “get off right now, thanks.” For the show to completely and utterly ignore this is huge since there are very few representations of aro and acespec people in media of any kind. Jughead’s relationship with Betty in the show is a huge slap in the face to the writers and artists who took the time to research and respectfully portray those who identify as aro and ace through Jughead.
I could go on about how much I detest the soap opera nature of the show; or about the fact that characters like Josie, Valerie, Melody, Reggie and others are being used simply to further the plot rather than tell their own unique and interesting stories like in the comics; or about how there was so much source material and different iterations of the characters and yet the writers decided that this end product was ok. However, at this point you probably don’t want to hear it. So watch “Riverdale” but watch it with a grain of salt. Know that the show’s plot could have been accomplished with any generic characters and setting, that there was no need to use the names of beloved characters who have been around for nearly 80 years. Above all, read the source material because just like everything else, the original is always better.