Series Review: Riverdale Season 1

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I have been on such a roll with great series lately. Riverdale seems to have been the trigger, because since I’ve watched Riverdale Season 1 and 2 (in a ridiculously short amount of time), I’ve rolled over to Grey’s Anatomy, and nothing I’ve heard, and I’ve heard only good things about that show, prepared me from the addictive, obsessive and unhealthy love affair I’ve developed with Seattle Grace Hospital.

Anyway, back to Riverdale. Netflix sure seems to be on a roll and in possession of a magic formula. They are producing great work – great original series, great superhero series, and, like Riverdale, great adaptions of classic comic books.

I had no clue what Riverdale was when I started watching, and no clue who Archie Andrews even was. I was soon hooked on the addictive teenage drama atmosphere, some legitimately creepy moments, and the romance, suspense and investigative Nancy Drew adventure.

Note: You will now have to deal with me discussing nearly every character because I enjoyed them all 😉

Season one focuses on the aftermath the disappearance and subsequent death of Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines) brings on the sleepy town of Riverdale. The quiet town is shaken by his disappearance, and his twin sister Cheryl (Madeline Petch) creates chaos where she goes as her pampered life is torn to shreds. She’s a great character, because I can never quite like or dislike her. She has moments where she’s almost painfully sweet, struck by the loss of her brother, the only person who seemed to truly love her, and moments where she is unhinged, dangerous and selfish. Madeline Petch is a scene-stealer when she’s unhinged, and Cheryl provides some of the best drama in the show.

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Who is my favorite character? Probably Kevin (Casey Scott), but I love Betty Cooper (Lily Reinhart) almost as much. Kevin, as the gay best friend (pointed out by Cheryl Blossom – Madeline Petch – could easily have been generic and typical. Casey Scott saved his role and made his character my favorite by being so great and cute and managing to bring issues gay teenagers face to the show without making it fake or pretentious. Betty, on the top list of my favorites, is interesting as hell. She starts off as this pretty blonde girl who seems to be set to live the perfect life, but she has really dark edges to her personality that people won’t see if they don’t look. She grows stronger as the season progresses, as she is forced to deal with facts that her town and her people aren’t perfect and her enemies are closer than she could have thought.

Riverdale’s main character is Archie Andrews (KJ Apa). I am not sure whether I even like Archie most of the time. He can be pretty hysterical, somewhat selfish and a whole lot of stupid. He’s a perfect benchmark for a teenage boy. He can be blind to crushes, and has a very black or white mentality in the first season. I thought KJ Apa was cute, and has a look of a young Paul Wesley (you can debate in the comments) look to him, and then I saw he’s at least 5 years younger than I am and stopped thinking he’s cute because I am no cougar-auntie-person. Anyway, Archie is annoying a lot of the times and I disagree with many of the decisions he makes.

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We also got to a point where Cole Sprouse grew up. He did it in such a chill fashion, seemingly void of the drug addiction and predilection for attention most young stars suffer that time passed for him and no one knew it until now. He returns not as Zack or as Cody, but as Jughead Jones, friend to Archie and Betty. He has a mysterious role the first few episodes, and it only becomes clear later on whether you can trust him or not. I love Jughead in Season 1, because he is such a good example that you don’t have to be a stereotype just because your family is from the wrong side of the tracks.

Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) completes the main group of characters. Her father is a notorious criminal, and she has to deal with the rumor mill that he created. Her mother Hermoine (Marisol Nichols) is her rock and they have a pretty great relationship. I like Veronica, but she has moments where she does stuff that is really selfish and reveals that she has a darker side to her.

Riverdale is made more interesting by the parents of these teens. Alice Cooper (Madchen Amick) seems to care only about her status in the community and getting as much revenge on Jason Blossom as she possibly can. She reveals herself layer by layer and she’s become one of my favorite characters as a result. She gains depth and you start to understand how much her love for her children drives her, even when she’s not always right.

Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) is the perfect small town man, who is hardworking, a good parent and dedicated to his town. He is a favorite because of all the parents he never deviates from who he is and loves his (very undeserving at times) son visibly.

Skeet Ulrich returns to rock our worlds as the devishly handsome father of Jughead Jones. Despite the dubious decision to name his son Jughead, and the obvious drinking problem and ganster activities, FP Jones is dangerous, hot, and also a surprisingly decent person once he gets his life under control. He seems this deadbeat dad and character and he eventually plays such an instrumental role in the drama in Riverdale. Ulrich does a great job with his slowly building tension and soon you will not know whether he is a friend or foe.

Riverdale includes great conversation to their episodes – slut shaming, being a gay teenager, being a black teenager in a predominantly white conservative community, having parents who aren’t always stable – there are many scenes in season one that is about a lot more than a generic who-dunnit show.

The revelation of who really murdered Jason Blossom was so shocking and such a plot twist, and I truly never saw it coming. It is excellent writing that concludes the season on a perfect note, and I could not wait to watch the rest.

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