We’re pretty excited for Riverdale—the thought of getting something like the current, excellent modernized take on Archie on the CW could be a ton of fun. Hey, even KJ Apa’s Archie looks pretty good! But over the past few days, we’ve been a little less sure, and now a synopsis of the show has us scratching our heads in confusion.
The main source of this concern comes from a synopsis released yesterday by the CW as part of its upfronts presentation; it contains the first really solid details we’ve had about the series beyond the occasional character description.
As a new school year begins, the town of Riverdale is reeling from the recent, tragic death of high school golden boy Jason Blossom, and nothing feels the same. Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) is still the all-American teen, but the summer’s events made him realize that he wants to pursue a career in music — not follow in his dad’s footsteps—despite the sudden end of his forbidden relationship with Riverdale’s young music teacher, Ms. Grundy (Sarah Habel).
Which means Archie doesn’t have anyone who will mentor him — certainly not singer Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray), who is only focused on her band, the soon-to-be-world-famous Pussycats. It’s all weighing heavily on Archie’s mind — as is his fractured friendship with budding writer and fellow classmate Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse). Meanwhile, girl-next-door Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) is anxious to see her crush Archie after being away all summer, but she’s not quite ready to reveal her true feelings to him. And Betty’s nerves — which are hardly soothed by her overbearing mother Alice (Mädchen Amick) aren’t the only thing holding her back.
When a new student, Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), arrives in town from New York with her mother Hermione (Marisol Nichols), there’s an undeniable spark between her and Archie, even though Veronica doesn’t want to risk her new friendship with Betty by making a play for Archie. And then there’s Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch)... Riverdale’s Queen Bee is happy to stir up trouble amongst Archie, Betty, and Veronica, but Cheryl is keeping secrets of her own. What, exactly, is she hiding about the mysterious death of her twin brother, Jason? Riverdale may look like a quiet, sleepy town, but there are dangers in the shadows...
We need to be kind and rewind all over the two most absurd parts of all this. First off: Is this goddamn Archie comics show all centered on the goddamn murder of Jason Blossom or something? Because really, my favorite parts of Archie are the bits all about murder (no wait, sorry, that’s Afterlife with Archie). I guess a grittier reboot needs some edge, but really? Jason Blossom’s mysterious death is the edge we needed, Riverdale?
Second, and somehow even creepier: Archie is in an illicit relationship with Miss Grundy. Okay, sure, she’s been changed from the English teacher to a “young music teacher,” but if you’re unfamiliar with either the classic Archie comics, or even last year’s rather wonderful reboot, Miss Grundy has always been portrayed over the years as looking like this:
What the what. Why, when there’s so many characters to pair Archie up with already, why?
Look, there’s nothing wrong with a sexy CW-stamped take on Archie Comics. Let’s borrow some salmon ladders from the set of Arrow and have a good time with it, absurdly attractive actors everywhere! There’s not even anything really wrong with a murder mystery Archie. The Archie universe is flexible enough to include all sorts of dark stuff, from the more mature approach of Life with Archie to stuff like the excellent aforementioned Afterlife with Archie, which transplants these innocent characters into a gory zombie apocalypse. But this, combined with the recent talk from the cast and crew that they want Riverdale to be Archie Comics meets Twin Peaks, just seems all wrong.
Even worse when Mark Waid and Fiona Staples’ modernization of the comics, one of our absolute favorite books right now, is sitting there, and is perfect for a channel like the CW. This all just seems downright unnecessary. We’ll have to wait and see. In the wake of the concern about the show’s tone, producer Greg Berlanti has taken to Twitter to promise that there’s still plenty of heart in Riverdale:
Lets hope we start seeing some of that heart really soon.