“Riverdale” is dark, ambient and full of mysteries

In Art, Film & TV, Reviews
(Courtesy of The CW)

Riverdale is a perplexing small town. From student-teacher relationships to a murder mystery, it has much more to offer than Pop’s Chock’Lit Shoppe. The show, which has premiered on The CW, is a “Twin Peaks” twist on the Archie Comics gang. It is even named after the city they reside in, “Riverdale.” The series’ dark ambiance pulls the audience into a world full of mysterious secrets, and leaves them wanting to know what happens next after every episode.

The style of the series, similar to “Stranger Things,” emphasizes a blue tone in its shots to enhance the dark and serious mood. In scenes set during the day, colors are more intense, such as Archie’s red hair or the blue and gold on his letterman jacket. Scenes set in the evening are incredibly blue and muted, as though secrets of the night are being held tight from appearing out of the shadows.

Heartthrob redhead Archie Andrews, portrayed by K.J. Apa, is a sophomore at Riverdale High School looking for his true calling. The audience falls in love with him instantly, and not just because of his red hair and killer abs. K.J. brings life to the iconic character, who holds some scandalous stories but is constantly trying to be honest. This is a fresh take on the television teenager, who is usually portrayed as irresponsible and lazy. Archie does everything in his power to be earnest while accomplishing his goals, both in school and in life.

Betty Cooper, portrayed by Lili Reinhart, is madly in love with Archie and is on track for college. Her timid persona makes her easy to root for even when her relationship with Archie can make the audience feel sad for her. Veronica Lodge, played by Camila Mendes, is someone that recognizes her rich privilege and is ready to take down anyone with her blunt New Yorker demeanor.

Other characters include manipulative Cheryl Blossom, played by Madelaine Petsch, Josie McCoy, played by Ashleigh Murray, and her pussycats, as well as the ominous narrator Jughead Jones, played by Cole Sprouse.

Jughead’s all-knowing demeanor of the events that take place in Riverdale brings the audience into the story, as the death of a Riverdale High student begins the series with a bang. Along with the main theme around figuring out who the killer is, there are a string of subplots to keep the audience’s mind at ease.

The friendship between Betty and Veronica is one that everyone knows, but even more prevalent is their feud over who can be with Archie. There is a taste of this feud in the first episode, but it immediately dissolves in the second, leaving the die-hard fans wondering if this will ever rekindle. Friendships can be perfectly fine at one moment in the show and then crumble in the next.

Riverdale translates amazingly from comic books to a television show, much in the same way The CW has translated DC Comics’ properties to the small screen. While most television shows depict teenagers stereotypically, “Riverdale” is populated with a town full of strong characters. Betty and Veronica are not afraid to express their feelings, whereas in other shows, the audience might beg the character to share what is going on. Betty is focused and knows what would help her get into college. Veronica speaks her mind and lets nothing get to her. Jughead, the ominous narrator, knows the people in the town and knows who to associate with. As for Archie, the show’s main focus, he is still discovering himself.

“Riverdale” is off to a great start, and it will be interesting to see how these stories and characters will grow.

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