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Yes, I still watch Riverdale

By KLEONA AMOYO Published May 07, 2021 5:00 am

I’m not too keen on leaving shows uncompleted, so even if I have to sit through 40 minutes of bewilderment and discomfort, I do. I enjoyed Season 1 of Riverdale, but then it was downhill from there.

Riverdale is a TV show based on the characters of Archie Comics. The stories per season revolve around the dark mysteries of the town.

The first season was great. It had a gripping town mystery, an exciting love triangle, and some entertaining musical numbers. However, when Polly’s babies were thrown into the fire and levitated in Season 3, that’s when I started questioning the writers’ sanity. 

Currently, Riverdale is on its fifth season, and it has completely lost its touch… with reality. The mysteries are becoming too outrageous. The development of each character is getting questionable. There are many subplots you need to follow, and not all of them are wrapped up properly. Plus, it seems like they jab a music number in at the most random of times.

One of the best-known scenes in Riverdale was in Season 3 when Archie was framed for murder. While Archie served time in a juvenile detention center, a prison mate opened up to him about how he missed out on high school.

Archie says, “That means you haven’t known the triumphs and defeats, the epic highs and lows of high school football.” Moments later, the cheerleaders are singing and dancing to Jailhouse Rock outside the prison fence to cheer on the boys.

Imagine that you’re a teenager worrying about finances, so you do drug deals to provide for your family. You get caught and detained in a juvenile center. Then, some redhead glosses over your problems and offers to make things better with a sports day while his girlfriend dances to Elvis Presley.

It’s so hard to relate to Riverdale’s characters nowadays. Most of them are like caricatures of their Season 1 selves. When compared to other teenage drama shows, Riverdale is by far the most out of touch.  

I’m not even exaggerating in describing these scenes. Veronica owns a speakeasy, Archie participates in an underground fight club, Betty has the “serial killer genes,” and Cheryl keeps her dead brother’s decomposing body in her house. Are we all supposed to believe this is a normal high school storyline?

It’s so hard to relate to Riverdale’s characters nowadays. Most of them are like caricatures of their Season 1 selves. When compared to other teenage drama shows, Riverdale is by far the most out of touch.  

Take HBO’s Euphoria. The show follows different high schoolers with bizarre stories. There’s sex, drugs, mental health issues and violence, but everything is presented tastefully. Euphoria tackles real issues with well-written emotional characters who make you feel like you can relate and connect to them on some level. 

In Euphoria, it was established in the early episodes that Rue’s father passed away from cancer. The heartbreak she experienced from witnessing her father passing away, together with her current mental issues, caused her to fall into a downward spiral of drug abuse. 

Meanwhile, when the Black Hood shot Archie’s father in Riverdale, Archie formed a group club called The Red Circle to track down the killer. This group of teenage vigilantes wore beanies and mostly went shirtless. Plus, in support of her boyfriend’s movement, Veronica started a campaign in less than 24 hours in which she gave out Red Circle merchandise (a plain white shirt with what looks like a Target logo) in school. 

Euphoria is not perfect as it’s also not an accurate depiction of high school life. However, when you compare the two, Riverdale looks like a murder mystery show that tries every outlandish plotline there is. 

I usually indulge in watching well-written and well-directed shows that challenge my perspective — but ‘Riverdale’ seems to be my guilty pleasure.

Most people gave up on Riverdale. Some of my friends even make fun of me because I still watch the show. I usually indulge in watching well-written and well-directed shows that challenge my perspective — but Riverdale seems to be my guilty pleasure. 

As much as I cringe at most of the scenes, I can’t help but look forward to what’s going to come next. You try to predict what will happen in the following episodes, but the show takes that and turns it up to 11. I hate myself for being continuously drawn in by its off-the-rails plotlines, but I bet other people cite this reason as well for why they still watch Riverdale. 

More and more shows are adaptations with dark twists in them. Some examples are Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Fate: The Winx Saga, Nancy Drew, and the latest addition to the CW network, Powerpuff, a live-action series of the cartoon Powerpuff Girls. These adaptation shows are like TV’s version of superhero comic adaptation films. The creators take a part of our childhood and turn it into shows that are modern versions of it, but all having dark twists for some reason. 

Do we need more shows like Riverdale? Yes and no. The show combines over-the-top scripts and imagery with well-known archetypes and some attempts to stay “woke.” This formula seems to attract a lot of Riverdale’s target demographic. A badass teen queen living in a Gothic mansion with her girlfriend and little to no supervision? Yes, they want more of this! 

Is Riverdale a good balance of camp and cringe? I don’t think so. Lately, it’s been more cringe than camp. However, some parts of me feel like Riverdale can still redeem itself.

On the other hand, shows nowadays could develop more well-thought-out stories and not focus so much on surprising the audience. The balance between keeping a show interesting and authentic is difficult. While you need to get a great message across, you also need to entice the audience. You need both for an amazing show.  

When you play the cards right, somewhere between camp and cringe, the show sometimes turns out iconic. Take American Horror Story, for example; the Coven season was campy, entertaining, and unpredictable with wild characters and darkly funny humor. 

Is Riverdale a good balance of camp and cringe? I don’t think so. Lately, it’s been more cringe than camp. However, some parts of me feel like Riverdale can still redeem itself. When you think you know where the show is headed, it turns into something ridiculous, and I think there’s a part of me that likes that. I like telling my friends how bizarre Riverdale’s plotlines have become. It just embraces the “more is more” concept. 

At present, the show has jumped seven years into the future. Some of the characters became teachers in Riverdale High. Cheryl, now an adult, is doing a dance battle with high school cheerleader AC Bonifacio to see who will rule over the Riverdale Vixens. Additionally, the show is hinting that there’s an alien presence in town! Here I thought they’d already lost it with the “cult” season.

Riverdale is by far not one of my must-watch shows, but if you want an addictive and hysterical distraction, this show is a good one. When you watch Riverdale, it will make you forget the absurdities of real life because you’ll be too preoccupied with the ridiculousness of this small town.

Art by Wira Dosado