What is “Riverdale”?
Produced Berlanti Productions, Archie Comics, Warner Bros. Television, and CBS Studios, “Riverdale” is an eclectic series that mixes the supernatural, crime, drama, and horror genres to create an unforgettable viewing experience. The series was adapted for The CW by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the chief creative officer of Archie Comics.
“Riverdale” was originally intended to be a feature film for Warner Bros Pictures, however, the idea was adapted for a Fox series, and project development eventually fell into The CW’s hands. The show is filmed in Vancouver, and features Veronica Lodge, Jughead Jones, Betty Cooper, Archie Andrews, and other Archie Comics characters.
Following the murder of a teenager in the sleepy and seemingly innocuous town of Riverdale, the group of teenagers – played by Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse, Lili Reinhart and KJ Apa – vow to get to the bottom of the sinister incident. The series was renewed for its final season in March 2022 with a premiere date sometime in 2023.
“Riverdale” has attracted something of a cult following, with viewing figures in the millions, and dozens of fan wikis dedicated to its characters.
Archie Andrews is the show’s protagonist. Described as conflicted and intense, the high school sophomore finds it difficult to cope with the attention his change of physique attracts. His passion for performing music and writing, his football coach, his father’s expectations, and his jampacked social life get increasingly harder to juggle.
Best friends with Betty and Jughead since childhood, things got even more complicated for Archie when during the high school semi-formal dance, Betty confessed that she had feelings for him. Their relationship became strained for a time when Archie decided he didn’t want to take things further; instead, he began dating Veronica, a newcomer to Riverdale who moved from New York following her wealthy father’s arrest.
Archie also witnessed his father’s shooting by the Black Hood, which led to him founding “The Red Circle”: a group to hunt down the mysterious perpetrator, created because he felt law enforcement wasn’t doing enough.
Next up is Betty Cooper, the show’s good girl and people pleaser, who is known for being studious, sweet, and unassuming. Tired of being the model daughter and student, she turns to Veronica for advice, which doesn’t go down well with her highly-strung mother.
In a shocking plot twist, Betty found herself at the center of the Black Hood attacks, and was manipulated by the murderer to protect her friends. Later on, she discovered that the Black Hood was her father, but still helped imprison him.
Betty’s unrequited crush on Archie came before her short-lived relationship with Jughead. After confessing to Jughead that she and Archie had kissed before, the pair became distant and broke up: Jughead left to study in Iowa, and Betty became a Yale student. After becoming an FBI trainee like her brother Charles, she was abducted by the Trash Bag Killer.
Veronica Lodge moved to Riverdale hoping to reinvent herself, after her father’s scandalous arrest for embezzlement and other crimes. Trying to become a better person, she befriended Betty despite their wildly different personalities, and began a relationship with Archie. Despite breaking-up several times, Veronica and Archie always get back together.
The confident brunette suspected that her parents were to blame for Fred Andrews being shot, even accusing them of hiring a hitman when Fred refused to sell his company shares. After mending the rocky relationship with her father, and being accepted into his inner circle, Veronica realized what his true intentions for Riverdale were and found out about his unsavory business deals.
To right her father’s wrongs, Veronica tried to stop him from monopolizing Riverdale’s Southside. This led to him cutting her off financially, and effectively firing her from the family business, Lodge Industries, where she performed various duties.
Last but not least, Jughead Jones is the series narrator, who is writing a novel about Riverdale’s dark and hidden secrets. He’s close friends with Archie and has known him and Betty since childhood; during Jughead’s sophomore year, his father, the leader of the Southside Serpents criminal gang, was arrested. The led to Jughead being temporarily placed in foster care, and transferred to Southside High, where gangs and drugs were rampant.
Jughead made the most of his time at Southside’s toxic environment, by relaunching and editing the school newspaper. When Southside High closed down, Jughead returned to Riverdale ,but would soon see himself become Penny Peabody’s personal drug-runner to pay off his father’s debts. When Jughead’s father was released, he became Penny’s drug runner, and a disgruntled Jughead eventually banished her from Southside forever with help from the younger Serpents.
Josie McCoy was one of Riverdale’s secondary characters. Named after the musical legend Josephine Baker, she followed her father’s footsteps and became the guitarist and lead singer of her own band, Josie and the Pussycats, before pursuing a solo music career.
The relationship between Josie and her father was complicated at times, and she was dependent on her mother’s moral support to get through various rough patches. Her mother, Sierra, was the former mayor of Riverdale and often received vitriolic messages and death threats that actually made her stronger.
Josie has various character flaws due to her home life and other circumstances. From taking her frustrations out on others to refusing to sing the songs Archie writes for her group, she can be unlikeable at times, but becomes more mellow in later episodes. From rivals to friends, Josie and Archie eventually enter a relationship, but break up when she moves to New York City to become a star.
Now a multi-platinum superstar, Josie hears of her father’s mysterious death while touring in Berlin. She wastes no time in returning to Riverdale to investigate the circumstances of his death, and reconnects with various characters whom she’d lost contact with over the years. These characters include her former bandmates Val and Mel; the trio decides to resurrect Josie and the Pussycats and tour together.
— Riverdale (@CW_Riverdale) March 2, 2017
It’s not enough to have a conventionally attractive cast, stunning cinematography, beautiful scenery, or good writers: these days, TV shows also need outlandish storylines to captivate viewers’ attention. As the show that keeps on giving, “Riverdale” has regaled us with enough plot twists and new developments for over six years and promises an equally fantastic final season. Let’s take a look at the wildest storylines.
Season six starts off with a tour of Rivervale, a place where supernatural is the norm. From witches to spirits to the Devil himself, the residents of Rivervale are no strangers to otherworldly affairs. Jughead provides viewers with a brief explanation on Rivervale’s existence, but even so, the lack of context left fans scratching their heads. The plus side is that the lore of the Riverdale and Rivervale universes appears to mesh together perfectly.
La Llorona is one of Rivervale’s many supernatural oddities; her vengeful spirit comes from Sweetwater River, and terrorizes the town residents. To repent for her past actions and protect her children and others, Toni Topaz sacrifices herself to the entity in a particularly chilling scene – proving that her luck is just as bad in Riverdale as in its parallel universe.
Demonic cult rituals are all the rage in Rivervale too, as in the season six premiere viewers were horrified to see Archie’s heart torn out in a blood sacrifice to restore balance to the town and cure its widespread infertility. It’s slightly off-putting, but also fascinating, to see how the townsfolk cut into Archie’s chest, but it does make you wonder if there’ll be anyone left in Rivervale after a few episodes.
Skipping back to season three, Jason Blossom’s corpse reveal – don’t worry, it was embalmed and well-preserved – was another gruesome moment. Longtime and casual viewers know that Jason was killed by the Black Hood way back in the first episode of season one; the fact that his twin sister Cheryl had kept his body for such a long time and even interacted with it was nothing short of horrifying.
Eventually, Cheryl came to terms with her brother’s death and gave him the send-off he deserved, but even so, Jason’s embalmment was so random and did nothing to further the plot, that it’s believed writers added it in for some good old-fashioned shock-horror factor.
Season three was particularly memorable thanks to the organ-harvesting storyline. Edgar Evernever, the charismatic cult leader played by Chad Michael Murray, was hypnotizing recruits and performing “healing rituals” as a guise to harvesting their organs and selling them on the black market. Edgar’s cult was based at The Farm, and although some fans were relieved to finally discover what was going on there after episodes of suspense, others were rightly disgusted.
Back to the main characters, Betty Cooper’s character arc has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride. Despite helping imprison her father after discovering his identity as The Black Hood, in later seasons she began giving in to her darker impulses – and realized she wasn’t averse to murder herself. Her alter-ego, Dark Betty, is a rather sadistic and unpleasant being; it’s unclear whether good or bad will win in Betty’s case, but in Riverdale, anything’s possible.
As the protagonist, Archie has been through the wringer a few times. It’s almost as if the show’s writers dedicated most of their time to making his life as depressing as possible. After being framed for murder by a drug dealer and an awry trial, Archie fled to the woods to get some much-needed fresh air, and pass himself off as a lumberjack.
Unfortunately, a grizzly bear attacked him at the worst moment. Hallucinations and gory injuries followed, and the bear attack was used to bring Archie back to his hometown. Thankfully, the teenager was fine by the next episode, and the bear attack was a distant memory.
Casey Cott arrives on the red carpet! #Bandstand
Kevin, played by Casey Cott, ran into some financial trouble and needed a fast way to earn cash. Instead of getting a weekend job, he decided to sell niche tickle fetish videos, which led to backlash from disgruntled viewers due to the character being underage. Thankfully, Kevin’s tickle storyline didn’t last too long and he wasn’t sexualized anywhere near as much as the cast of “Euphoria”, but the scenes didn’t exactly make for pleasant viewing.
Returning briefly to season three, Betty, Veronica, and other women of Riverdale, began experiencing seizures out of the blue, which came at the worst times, such as when the Vixens cheerleading squad all collapsed onto the floor in unison during training. In the end, the seizures were due to Sweetwater River being tainted, which was Hiram’s doing in a bid to control the townspeople. Instead of neatly tying up the loose ends, this plotline became so convoluted and hard to follow that some fans would rather forget it exists.
Taking first place in the list of absurd “Riverdale” plots is the immoral romantic relationship that took place between Archie and his high school teacher, Geraldine Grundy in season one. The teacher-student trope may be as old as time itself, but the fact is that this storyline did nothing for the show, with its sole purpose being to drum up controversy.
Archie and Geraldine began “dating” in the summer leading up to his sophomore year: at the time, he was just 15, and she was more than double his age. Their illicit affair ended after Jason Blossom’s death, but resumed when school started. When their relationship was rumbled by Alice Cooper, who threatened to shop Geraldine to the authorities if she didn’t leave town, the perverted teacher finally went away for good.
Although their on-screen relationship contained far too many unnecessary sex scenes, its one redeeming feature is that it brought awareness to how teenage boys can also be groomed and even assaulted by female figures in authority; typically, TV, film, and literature only show the other side of the coin with underage girls and grown men (see Lolita).
With that said, there’s more good than bad in the Riverdale universe (also known as the Archieverse) – if you don’t mind the odd gut-churning sacrifice, or morally questionable character, this show could be the one for you.