If you were born in the '80s, prepare to spend the next one and a half minutes muttering, "What the actual fuck?" under your breath.
Prepare to have your heart broken.
Prepare to have one of the most classic of classics from your childhood thoroughly ruined.
Are you ready? (I take that back. You'll never truly be ready for this).
Now, if you're like me, you spent the first 25 seconds watching with bland disinterest. Like, "Ah. I see they've made another one of these dark CW shows about sexy, murderous teens. How splendid."
And then they name-dropped Archie and you may have registered a glimmer of something. Maybe not much more than, "Huh. That's an odd name," and perhaps, if you are smarter than I am, you might have connected Archie + Riverdale and understood what this show truly was.
For me, however, the realization dawned in agonizingly slow motion.
"Wait, this is Riverdale. Like...Riverdale-Riverdale!"
"Is that... emo Jughead?"
"Is that Archie and... good God, Miss Grundy making out in the backseat of his jalopy?"
"Is that supposed to be Veronica Lodge? Why is she wearing a cape?!"
It only got worse as the scenes flickered before me like a bad dream.
Josie. A gun. Someone's ass hanging out of a bathing suit. A suitcase of money. Archie getting into a fight that wasn't about Betty or Veronica. Ladies slapping each other and looking menacing. Rain. Cars on fire. And to top it all off, Veronica seductively cooing to Archie, "You're a little more dangerous than you look."
I know it's been awhile since any of us read Archie comics, but let me assure you that while Archie has many surprising qualities, being dangerous absolutely isn't one of them.
Allow me to refresh your memories. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Archie Andrews:
This grinning, affable, good-natured redhead. Remember him? He calls his dad "Pops" and loves milkshakes; his biggest problem in life is whether to choose a blonde or a brunette.
Archie does not murder and/or investigate murders. Archie does not angrily shove dudes in darkly lit scenes as ominous pop music plays in the background. And, perhaps most important, Archie does not sleep with his teacher, Miss Grundy! Not only because in Archie comics Miss Grundy has always been portrayed as an elderly woman, but also because Miss Grundy would never cross that line.
A teacher sleeping with a teenage student isn't a dramatic plot point, it's statutory rape, regardless of the of the victim's gender.
I'm so bewildered by this show. Bewildered and, I'm almost embarrassed to admit, heartbroken.
I mean, Archie isn't even a product of the 80's strictly speaking, the characters first appeared in 1941. Nonetheless, the comics have always seemed like a staple of 80's life.
And it's not that I'm against revamps of '80s classics, either. I embraced the new Ghostbusters with open arms. I love that TMNT has gotten big again, and I'm all for a reboot of the Power Rangers. I'm proud of the '80s and seeing bits and pieces of it come back with a modern edge makes me happily nostalgic.
Honestly, my main question is why.
There's nothing in the trailer that suggests to me that Riverdale is in any way linked to the Archie comic series other than the characters' names. The Archie character could have just as well been a Chad or a Charlie — come on, he would have made a great Charlie! And the town would have made just as much sense if it were Springbank or Wakefield.
Riverdale would have lost nothing by introducing itself as a standalone series with new characters, new relationships and new plotlines. Instead, they tried to capitalize on the popularity of a classic by unceremoniously ripping away names of a town and a handful of characters and loosely draping them over dark, mature storylines where they sit, ill-fitting and incongruous, unnerving, like wax figures.
It's Archie, but it's not Archie. Betty but not Betty.
Younger viewers unfamiliar with the series' origin likely won't notice anything amiss, but for us '80s kids, it feels incredibly unsettling, like something innocent has been taken advantage of and made darker when innocence is in short supply as it is.
Granted, I'm not exactly unbiased. My five siblings and I were raised on Archie comics. We bought them with our allowance money, traded them and read them cover to cover on long road trips to our cottage each summer.
This was pre-smartphone, pre-handheld tablets. The comic books were accessible, affordable and our sole source of entertainment. They were also reassuring in their familiarity: Archie was always bungling something and trying to impress Mr. Lodge, Reggie was always conniving, sometimes alongside his rich-girl counterpart Ronnie. Jughead spent his whole life in a hammock or evading Big Ethel's amorous advances.
The main characters' love lives never progressed much beyond kissing despite decades-long courtship, and Riverdale was largely exempt from current events and politics too.
In short, life was safe within the frames of those black-lined drawings.
I'm more saddened than perhaps I ought to be that teens watching The CW's Riverdale won't know those simple plots and predictable storylines. The new series is flashier, yes. More mysterious and tantalizing. But we've traded earnest crushes and diner friendships for murder and sly seduction.
The CW has brought the slick, conniving world of adults into earnest, idyllic Riverdale and this '80s baby is heartbroken.
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