Riverdale: The Complete First Season (2016)

If the characters from Archie comics inhabited Twin Peaks, you would have Riverdale, a delightfully dark and twisty place full of melodrama, camp, and intrigue.
Our Rating

Genre(s): Television, Drama

Director: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Actors: KJ Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse, Marisol Nichols, Madelaine Petsch

Year: 2016

MPAA Rating: NR

Country: USA

Jason Blossom is the town’s Laura Palmer, the murdered teen whose body washes up on shore and leaves the entire town wondering who killed him. His friends at the school paper seem just as likely to crack the case as local police, and just about everyone Jason ever met has a place on the murder board. With so many suspects and so many secrets, it will take all of Season 1 to solve this crime, but we’ll still only be scratching the surface of all the shady goings-on in this misty maple syrup town.

Archie (K.J. Apa) used to have a thing with Betty (Lili Reinhart), but then he started sleeping with his music teacher. Then he sort of had a thing with the girl from Josie and the Pussycats, but wound up having more of a thing with Veronica (Camila Mendes). Veronica’s dad is in prison for shady business dealings, and her mom (Marisol Nichols) is working for/making out with Archie’s dad (Luke Perry). Meanwhile, Betty’s sister (Jason’s girlfriend) has been sent away in the wake of his death and Betty’s mother (a delightful, scenery-chewing Madchen Amick) is in serious helicopter mode trying to keep Betty from becoming some sort of bad girl (as in “someone who wears dark lipstick”). Jason’s sister, Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch), seems to be dealing with some very Flowers in the Attic type feelings for her late brother, and it doesn’t help that her family runs some sort of maple syrup dynasty and lives in the town’s creepy house (i.e. freaky gated mansion). Oh, and I’ve completely forgotten Jughead (Cole Sprouse) who winds up dating Betty! His dad (Skeet Ulrich) is an alcoholic with gang ties, so Jughead’s home life is pretty terrible. Just when things look up for him, it all gets even worse.

Phew! Are you keeping up? That’s just a hint of the crazy, tangled up goings-on in Riverdale. The true extent of corruption, cover ups, and hook ups would take all day to explain. The genius of Riverdale is that it’s kind of insane and absurd, but it’s also completely addictive. The teenagers are hyper-empowered, mobile, and sexually confident, but that also makes it easy for older viewers to forget they’re watching a show about high school. For added fun, the parents are played by a who’s who of 80s and 90s teen stars (Molly Ringwald and Robin Givens haven’t gotten a shout-out yet). At times the dialogue is so peppered with literary and pop culture references that you have to strain to catch it all. Perhaps best of all are the strangely touching moments of friendship and loyalty in this dark, back-stabbing town. (Fans of Stranger Things will cheer at the sight of Shannon Purser as #JusticeForBarb becomes #JusticeForEthel.) The only downside to bingeing this guilty pleasure is that we’ll have to wait until October for the premiere of Season 2.


Special features include unaired scenes, a gag reel, and the featurettes “The New Normal”, “I Got You”, “Riverdale: 2016 Comic-Con.


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