In the last couple of years there has been a surge of ‘Netflix Original’ TV shows making their way to the popular website, and Riverdale is one of the latest and, in my personal opinion, the most riveting and exciting one yet. As a student, I would be lying if I said I hadn’t sat my way through the majority of these binge worthy shows like Making a Murderer, Stranger Things and 13 Reasons Why – it’s the best way of procrastinating from university essays and reading, of course! I have been impressed with all of the above shows and many more, however Riverdale is somewhat different…
The show is narrated by the Riverdale High social outcast Jughead Jones (yes, that really is his actual name, and he has a sister called Jellybean…), and it begins with explaining what happened on July 4th Weekend. This tale is set in your classic American small suburban town, where danger is unheard of and a perfect public image is the most important part of people’s lives…On the 4th July, the show explains, someone in this town dies – although this is explained in the opening scene, I won’t discuss who this is, however I will explain that this death, initially assumed to be a mere accident, becomes a murder investigation – and the show becomes very much a ‘whodunit’ – a genre that is exciting, fast paced and has you wondering and accusing various characters throughout. This, on top of a family feud between the Blossoms and the Coopers, and the increasing amount of incriminating evidence against the Lodge family makes Riverdale an extremely exciting watch.
I must commend this show firstly for the characters it portrays. Some may argue that the main characters (Betty, Veronica, Archie and Jughead) are not ‘deep’ enough – perhaps the show does not go into expanding their characters enough. However, these characters are all so very typical in any America show that there really is no need to do so. You have Betty, the ‘good girl’ – a straight A student, a cheerleader, a real ambassador for Riverdale High; Veronica, the ‘bad girl’ – she’s a new student from New York trying to fix her bitchy track record; Jughead is the social outcast who keeps himself to himself and would rather stay observing the case rather than being a part of it, and Archie, the dreamy Quarterback whose problems are far more trivial than everyone else’s (seriously, you wouldn’t believe how little he has to deal with compared to his friends). There is no need to delve deep into these characters as we know them all already – we’ve probably been friends with the same supposedly perfect characters, however, this show does give us some ambivalence. Betty, the nice girl, undoubtedly has a dark streak within her, which comes to light very dramatically, and Cheryl Blossom, whom you will certainly despise at first, is neither good nor bad – she is the most confusing and yet the strongest character of them all and you are bound to fall in love with her fire, strength and darkness throughout the show.
As any TV programme would, this show does have its pitfalls, though they are few and far between. Every now and then I would cringe at the way the teens spoke – I’m not sure if this was a little dig at young people today, focussing on how much time we teenagers spend on social media these days, or if the writers of the show genuinely think that teenagers actually speak in hashtags – but throughout the show, particularly Cheryl Blossom, the characters would say things such as ‘hashtag Riverdale Strong’. This may be an American stereotype that we in England aren’t used to, but watching the show I can safely say that it was slightly cringe to say the least. However having a slightly awkward sentence here and there is hardly a negative comment for an entire series and therefore is a very minor criticism. As well as this, there were a few far-fetched discoveries that were made by the teenagers, and it is hard to believe that four teenagers were able to find more evidence than the Sheriff or the police department, giving it a slight Scooby-Doo vibe, but then again – its fiction, and it’s exciting and hardly a criticism of the show. Riverdale is packed full of action in every minute – there were no ‘filler’ episodes, and it was by no means slow. Every episode had so many twists and turns and dramatic discoveries that I binged it in a few days and could not stop watching. I would recommend waiting for exams to be over before starting this show – you will be wondering who committed the murder and what on earth is going on from start to finish – it is certainly one of the most exciting shows I’ve watched in a long time! Make sure you catch it on Netflix soon.