Riverdale brings the vintage comic book characters of Archie to life


Sophie Bolen, Staff Writer

This past December, I happened to be in a convenience store checkout line with my vintage fanatic mother. Little did I know that the comic book that I initially steered away from, placed above the candy and next to the telenovela overviews, entitled Betty and Veronica, would soon be the basis of my new favorite show Riverdale.

Riverdale is based on characters from the vintage comic book series, and I would have had no prior knowledge of the characters that lie within the pages if it wasn’t for my mother buying the little book, comparing Betty and Veronica to me and my real life best friend. The show has a different vibe than the original comic book series. Riverdale‘s neo-noir vibe appeals to teenagers- as well as adults- who are just diving into the timeless characters or are drawn into the over-dramatized, teenage love stories.

The CW’s reboot of the comic book throws away the original, juvenile Archie and says hello to a more mature Archie in a drama-thriller theme. The gut of the story centers around the murder that takes place along the shores of the Sweet Water River in Riverdale. Success followed this murderous, shadowy series much like its dark and dangerous sister-series, Thirteen Reasons Why, which was monumentally successful. Yet, even with a murderous plot, the writers keep the characters likable and the mood not too depressing, as opposed to Thirteen Reasons Why.

There are many sub-plots within the show, clad with love triangles, bullying, criminal activity, and simply navigating “who you are” in high school. While the main drive of the show is the murder of Jason Blossom, the complexity of the characters drives the show. There is the original Archie Andrews (KJ Apa), the red-headed heartthrob of the original comic book series; the love interests, good-girl Betty (Lili Reinhart) and big-city-girl Veronica (Camila Mendes); the odd best bud, Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse); and bombshell Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch). Accompanying the meddling kids are their parents, who could have a show all on their own. The parents come across more so as the troublemakers of the town with their own intertwining plots.

What drew me to the show was not the plot line, but the characters. The show did not advertise that they would be translating the Archie characters to the screen– I found out through word of mouth. It was really intriguing to me how they could take a skippy comic book series from my mother’s era and turn it into something that would interest my generation.

The show has an overall comic book feel visually. The characters’ looks are very specific and contrasting. Betty wears baby pastels and has her signature blonde hair up in a tight ponytail like the girl next door. Veronica has raven hair with mauve lips and a fashion style that seems more NYC businesswoman than small town student, though it somehow works.

Cheryl is adorned in red and black, claiming her spot as the villain of the show. She is covered in brass brooches that set her entitlement (what teenager wears brooches in 2017– hipsters or those who live in a mahogany mansion) with figures like spiders or snakes.

Jughead Jones trades out his iconic comic book crown for a rigid beanie and is dressed in grays and blues with clothes that are hipster-esque, setting him aside from the rest of preppy Riverdale. And then there is the showstopper, Archie Andrews, with his iconic flaming red hair and blue and gold letterman jacket.

What also makes the show interesting is the on-screen parents of the show. The parents’ subplots intertwine with their kids. This could get messy and disorganized and hard to follow, yet the producers do a wonderful job of keeping everything organized and easy to follow. One thing that helps immensely is that each family has their own colors, almost like a family crest.

Betty’s family has matching blonde locks and a preppy baby-toned style; Veronica and her mother have jet black hair and wear deep purples; the Blossom family has matching red hair that they pair with white and red clothes. Just like a comic book, the visuals aid the story immensely.

Alongside the characters’ appearances are their diverse and stand-alone plotlines. Betty and Veronica being polar opposites: the good girl gone bad and the self-proclaimed bully gone kind.

Betty’s innocence clashes with Veronica’s experience, leaving the audience adoring the pair but conflicted with who to root for in the series, which makes for a captivating show.

Cheryl’s mean girl and entitled lifestyle facilitate her complex character, forcing the audience to decipher real from fake. Jughead Jones is an outcast with a past from the south side of Riverdale, yet he is sweet and level headed, but unfairly gets in trouble because of his past. Archie is a happy medium– the character that brings everyone together.

Riverdale is fantastically produced with a dark, modern twist based off of the infamous comic strip characters. The characters lead the show with their unique plot points and stunning visuals. Overall, Jughead Jones steals the show. His self-proclaimed, weirdo vibe and his past are the polar opposite of the other characters in Riverdale. Not to mention, he is the unsuspected narrator. Throughout the show, like all the characters, Jughead falls into compelling relationships that trudge the audience on.

Riverdale enraptures me with its artistic genius, from behind the scenes to in front of the camera.

Who knew that the stashed-away comic book my mother gave me would become the basis of a hit TV show, bringing old and young together on common ground.