Since the huge success of the suspenseful and sexy Vampire Diaries and Twilight sagas, new series Riverdale purposefully uses similar tropes that are guaranteed to be a win among teens. It’s a quick fix. However – with its lack of witty, political, social and erotic subtleties – Riverdale will most likely only capture the attention of gullible young American kids, or maybe a handful of Irish secondary school students.
After a mysterious narrator explains how this town (like many other towns on TV) is not what it seems, viewers meet the red-headed Blossom twins: Cheryl and Jason. Incestual tension can be felt between the wealthy and weirdly close siblings. Disaster strikes when Jason goes missing, leaving behind no traces except a mascara-drenched Cheryl.
The focus shifts towards Archie. Between football, music, and helping out at his dad’s construction company, the poor protagonist is torn between the three most stereotypical desires of a high school boy. His love life is also in chaos. His attention span for his best friend Betty Cooper is that of a goldfish, as the poor girl does all she can to tell him how deeply she loves him. Then in comes Veronica Lodge – beautiful, rich, attractive, seductive – and Archie’s eyes pop out of his head.
The deeply American attitudes in this drama are past comfort. The archetypes portrayed are so predictable that one can easily take a guess at what each character is bound to say next. As well, some of the scenes which depict Archie’s past love life are just downright odd. In one flashback, Archie walks through his dad’s construction site, taking his shirt off seductively while his young music teacher gives an exaggerated wink on her drive through the site. The scene juts out awkwardly; clumsily hinting at a hidden secret between them. Another tired and overused archetype.
The sole hint of genius in Riverdale is the narration. The narrator (Cole Sprouse) is not the beautiful and seductive Archie, but the wholly average Jughead. It seems he is the creator, writing the story that unfolds before our eyes, while also taking a part in it.
The teen drama serves its purpose but, ultimately, Riverdale restricts itself from reaching a more ample audience due to meagre content, boring script and lack of character novelty.