By Lila Troum
When you hear the word Riverdale you probably cringe instantly. This hot mess of a TV show is best known for constantly baffling its audience, and having some of the worst lines I’ve ever heard from a TV show. Unfortunately and ironically, I have seen all five seasons (except half of season four) of this show because it is so bad it’s good. If you’re looking for a TV show that’ll make you go what just happened? every ten minutes, this is a show I recommend. But, it still is bad and I’m going to point out the elements that make it so bad that I can’t help but watch because I question how much more ridiculous it can get.
Before I point out the nasty details about this show, I think it’s only fair that I point out the few positive parts in this show, because there are some and they deserve recognition. Something I quite like about this show is its setting. A surprising amount of this show takes place in the woods, and I think that the show’s “aesthetic” works well with that. The houses fit the characters perfectly and little details add quite a bit for me. Another thing that I like about the show is a few of the characters, and I truly mean only a few. Most of the characters make me want to vomit, but I look forward to the screentime that some of the good characters (in my opinion) get. It’s mostly the parents, specifically Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick), Fred Andrews (Luke Perry), and F.P Jones (Skeet Ulrich.) They’re a little bit funny and they add a lot to the show for me. My favorite character, though, was Vegas the dog, who makes very few appearances, which is unfortunate.
There are five seasons of Riverdale; season 5 is still airing on the CW with new episodes on Wednesday nights. Each season manages to be more ridiculous than the last, which I thought was impossible after season 3, but, they proved me wrong. Let’s start with season 1 and it’s, compared to the other seasons, good plot. Season 1 gave me hope that this show would turn into something good. The drama, the plot twists, the character development were there and they were good. Of course, there were aspects that I hated and added absolutely nothing to the show, but, overall, it was a pretty good season. I had high expectations for season 2 and Riverdale could not have let me down more. A gruesome murderer is on a rampage, and somehow, these four teenagers, who are supposed to be sixteen/seventeen, are putting more effort into this than the actual sheriff’s department. And they solve it. And, of course, it wouldn’t be Riverdale without throwing in the plot twist that: oh right, it’s actually the main character’s father! It was pure madness, this season. I didn’t know what to expect in season 3, so I was gravely unprepared for the insanity that the Riverdale writers threw at us. A cult. Yes, a cult. Here’s the kicker: it’s a ruse so that the leader can illegally harvest organs and sell them. I wish I was joking. I only watched the second half of season 4, so my knowledge on it is little-to-none, but I do remember it being unrealistic and stupid, but that is not surprising. Though we’re only five episodes into season 5, I can already see that it’s going to be a trainwreck. I’d love to give it the benefit of the doubt, but I really can’t at this point considering what I’ve already seen: a seven-year time jump into the future. I’m unsure what the plot is quite yet, but there’s already madness stirring, and I’m very excited to see what’s to come as the plot unfolds.
The Plot Twists
I had to make a separate section for plot twists, just because there were so many. And, throughout the seasons, they used the same surprises over and over to the point where it was farfetched but predictable. Season 1’s plot twist/surprise was good, it made sense as it was kind of a whodunnit season, so the surprise of oh it was the dad was a bit expected, but I still was satisfied with it. Season two was just filled to the brim with plot twists/surprises. Multiple siblings appear out of thin air and we get the same it was the father plot twist again. I was not expecting the whole new sibling comes into play idea, as both siblings were just not mentioned until this season, so it almost felt like the writers were just throwing in action to throw in action. They did add to the plot, and one of them was recurring enough that they were critical for future seasons, however, this did entail a plot twist on top of a plot twist. Fake brother pretending to be real brother, he gets caught, says he killed the real brother, but real brother appears in a future season and we find out that these two were dating the whole time. I absolutely lost my mind and if you didn’t follow that it’s okay, because it makes no sense. Did it work at the time? Yeah, sure, the writers clearly had to make things up as they were going along, leaving plot hole after plot hole in their trail. Season 3’s plot twist was the cult being a front to illegally sell organs, there was another secret killer, blah blah blah, was incredibly farfetched and did not make any sense. Season 4’s plot twist/surprise was, and my memory is a bit blurred on this, that a thirteen-year-old girl, a main character’s little sister, was somehow an auteur making horrific films to terrify her older brother. Absolutely horrific, I couldn’t wrap my head around it, and, to be honest, I still can’t. Season 5 is already diving deep into chaos, and I’m excited to see what the Riverdale writers are going to pull out of thin air this time.
The characters in this show are truly horrible. The acting is fine, I guess, but the characters: their personalities, the fact that they are being played by actors that are nine years older than them, it’s just too much.
Archie Andrews: Yuck. KJ Apa is not a bad actor, in fact, I’d dare to say that he’s mediocre. However, Archie Andrews is a bad character. He is a walking cliche: captain of the football team, not the smartest, he’s your textbook jock. Out of everyone in this show, I think that Archie is involved in the worst plotlines. His dialogue has made me laugh a few times, though it was the case where he was not intentionally making a joke. Archie also had plotlines with potential that the writers just completely disregarded. In season 1 they set him up with a Troy Bolton complex: jock gets involved with music. But, unlike Troy Bolton, his music career just disappears after a season and we don’t really hear about it again. I found this to be one of the believable plot lines, and I was confused as to why they got rid of it as they could’ve developed a plethora of believable plot lines that could’ve connected through this. Though, I am glad there’s less singing because of it, which is a topic I’ll get into later.
Veronica Lodge: Everything about Veronica is just… bad. Her lines, her attitude, she’s just a character I cannot stand. Every word that comes out of her mouth is, in some way, unbearable to hear. They’ve given her the vocabulary of an English professor and outfits that only Blair Waldorf can pull off. Her plot constantly revolves around her evil father, and he’s constantly a villain that’s just never stopped. She also uses phrases like ‘daddykins,’ which makes me question if the writers have ever interacted with a high school junior before. Veronica also cannot sing, which I think is something the writers need to consider before allowing her to drag Beyonce’s name in the mud again through an awful cover.
Jughead Jones: I think the name Jughead says enough about this character. I understand that this is based on the Archie comics, however, it still does not sit right with me. Overall, Jughead is an okay character to me. I’m not just saying this because he’s a writer and I also happen to like writing, but he’s one of the characters that I can actually tolerate being on screen. I also like that he’s not like the other characters in the first season in terms of home life. Seeing a character whose father struggles with addiction is comforting in a way that shows a little bit of realism in this show, and they give viewers, who may be mirroring this same situation, the thought that this is common and that they aren’t alone, especially when Riverdale’s demographic is a younger audience. Cole Sprouse, however, cannot pass for a sixteen-year-old, which is incredibly noticeable and fairly distracting when they’re (rarely) in a high school setting.
Betty Cooper: In all honesty, I like Betty. She’s not at all realistic but she’s simple, she’s not as out there as other characters, and she’s levelheaded, unlike a lot of the other characters. She’s passionate about something, too, which earns my respect, because a lot of the characters on this show don’t tend to have something that sticks, other than being good-looking. Betty is also a journalist and writes for her school newspaper! She’s also passionate about the justice system, and the writers are consistent about that throughout the series, which I enjoy. Of course, Betty does have her downfalls, such as incredibly tacky lines and her overall demeanor, but, in the long run, she’s a pretty good character.
Cheryl Blossom: Cheryl Blossom is the worst character on this show. Without a doubt or hesitation in my mind, I can confidently say that she is my least favorite character. She is tacky, cringe-worthy, and obnoxious. She has the worst dialogue, and she is, to put it merely, psychotic. On multiple occasions, she has committed vulgar acts, such as keeping her dead brother’s corpse in her basement, as well as openly admitting to committing arson and attempting to kill her mother. I will give credit where credit is due, though, as Cheryl is a character who struggles with her sexuality, which is something that teenagers can definitely relate to, and it’s fantastic to see that televised, especially when it’s being broadcasted to a younger audience. Cheryl is also a character who is, unfortunately, sexually assaulted in an episode that prompts Riverdale with the conversation about misogyny and gender inequality, which is also something that needs to be addressed amongst a younger audience, so that representation and acknowledgment are admirable. Cheryl also has the best character development from the beginning of season 1 to now.
Though there are more characters I could discuss, I think I should refrain from doing so and move on.
The number of performances the characters give in this show is astronomically high. It’s incredibly unfortunate that the writers gave the characters’ songs, presumably saw the backlash, and continued to make musical episodes. Season 1 in this show does have a small band made of three singers, so their performances were expected and validated. However, just about everybody in this show sings and the majority of the cast lacks this talent, which makes the songs excruciatingly painful to hear.
I should also note that while I believe the singing is bad, it can be viewed as okay in the grand scheme of it all. My point that it’s bad purely has to do with the fact that these are professional actors and actresses, some who were not designed to sing, but do so anyway.
Riverdale has given us multiple episodes revolving around a high school musical, so naturally, there is singing involved. This show takes it farther, though, singing outside of school about situations that barely make sense to what is going on, and to further understand this you’d need prior knowledge of the musical they’re performing at that time to understand how fabricated these scenes are and how they’re added just so the cast can sing. For example, the cast put on the off-broadway musical Heathers, which is a musical that I know pretty well, and multiple scenes seemed designed for certain songs that added nothing to the plotline. The opening song to Heathers is the song Beautiful, which is a great song that sets the scene for the musical itself. Riverdale chose to perform this and it just wasn’t necessary and was poorly performed. I would highly recommend looking this performance up on YouTube, as the choreography is also something to witness as it is, like the singing, bad. I truly think that ten-year-olds could dance better than the cast of Riverdale.
Another thing this show constantly does is just throw in small performances here and there. Veronica Lodge is a character who sings quite a few songs that are not critical to the plot. It seems as though the writers were just trying to fill time and so they added in these performances. I’d debate that the songs sang somewhat connect to the storyline, but it’s an iffy statement, because some of them, such as the performance of All That Jazz, are random and annoying, and unnecessary. Riverdale has also done the deed of ruining songs for me. Riverdale has ruined Beyonce’s Daddy Lessons as well as Milkshake by Kelis. I used to associate Milkshake with the iconic movie Mean Girls, but now when I think of that song I can only picture the garbage cover Riverdale produced in an episode. Veronica also sang Daddy Lessons which was a justified song to sing given Veronica’s situation at the time, though it would’ve been better if there’d be no performance at all.
Let’s also not forget about that one performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EpRRUdxRZg (1:33)
Why Would You Want To Watch This?
Despite the high amount of bad things I’ve mentioned about this show, I highly recommend you watch it. I’m a sucker for TV shows/movies that are so bad they’re good, and Riverdale fits perfectly into this category. Its plots are bad, the characters are infuriatingly obnoxious, but this show is so entertaining. For anyone interested, seasons 1-4 are on Netflix, and season 5 is streaming on the CW!
Just For Fun: My Favorite Lines
Riverdale is also probably known for the cringe-worthy statements it produces, and it wouldn’t be fair to not include any, so below I’m just going to list a few that are horribly written and hilarious, especially in an out of context format.
Jughead: “Have you ever noticed how different we are? Like on a cellular DNA kind of level?”
Archie: “Well, this one time I boxed a bear.”
Yes, that was a plot.
Archie: “That means you haven’t known the triumphs and defeats, the epic highs and lows of high school football.”
Jughead: “In case you haven’t noticed, I’m weird. I’m a weirdo. I don’t fit in and I don’t wanna fit in. Have you ever seen me without this stupid hat on? That’s weird.”
Betty: “I’m sorry, Donna, but I’m the ultimate wild card. I am the daughter of The Black Hood. The nightmare from next door.”
Charles (detective): “Actually, [these serial killers] all have one thing in common, a specific set of genes. The CDH13 genes, the serial killer genes.”
There are tons more, but I suggest you watch to find them out.