What happens when you take a bunch of precocious kids who look like they’ve stepped off the set of Gossip Girl and Glee, throw them into a small town which aesthetically isn’t unlike Twin Peaks, give them names from the Archie comic books, chuck in an unsolved murder, sex between a teenager and teacher, and a big dose of back-to-school angst all in the first 10 minutes? You get Riverdale: the new Netflix series that’s set to go as wildly viral and watercooler cool as Stranger Things… only real bitchy.
Riverdale is an American teen drama series based on the characters by Archie Comics but so far removed from Archie and co’s squeaky cleanness, the teens here make the cast of Pretty Little Liars look like honest-to-God angels.
Only having screened four episodes on TV both here and in the U.S., Riverdale is already being surrounded by a similar buzz and hype sensed when Stranger Things first hit our small screens.
Whilst the cast isn’t all that well-known, the characters soon will be: Archie Andrews (played by New Zealand actor K.J. Apa) is torn between girl-next-door Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) and new kid in town Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) while he also happens to be banging his high-school teacher.
Archie’s buddies include Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse, complete with crown-shaped beanie) and Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray), the latter being lead singer of soul-come-funk act Josie and the Pussycats.
Comic book colour meets modern-day noir as this cast of troubled teens see their problems criss-crossing; going through the usual growing pains but with mystery and misdemeanour thrown in for good measure.
While at times, Riverdale‘s subplots seem twee in that Glee kind of way, the mystery and thriller factors raise it from cutesy teen series to something more along the lines of crime drama.
The pop cultural references are aplenty, reminding viewers that while the rural town of Riverdale might look small and quaint in aesthetic, technology and trickery of the modern age looms large.
Watch it with tongue firmly planted in cheek and you’ll appreciate it much, much more. Antonino Tati
‘Riverdale’ streams on Netflix on Friday nights.