Have you ever thought that merging the teen melodramatic angst of The OC with the murder mystery of Twin Peaks would make an epic series? You’re not wrong. The CW’s Riverdale is a new teen drama which is a 2017 update of the Archie comic books, known for the lovable, innocent hijinks of Archie Andrews and his squad. 2017 Riverdale is not your step-mother’s Archie. The dark, twisted plot is filled with shady secrets lurking in the hallways of the high school, football field, and Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe.
In this remake, the gang’s all here and accounted for – from Archie Andrews and Jughead Jones to Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge. However, that’s about as much of the classic 1940’s Archie that we’re going to see in this series. While it’s obvious that the characters and the overall theme diverge from the comics, rest assured that respect is still paid to the original series. It’s worth pointing out that you’ll see familiar faces from pop culture days gone by, like an appearance from Beverly Hills, 9021o’s Luke Perry, who plays Archie’s father, and Pretty in Pink star and 1980s icon Molly Ringwald plays Archie’s mother.
While every reboot usually contains some major changes, and this new series no different, one of the big questions you probably should ask yourself when making a new Archie show is how much you play to the fans versus those who have never read an Archie comic book before. Here’s a rundown of the major difference you’ll see in this series from the classic comic book.
15. The Story Is Set Around A Murder Mystery
If you haven’t read an Archie comic book in years, the CW’s new Riverdale could shock you, and not just because Archie Andrews is a heartthrob.
Riverdale isn’t set around innocent high school hijinks and soda pop shops like you may be familiar with in the original Archie comics. While Riverdale has nostalgic throwback roots, the show also marks significant changes, specifically, the murder of Cheryl Blossom’s twin brother, Jason, in the pilot episode. In this adaptation, Riverdale has been transformed into a town full of deceit, secrets, betrayal and student-teacher romance. The familiar cartoon gang is sexed up and full of current pop culture references – bringing them into the 21st century. While the comics have also changed quite a bit since the very first Archie issue, Riverdale brings those changes to light. Everything in Riverdale is just a little darker and more complex, more suited to 2017 than 1940.
14. Archie Is A Heartthrob
For more than 70 years, Archie Andrews was showcased as America’s quintessential teenager: a clumsy, freckled face ginger who loves playing guitar, hanging out with Jughead, and putting too much effort into impressing the ladies of Riverdale. Today, Archie is still seen as an all-American teen that we remember fondly, a good kid who just wants to make everyone happy. However, keeping up that perfect appearance is tearing our “Archiekins” apart. Riverdale Archie is more troubled, less awkward, more brooding, less nerdy, and has been showing off his six-pack with a ton of shirtless scenes. Archie still loves his music, Betty and Veronica, and hanging out with his gang, but this reboot focuses less on the love triangle that is Betty, Veronica, and Archie and more on his scandalous affair with his high school teacher, Miss Grundy. (It’s not what you think – Miss Grundy is young and hot now!).
13. Jughead Is A Broody Loner
Archie’s lifelong best friend and burger loving goof in the comics is now a broody writer who is in a continuous rift with Archie. In the original comics, he’s the string bean BFF who serves as comic relief. In Riverdale, he’s one of the most, if not the most, complex character who serves as the show’s narrator. He still wears a crown beanie, but he wears it while hanging out at the cafe all night and drinking black coffee while writing a book about the town’s dark secrets. We haven’t even seen him eat a single burger! Perhaps the foremost difference between comic Jughead and Riverdale Jughead is the weird rift that’s going on between him and Archie. We’re not really sure why the two are at odds with each other, but we suspect it might have something to do with the dark secrets that Jughead is writing about.
12. Betty’s Character Is Deep
When you think of Betty Cooper, you think of the wholesome, bubbly, blonde girl next door. While Riverdale Betty still appears like this on the outside, it’s hinted that there’s more to Betty than meets the eye. She is repressing some dark family issues. Sweet Betty is coping with a dysfunctional family and a sister who is dealing with mental health issues since the death of Jason Blossom. Unlike her comic counterpart, Betty has to put up with the constant pressure from her mother to be perfect. She’s struggling with her relationship with her mother – she can’t really trust her. Just like we remember, Riverdale Betty is madly in love with her best friend Archie. What differs from the original relationship is that she struggles getting Archie interested in her romantically since they’re neighbors and have been best friends since they were kids.
11. Alice Cooper Is A Manipulative Mother
Alice Cooper is the editor of the local paper in Riverdale and can be described as a hard-nosed perfectionist who places exceedingly high expectations on her daughters – Betty and Polly. The TV version of Mrs. Cooper is a bit more ruthless than her comic counterpart, pushing her daughters to be perfect at any cost. If you think back to the comic books you probably forgot that the Cooper parents were even there. There was basically nothing distinguishing about them except for the fact that they were exceedingly nice people. In Riverdale, Alice is seen as a monster, stirring up drama in the community, forcing her daughter to take Adderall, and being an overall horrible person to everyone around her.
10. Veronica Isn’t A Mean Girl
In the comics, Veronica Lodge is known as the classic mean girl and heiress to her tycoon father. She has never had to deal with much conflict except for superficial issues like when she’ll get to go shopping next or how can she get Archie to fall in love with her. In Riverdale, it seems Veronica is painted in a much kinder light. She deals with real conflicts and has moved to town without her father after a financial scandal. Veronica is still wealthy, but has been humbled since Daddy’s been locked up. She’s more concerned with starting over with a clean slate and breaking away from her family’s bad reputation while establishing her own identity. She’ll do so with the help of Betty and Archie, who, in the classic comics, were two thirds of Veronica’s love triangle. Instead, one person will ultimately matter more to Veronica, and hint – it’s not Archie.
9. Miss Grundy Is A Young Hottie
Fans of the classic comics will remember the gang’s teacher, Ms. Grundy, as the cardigan wearing, grey haired, strict matriarch and English teacher. If we ever saw her interacting with the students outside of class, it was to berate them for showing up late to class or failing their latest test. Riverdale Miss Grundy has been completely revamped into a thirty-something sexual predator. She’s the school’s mysterious music teacher who’s in a forbidden steamy relationship with a student, and not just any student – Archie! When she’s out around town she acts like one of her students, but at Riverdale High, she hides behind big black glasses and wears her hair in a tight bun. Without a doubt, Miss Grundy’s character has been the most altered in the reboot of this series.
8. The Sexual Identity of Some Characters Has Changed
There is so much happening in the romantic lives of Riverdale High teens that it’s hard to keep up. For most of Archie history, Jughead has displayed more interest in burgers and shakes than romantic relationships. That all changed in a 2015 comic when he officially came out as asexual. How awesome is that? Jughead is one of very few asexual characters to headline a mainstream comic. However, much like the entire 2017 series, Jughead’s sexuality received a drastic reboot and it seems he’ll now have romantic relationships with women.
Remember Moose Mason’s girlfriend from the comics, Midge? She doesn’t exist in the series! Moose is now a closeted gay man and has his eyes set on Kevin Keller, everyone’s gay best friend. The last scene of one episode shows Kevin and Moose discovering the body of Jason Blossom as they headed down to the lake for some action after the dance.
7. Betty And Veronica’s Rivalry Is Almost Non-Existent
In the comics, it’s always been Betty vs. Veronica, blonde vs. brunette, sweetheart vs. vixen, intertwined in a lover’s triangle with Archie despite being friends with each other. For 70 years, the two teens have been pitted against each other to win Archie’s affection – enough is enough! In the 2017 reboot the two girls share a refreshing relationship – they’re friends! In fact, the girls share a friendly kiss in episode 1.
It would appear Betty and Veronica’s entire plot line isn’t going to revolve around them fighting over Archie. Initially, Archie is clearly intrigued by Veronica, but once Veronica finds out that Betty is in love with him, she immediately backs off. This would never happen in the comic. We’re certain that at some point in the series we’ll see tension between the two, but right now we love the strong female characters on Riverdale.
6. Cheryl Blossom Loves Chaos
Jason Blossom’s death rocked the small town of Riverdale all summer long. However, the grim cloud that looms over Riverdale got a bit darker in episode 2, with the arrest of Cheryl Blossom in connection to the death of her brother. Cheryl Blossom is the ruthless queen bee of the high school. She’s the captain of the cheer squad, the most popular girl in town, and a master of manipulation. It appears that she’s also making it her life mission to make Betty Cooper’s life a living hell. In the series, it is understood that Betty’s sister, Polly, dated Cheryl’s twin brother before he died. We also know that their relationship meant a lot more to her than it did to him. But what we don’t know is why Cheryl is so mean to Betty. It’s not quite the Cheryl we remember from the comics!
5. The Pop Culture References are Unavoidable
With its vintage, soda fountain aesthetic and classic cars, it’s difficult to tell at first that Riverdale is set in 2017 and not 1950. The adults that are cast as the teens of Riverdale are riddled with pop culture savvy dialogue to fit the part of hip high school students. Dropping references to Man Men, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Goonies, Justin Timberlake, and referring to Archie as a hipster, Riverdale does an excellent job paying homage to the many teen dramas that paved the way, while also proclaiming its place within it. The pop culture references ground the Archie comics characters in the 21st century and will help new audiences get to know the iconic teenagers throughout the series.
4. Josie And The Pussycats Are Here!
If you weren’t a huge Archie comics fan you might not know that over the years, the comics spun off other hit series including Josie and the Pussycats and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. So far only Josie and her girl band have turned up on Riverdale. The band originated in Riverdale High and made their appearance in the pilot episode of Riverdale. They also had a successful live action movie back in 2001. In the comics, Josie plays guitar and sings lead vocals, and she’s generally the sweet one in the group. 2017 Josie is still an aspiring pop star who doesn’t leave her house without her iconic pussycat ears, but she plays a stronger female role who will do anything to succeed. Will we be seeing more spin-off characters like Sabrina Spellman and her witchy ways on Riverdale? We hope so!
3. There Is A Ton Of Diversity
I think it’s safe to say that no one is under the impression that the comics were culturally diverse. Riverdale is no longer just white kids from the right side of town. There are black people, homosexuals, and even gangs. All sorts of topics are touched on: slut shaming, life on social media, and people coming to terms with their homosexuality. The reboot has managed to update the series by bringing in a more diverse crew. Veronica and her mother are Latina, Reggie is Asian, and Josie and the Pussycats are an all black girl band. The best part is none of these characters come loaded with racial stereotypes. The show is light years ahead of the comic books with regards to diversity and it’s all the better for it.
2. Luke Perry Returns To Teen Drama
As a nod to what you can call the 90s version of Archie, Beverly Hills, 90210, Luke Perry is back in our hearts but in a new zip code. Perry returns to high school drama playing Archie’s dad, Fred Andrews, who clearly got a makeover for the TV series. Fred Andrews is the owner of a construction firm that Archie worked at all summer to get that six-pack we see so much of. Just like the comics, Fred wants Archie to someday take over the family business, but on Riverdale, Archie wants nothing to do with it, dreaming of life outside of Riverdale and battling his own troublesome issues. Combine Perry with another late 20th century favorite, Molly Ringwald who plays Archie’s mother and we have a perfect recipe for teen drama nostalgia.
1. Divorce Is Everywhere
Back in the 1940s and 1950s, divorce wasn’t common or even talked about, so the families in the original Archie comics were as wholesome as June Cleaver and her boys. The adults in the comic always had strong marriages and encouraged their kids to follow their hearts and do the right thing. In this day and age, not everyone’s parents are still married. Riverdale reflects that by splitting up a lot of the characters’ parents. Fred and Mary Andrews are not married, although we’re not sure what happened. Veronica’s parents, Hiram and Hermione Lodge are split up as well (although that probably has something to do with Hiram’s imprisonment for fraud). While all of the couples may not be divorced, it’s good to see Riverdale demonstrating the reality of today’s relationships.