Riverdale – “The River’s Edge”


My old friend Brontielle got in touch with me last week wanting to catch up. We were once very close, so I was eager to see her again to make up for lost time. No transgression fell against either party, just the divergent currents of time leading us astray. We met at Dave & Buster’s (naturally). We found that the current iterations of one another had very little in common. She was the creative lead in Snapchat’s filter division, I play ultimate frisbee. She’s a published poet, I vape competitively. She professed her love for horses, I’m afraid of ducks.

Towards the end of our conversation, though, she did drop a particularly tantalizing conversational lure. She asked me if I watched Riverdale. The name took the air out of lungs. My mind was transported back in time. I’m 7 years old, waiting in line at the local drugmart; nasal steroids, stool softener and a wax flushing kit in hand. The colour had entirely drained from my life. That is, until my eyes landed upon the Archie digest on the newsstand. Poppy artwork of young teens gleefully traversing the rocky landscape of highschool in Riverdale. It was the highlight of my young life. I didn’t buy it, however – my mother only gave exact change, as this was an order I’d been sent to buy many times over. So I never found out what happened in those gloriously coloured pages. That is until now. I snapped back to reality, bid Brontielle a hasty adieu and rushed back home to sink my teeth into the fictional world of Riverdale.

Riverdale, A CW production broadcasted internationally by Netflix, aims to answer the question: what if the zany, old-fashioned, light-hearted antics of the Archie comics were mixed with a brooding and sexy teen murder-mystery? More importantly, what if Archie were HOT? What if Jughead blasted cigs? What if Grundy raped her students?  A network exec at the CW excitedly stands and then quickly sits back down to conceal his erection. Yes to all that, he says, but make ALL of them hot, have them ALL sleep with one another, kill one and have the rest figure it out. And thus, Riverdale was born.

Archie Andrews is 15, HOT, and loaded with problems. First off, every girl he meets falls madly in love with him. Second, he’s too good at football. Coach wants him to play quarterback for the Varsity team, even though he’s just a sophomore, which is getting in the way of his true passion, music. Archie tries to take music lessons but again is faced with the fact that he is simply too attractive. His music teacher, Mrs. Grundy, can’t keep her adult hands off of this 15 year old boy. As an added pressure, he has a successful construction company founded by his father to fall back on if all else fails. Talk about adversity.

Betty is 15, HOT, and in love with her long time best friend/next door neighbor, Archie Andrews. In short, Betty’s mom sucks and her sister’s crazy. More on that later, surely.

Veronica is 15, HOT, and surprisingly well versed in the works of Truman Capote as well as the BMI of January Jones throughout the filming of Mad Men. If you study the subtext of her dialogue and the nuances of her body language, she gives off subtle hints that she might be from New York.

Jughead is 15, slightly less hot than the others and blasts cigs. And, boy does he have a bone to pick with former friend, Archie. He’ll be the first to tell you (and he is) that sardonic humour is just how he connects with the world.

Kevin is 15, gay and friends with Betty.

The episode opens on the banks of a river and my heart is practically in my throat. This is where ducks live. I’m holding my breath, anxiously waiting to see what’ll come next. Thankfully it was just some dumb girl reacting to her brother drowning in the river. Phew, close one.

That dumb girl’s name is Cheryl Blossom and her dumb dead brother is Jason Blossom. The two of them were on what our narrator called a “boat-trip” but given the music, the all-white formal attire (who wears white lace gloves to go boating?) and the holding of hands it looked more like a midsummer suicide pact with an incestuous undertone.

The show did have a few self aware moments, though. Kevin, the sassy gay man that he is, comments on Cheryl’s open invitation to cheerleading tryouts with the oh so devastating burn “cheerleading is still a thing?”. Cheryl, no dullard, has a sharp retort – “being the gay best friend is still a thing?”, The writer’s way of saying, we know it’s a trope, but in all honesty, we could not possibly care less.

During their audition, Cheryl thinks Betty and Veronica’s routine lacks HEAT so being the progressive urbanite that she is, Veronica says I got this and initiates a passionate makeout with an unsuspecting Betty. Unimpressed, Cheryl unleashes this uncompromising dinger, “Faux lesbian kissing hasn’t been taboo since 1994”. Keep in mind 1994 was a full 7 years before any of these characters were born so that’s a devastating historical burn in my books.

I imagine the lesbian kiss wasn’t there initially until the show was screened to the still erect CW exec. He stands up, livid, then sits back down hastily. Why aren’t the broads kissing, he yells to no one in particular, I greenlit this show to see hot teens go at each other! We got a 2001 born child commenting on 90’s lesbianism out of his horniness so I mustn’t chastise the erect exec.

The big event of the pilot episode is the back-to-school dance. Upon arrival Veronica notes, “Well, it’s not the MET ball” (The MET ball is a very famous gala for the rich and famous held in NEW YORK CITY, from where I have a sneaking suspicion Veronica might hail). Betty absolutely blows her chances by asking Archie to accompany both her AND Veronica to the dance. No wonder your sister’s a fucking lunatic, Betty. A bunch of emotional shit happened between those three but it was all overshadowed by the line of the night said by Gay Kevin, “You’ll never guess who propositioned me in the bathroom. His name may be Moose but I’d describe a certain appendage of his as HORSE-like”

Kevin and Mooseman HorseCock go down to the river to find Veronica yelling “Well it’s no Hudson!” They avoid contact so they can discreetly bone but instead find dumb dead Jason Blossom’s bloated water logged body with a -shocker-  bullet hole in his head.



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