Since Archie comics’ debut in the 1940s, they have charmed youngsters for decades. The comedic themes of Archie and the gang are like a cup of hot cocoa in the winter: classic and comforting. Riverdale is far from this.
The reboot and artistic style change of 2015 for Archie comics was big news for the fans. The series reboots and the comics that we know and love turns to Classic Archie. A part of this new launch is the TV series, Riverdale, and it’s definitely something.
I was out of touch with the comics for the past years, and it’s a surprise to see Riverdale, a darker undertone to the town. Riverdale is a separate universe than the new Archie series, but there is a lot of similarity. It is not out of the blue though, from a series that is not new to mystery, crime, and horror. The comic has dealt with more pressing issues in Afterlife with Archie and Married Life.
It’s safe to say that it is not a sudden turn of style and narrative. It is rather an exploration on a more serious narrative and genre.
One of the main elements of the change are the characters. The main ones they call the core four, has been around for decades. Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica are iconic and memorable. You can name them even without reading the latest digests. Or even being remotely a fan. Each of them fit specific traits, and fans prefer this maintained.
Riverdale balances on this narrative borderline between new and classic, making it familiar yet distinct at the same time. So let’s explore that. I will only talk the baseline of the characters as they are introduced and portrayed, so not much spoilers here.
The actual character bases of Archie Andrews are the phrases “eager to lend a hand” and “romantic”. This by far is also portrayed in Riverdale. Archie is still lovable as he is but takes these phrases as character motivations. He decides on actions that he thinks is best for everyone.
This attitude, of course, bites back. Before conceived as a clumsy kid, now comes across as reckless. This Archie wears his heart on his sleeve and loyal to those he cares for. He seldom thinks through his decisions, and this drives conflict and puts him in trouble more often.
Jughead is Archie’s best friend since childhood. Knowing only romance in food, he is the opposite of Archie. Jughead is unromantic, witty and out-of-the-loop. At least that’s how the classic is.
His snark and humor is still ever-present in Riverdale. Out of the four, Jughead is one of the characters that most borderlines the classic character. The development of his story is from the narrative itself, instead of the classic source. Jughead is the narrator of the show, which mirrors some of his detective series.
Aside from a few lines of humor, Jughead rarely connects with his one and only: food. This version of Jughead has more passion towards the idea of home, and of old Riverdale. Passionate of this, he steps out of his aloof personality to fight for causes he deeply cares for.
Veronica is the very definition of high fashion and high society. This girl came in later in the Archie Comics as Archie’s second love interest.
She is usually pegged as the new girl in the small town, coming from the big city. The circumstances of the move, and where from, varies across publications. But nonetheless, this puts her in a fish-out-of-water situation.
Riverdale starts off the story the same way, with Ronnie the unknown variable to the core four. Veronica is charismatic, but this comes across in the story’s narrative as both a good and a bad point. Being a former mean girl, this makes her a good ally to have at your side, and a vengeful spirit otherwise.
The Cooper family in Riverdale is the perfect family with Betty being the perfect child. An excellent model student, Betty embodies the sweet and perfect girl-next-door.
That being literal, she lives next door to Archie. Her story still reflects the longstanding crush she had on him since they were little. Despite the spotless reputation, she has urges to break out of her perfect and innocent image. There seems to be a part of her where darkness dwells.
It’s also worth noting that the Archie comics introduced other compelling characters over the years. Cheryl, Josie, and Kevin to name a few have also made quite an impression on the show with their own renditions.
As far as the core four, there have been many departures from the classic characters that we all know and love. But Archie Comics has already done this in their new series of Archie from 2015. The show is one of the more popular avenues to showcase that change.
There is more to explore about the characters as the writers try to flesh out their stories. Another interesting aspect they bring to the table are the parents having their own depth in the show. As the story continues, the more we learn about the residents of Riverdale.
Many would say that the portrayals and the character direction on this show