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I think Beverly Hills 90210 (aka BH-Niner in the halls of my addicted fraternity) was the last time I had a deliciously juicy high school melodrama in my life, but I’m happy to say that The CW’s Riverdale, which just launched Season two, is currently filling that void. And no doubt about it, I missed watching beautiful people doing sordid things in the name of growing up.

“Outwardly, Archie looks pretty much how you’d expect him to, updated for the millennial crowd, some 70 years after the original comic character’s creation. The same goes for the town of Riverdale itself, but this isn’t post-WWII suburbia anymore. Look beyond the perfect façade, and you see the small town has dirty roots, and everyone is tangled up within.”

That these beautiful actors are legally older than the high school kids they portray hopefully makes that statement a little less icky. But let’s be honest, I’m just buying what the show is selling. And selling it well, too, as we are talking about high school, and that’s a time when most people are at their horniest, most curious, most rebellious, and most willing to follow their hearts. So yeah, sordid situations are going to pop up.

Though mostly pure of heart, the reimagined Archie Comics characters of Riverdale High can’t seem to avoid the town’s multi-generational dirt, which all comes gurgling up when the captain of the football team, Jason Blossom, gets murdered. Against the background of this murder mystery, a high school drama unfolds, starring awkward yet glorious ginger KJ Apa as Archie Andrews, Blossom’s former teammate, aspiring folk singer, and the letterman-jacket-wearing embodiment of the perfect kid.

Outwardly, Archie looks pretty much how you’d expect him to, updated for the millennial crowd, some 70 years after the original comic character’s creation. The same goes for the town of Riverdale itself, but this isn’t post-WWII suburbia anymore. Look beyond the perfect façade, and you see the small town has dirty roots, and everyone is tangled up within.

Personally speaking, the only thing I remember about Archie Comics is that Archie did not deserve the love of Betty the blonde, and Veronica the brunette, that Jughead wore a funny hat and may have been hungry a lot, and that Josie and the Pussycats played all the school dances.

Somehow 2017’s version (the comics have been updated as well, btw) satisfies all those memories, while at the same time serving up surprising takes on the archetypes. For example, Betty Cooper isn’t just a hot blonde, she’s also one of the smartest, most sensitive girls in school, who isn’t about to take any bullying, slut shaming, or murdering going down in Riverdale. And the Pussycats still play “Candy Girl (Sugar Sugar),” but now it’s just the hook of a dope hip-hop/dance tune.

Essentially, this same-America-but-different theme is what makes Riverdale so fun, and of course the high school aspect, heck I even get Luke Perry playing Archie’s dad, just to scratch that Dylan McKay itch I didn’t realize was acting up. Who knew I’d grow up to miss such a place as high school?

 

Adam Pockross
About the Author

LA via Seattle via Vail via Syracuse via Denver via Chicago via the universe. Adam Freeman Pockross was raised by an English teacher mother, who, despite overbearing guilt, still managed to instill a passion for words – particularly those lovingly laced with alliteration. Over the years of over-education, Adam has professionally written about a vast array of subjects, including arts & entertainment, wine, the environment, cars, kids (though he has none), and, most embarrassingly, dick jokes. He’s also unprofessionally working on a digital children’s book for adults and playing in Playa del Rey's biggest rock n' roll cover band (as judged by member count, not popularity).

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