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Why RIVERDALE Is the Best New Drama of the Season (SDCC Review)

With so many new shows premiering this upcoming season, it can be a daunting task to pick and choose what is worth watching … and more importantly, what won’t be canceled after only a few weeks of airing. That’s why I’m here to help you wade through what seems like an endless list of new series. I’m on the ground at San Diego Comic-Con for the Preview Night screenings of Riverdale, Powerless, People of Earth, Frequency and Time After Time to give you my snap judgments of these five new Warner Bros. TV shows. I’m watching them all so you don’t have to! Let’s dive deep into my favorite new show: Riverdale.

Okay, I’ll be honest: I thought I was going to hate Riverdale. Ever since it was rumored that The CW was going to develop this show, I was a harsh skeptic. I thought it was going to be total campy trash. I thought it would be a joke. I mean, let’s be honest: when something is described as a gritty adaptation of the Archie Comics mixed with elements of a Twin Peaks murder mystery and Gossip Girl romantic intrigue? Come on. That just sounds like a hodgepodge of random genres thrown into a blender. But oh. My. Archie. I was so wrong.

I can’t even explain how, but somehow, all the elements work together to make a juicy, compelling, thrilling murder mystery with romantic intrigue, messy family drama and complicated relationships between friends and enemies and friends turned enemies and enemies turned friends. It’s addictively fun. And the fact that I need to wait until midseason to see more is a total travesty. Literally the first thing I said to my friend sitting next to me when the screen went black and the screening ended was, “I need more! I need more now!” But nope, thanks to The CW holding Riverdale hostage until midseason, I, along with the rest of the world, have to wait until January for more. Travesty!

But enough complaining about how I have to wait to consume more (especially since I’m one of the lucky few who has even gotten to see the pilot), and let’s get into my review of the hour I did get to see. In short, it was a near-perfect pilot. There were hilarious one-liners, nostalgia galore every time an Archie character appeared onscreen, some intensely gripping teases for what’s sure to be a thrilling mystery, and enough relationship drama to keep me coming back again … and again, and again, and again. Have I mentioned that this is my new favorite drama of the season? Not yet? Okay, consider this my official ruling: Riverdale is the best new drama of the season.

“Archie got hot. He’s got abs now!” Yeah, this isn’t your mom and dad’s Archie. Archie’s jacked, Betty’s got an Adderall problem, Veronica might be bisexual (yes, the Betty/Archie/Veronica love triangle is still alive and well, but just … more complicated in this day and age). These are the millennial versions of the comic characters we all know and love, but instead of inspiring groans when each new layer was peeled back, it just made everything more real. More authentic. More relatable.

But that’s not to say there weren’t moments where I groaned. There were more than a few plot points that had me cringing. Like the fact that Archie is struggling with what I’d like to call the Troy Bolton Conundrum: deciding whether he wants to follow his newfound passion of writing and performing indie ballads, or whether he’ll stay the course his dad wants of him joining the Varsity football team so he can go to a good college. We’ve seen it before a million times. And now we’re going to see it again on Riverdale. Yawn.

Some other things that had me raising my eyebrows: the possibility of twin-cest (Game of Thrones really has changed the TV landscape, huh?!), the predictable teacher/student affair (although I will admit, it serves a purpose, which is revealed near the end of the premiere), and the fact that it’s all being narrated by a character… but seeing as how that narrator is Jughead, I’m more intrigued than annoyed at this point.

But despite the (very few) flaws in the premiere, this is the show that has earned its spot at the very top of my DVR season pass. Riverdale, don’t let me down.

Image: Warner Bros. TV

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