When Riverdale released their first trailer months back, it caused quite a stir. It was clear that this wasn’t the wholesome Archie comic that we all grew up with. It was the complete opposite.
What we got was an angsty mystery thriller that’s similar to Pretty Little Liars since it’s about finding Jason Blossom’s killer. I’m not saying it’s a bad series for changing everything from the style to the characters’ personalities. Once you look past the bad line delivery, it’s honestly intriguing.
However, we’re also not going to overlook what makes this once-innocent story messed up. As of writing, the series now has seven episodes and is currently on a three-week break. This gives us the perfect time to go back on what’s happened so far.
#1 Statutory rape disguised as romance
In the show, Archie isn’t going back and forth between Betty and Veronica like in the comics. Instead he’s smitten by his music teacher Geraldine Grundy, who he had a summer fling with. That alone is problematic because of the age difference (Archie’s a high school sophomore in the series) and it’s practically illegal to date your students.
What’s more bothersome is that the show portrayed it as a forbidden romance. Let’s be real here: it’s romanticized statutory rape. At some point, Geraldine took advantage of Archie to save herself from being investigated—not only for being a possible witness to Jason’s murder, but also the fact that she used the identity of a deceased woman. (In case you didn’t know, Ms. Grundy was originally the elderly high school principal in the comics.)
Polygon also raised a good argument about this. Since the series featured an attractive female teacher and male student, how come it’s considered “sexy”? They write, “If the genders were reversed in the situation, and we had an adult male teacher and a female teenage student, would it be taken as lightly?”
#2 Dual personality
My favorite episode so far was when Betty and Veronica fought the football team for slut-shaming girls. It was the girl power episode everyone needed.
This was also the episode wherein Betty had a breakdown and almost drowned one of the football players for victimizing her sister, Polly. Not to mention that she claimed to be Polly while angrily shouting at the guy. This sparked suspicion among viewers on whether Betty murdered Jason or not since he was in a relationship with Polly.
We still don’t know who killed him, by the way. So let’s move on to the next point.
#3 A whole new level of family dysfunction
TV shows and films have their fair share of imperfect families. But for some reason, this show upped the ante on this aspect.
Betty’s parents sent her sister away to a “special cases” home, insisting she was sick. When in fact (spoiler alert) she’s pregnant with Jason’s baby. Why? Because they don’t have a good relationship with the Blossoms.
On the other hand, the Blossoms want to keep their perfect rich family so bad that they’re willing to hide their daughter Cheryl in boarding school. Just so she can stop looking for her twin brother’s murderer. (Though, I’d appreciate an episode without her because she overdramatizes EVERYTHING.)
#4 Lack of sexual representation
Riverdale modernized the retro plot that we’re all familiar with. But there’s also controversy about the lack of sexual representation in the series, particularly when it comes to Jughead’s asexuality.
Last year, the comic’s writers revealed that Jughead is asexual—meaning he isn’t sexually attracted to anyone. This revelation was a turning point since there’s now representation of asexuality in mainstream media. Sadly, the series decided to omit this aspect in Jughead’s personality to turn him into a mysterious heartthrob.
Another issue that was brought up was the fact that the show “queerbaited” people, making them think that Betty and Veronica will have a lesbian relationship based on one of their trailers. This theory was immediately shot down by actress Lili Reinhart. This begs the question: Did they create this sexual tension between Betty and Veronica because it looks sexy?
Other than that, the show only features one openly gay man. Whether or not the creators decide to explore more about sexual representation is something we have to watch out for.
#5 Overall feeling of paranoia
When you live in a small town like Riverdale, it’s inevitable that everyone knows each other. Moreover, when something bad happens in the town, it’s pretty easy to pinpoint who’s conspiring with each other—once you catch them.
As mentioned, we don’t know who in the town killed Jason. However, just imagine if you lived in a town that secluded and knew that one of your neighbors killed the guy you went to school with. You might even be living under the same roof as them.
That’s what I love about Riverdale. It doesn’t come close to How to Get Away With Murder‘s “who did it” premise, but this factor does make you want to see more.
Screencap from Riverdale
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