‘Riverdale’ a gritty Archie update

New CW drama modernizes beloved comic


The CW

"Riverdale" is a CW update of the Archie comics.

Last month, a new show hit the airways. It felt familiar — but went far beyond what was expected.

“Riverdale” — a new teen drama airing Thursdays on the CW — opens with a pan over a small town and skin-crawling dialogue. Narrated by Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse), the show gives off a gritty feel that didn’t exist in the Archie comics on which it is based. It’s geared to our cynical, 21st-century mindsets and is out to enthrall us in its twisted storyline.

The show focuses on the death of Jason Blossom, former quarterback for Riverdale High, and the mystery of how he died. The first episode established how he was killed, but by whom? That’s the question that drives the season.

While the town itself looks like it’s from the 1950s, the show is set in the present day. The kids do things that “squares” or “greasers” would have done, like hang out at the town diner and order malts. The school was even built in the same year that the comics were first released.

But the show still keeps its story modern. The kids all have smartphones, and some of the references made in the show didn’t even exist during the ’50s. They even throw in Kevin Keller (Casey Cott), an out-proud gay student, showing they’re getting with the times.

In contrast to the all-white cast of the original comics, the show features several characters who are people of color. Josie and the Pussycats are all African-American, and the Lodge Ladies are both Latina.

The show also cast some familiar faces that may catch your eye. Former “90210” actor, Luke Perry, stars as Archie’s dad, Molly Ringwald is set to make an appearance as Archie’s mom, and Mädchen Amick from “Twin Peaks” plays Betty’s overbearing mom.

Also, “Stranger Things” star Shannon Purser (Barb) will appear as Ethel Muggs on the show. Her character is highly infatuated with Jughead, but he doesn’t reciprocate her feelings. She will only appear in four of the 13 episodes this season, but they will no doubt be highly appreciated, especially by “Save Barb” fanatics.

With adaptations come changes, and boy, there are a lot. Archie (KJ Apa), the fun-loving boy next door, is no longer as innocent. He now spends his time brooding and figuring out his future. Betty (Lili Reinhart) has a sweet demeanor, but it looks as if she has demons to face.

The CW has created beloved shows like “The Flash” and “Supernatural” that lasted for multiple seasons. So if anyone is capable of starting a show based on comic books, it’s them. Who would’ve thought a show based on Archie comics could so effortlessly keep you on the edge of your seat?