Joey Charlton Makes the Case for “Riverdale” on the CW

Readers — I’m so excited to welcome my friend Joey Charlton to our team of contributors at “Todd Flora’s America!” I hope you enjoy her full throttle endorsement of the CW’s “Riverdale” as much as I did.

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If you haven’t already heard of the CW’s new show RIVERDALE don’t worry, your kids have. This Twin Peaks meets Gossip Girl sappy soapy murder mystery, centered on a bunch of beautiful high schoolers, is geared towards an audience that has most likely never heard of the Archie comics it’s based on. That’s right, those Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead comics. If I had you at Archie, go ahead and watch it, you’ll love it. If you need more convincing, please, allow me to share with you four main reasons why you (likely a grown adult Gen-X’r) should immediately binge watch Season 1 and get ready for the Season 2 premiere October 11th.

First, it’s ridiculous! It is an over-the-top-unbelievably-good-looking-how-do-they-make-enough-to-live-in-that-penthouse story of a once innocent town rocked murder and scandal. If you are afraid of keeping track of all the secret engagement, secret pregnancy, secret lovers and family secret storylines that are swirling around, have no fear, Jughead will be your guide. Portrayed by Cole Sprouse – the kid from Adam Sandler’s Big Daddy, our modern day Jughead is now the dark and brooding troubadour for our troubled town.  Complete with his signature crown hat and S shirt, Jughead lets us in on what’s really going one episode introduction at a time.  Skeptical? Did I mention the battle over who will run the maple syrup empire or the drug dealing bikers or the Hatfield & McCoy style family drama that all started with one grandpappy murdering another generations ago?  One more time let me say, this show is RIDICULOUS. So, I know this, now you know this. It means we can all be in on this together, turn off our brains and enjoy this glittery jewel that has been presented before us.

Second, THE PARENTS: The casting directors gave us a real treat when casting the parents of our heroes and heroines. Luke Perry as Archie’s Dad, Fred Andrews. He’s handsome, kind, sexy, mysterious, possibly troubled. Truly the way you would want to see Dylan McKay all grown up. A few other goodies from the casting office are: Audrey from Vegas Vacation plays the mother of Veronica.  Robin Givens plays the Mayor and mother to Josie of Josie and the Pussycats. Jughead’s Dad is played by Skeet Ulrich, an original Scream alumnus. Though cast as a bad guy and a bridge to the seedy underbelly of much of what we know is the dark side of Riverdale, he mostly just acts like he needs a nap and looks like he really needs a shower. Madchen Amick, the beauty most famously known for playing Shelly the waitress on the aforementioned Twin Peaks, plays one mean mother, as Betty Cooper’s mom, Alice. Alice. Cooper. I’ll just leave that right there.

Third, EYE CANDY: The show’s sets, costumes and above average looking cast are all fun to look at. I don’t think anyone would deny that.  From the dark and steamy opening credits seemingly plucked directly from that old Edward Hopper painting, you know the one, with the diner and the sadness. This show is dark and moody at times, bright and neony, glossy and shiny at others. Young high-schoolers looking good, solving murders, doing high school stuff. And they all look good.  Hot boys, hot girls, hot parents…there is a lot more sizzle here then there ever was on those comic pages.

Finally, BETTY and VERONICA: Oh… the classic Betty v. Veronica, it’s a tale as old as time. Ginger v. MaryAnn, Angel v. Devil. But thankfully, so far in the series, it doesn’t seem like we are going to be subject to the will they/won’t they back and forth of whether Archie will choose either one. It looks like in our present day ‘town with Pep’ Betty has eyes for Jughead. Veronica is not the cool aloof vixen that we have come to know, she’s kind, sweet, moral, seemingly constantly trying to make up for the wrongs her father has committed. Have I mentioned her father is in prison for embezzlement? This prompted Veronica and her Mom (Vegas Vacation Audrey) to move from Manhattan directly to small town USA. Veronica, played by Camila Mendes, in her first ever role, gives us Upper East Side realness as she refers to herself as, “Totally Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and her new town as “Totally In Cold Blood.” Betty, played by Lili Reinhart, on the other hand oozes all American girl next door.  She looks prim and proper and plays it sweet but you know from early on something more nefarious lurks, just like those cute little Cover Girl So LASHY! Blast Pro product shots that keep popping up every few episodes.  Don’t get me started on those…if you just ignore them they might go away.  Remember, this show is not necessarily for you, it’s for the kids.  And oh yeah, as many kids are nowadays, Betty rides a prescription wave of Adderall while she keeps up with her studies and her longing to be a cheerleader. A conversation about Betty and Veronica would not be complete without letting you in on a little secret… In episode 1 we are treated to a full-blown Betty and Veronica make out – that SO did not happen in the comics.

If I haven’t convinced you to at least check it out, let me tempt you with one more reason. Honorable mention: Cheryl Blossom. She’s the twin-sister of the murder victim in the series opener. This sharp-tongued beauty walks around RIVERDALE like a truth teller, giving everyone the “what for” without consideration of the consequences. Her wardrobe is amazing as are her blood red lips and striking ginger hair. I couldn’t help but constantly think “Didn’t this girl’s twin brother just get murdered? Why does she look so good?” Classic Cheryl Blossom.

I was a huge fan of these comics back in the day. That being said, I haven’t read one since I was a teenager, so please go easy on me if I get a reference wrong, or if I don’t know what is original to the show or plucked directly from the comics. Was Jughead’s sister really named Jellybean? In 2017 Riverdale, your darn right it is, and (much like the rest of the show?), it doesn’t matter if it’s believable or not.

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