TV Series Review: Riverdale

This series has been on my radar since it started airing at the beginning of 2017. And since the third season just started, I thought it would be the perfect time to binge-watch the first two seasons.

There is one main reason I avoided this drama like wildfire and one reason I finally decided to check it out. First, I hate the majority of teen dramas in America, especially any that comes from the CW channel (from horrible dramas like Reign, The Vampire Diaries, and Beauty and the Beast), so now I just tend to avoid all American television shows. I’ll watch the occasional cooking show (like Kitchen Nightmares) and I usually enjoy British television, but American TV is pretty much filled with the same shallow tropes, clichés, and inconsistency.

However, the reason I decided to get into this drama was because it’s Spooktober, and I thought I should watch at least a couple of creepy TV series this month. I got into this drama mostly for the mystery, and I stayed for the characters. Let me explain.

Season One

To summarize the plot briefly, the first season surrounds the mysterious murder of rich teen socialite Jason Blossom. The four main characters are Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead (yes, that is his name, and by far he was my favorite character in the first season). They spend most of the season uncovering the dark secrets in the small town of Riverdale, including the murderer of Jason.

I was surprisingly impressed by the first season. There was the rare teen trope that annoyed me, and I couldn’t stand (and still can’t stand) the main character Archie, but there was a lot to like about this drama. First, the story was really tightly written. The plot had me guessing what new secret would be revealed, and I was even impressed by the solution to the murder. The plot was well-paced, complex but not filled with many plot holes, and the characters’ motivations were all understandable and interesting.

The thing I loved more, however, was the sense of comradery between many of the characters. This season showed true friendships, how they grew, were tested, but then came back together. The characters communicated with each other, instead of leaving the others in the dark just to add false drama. I loved Archie and Jughead’s friendship, and Betty and Veronica’s. They weren’t easily manipulated to believe their friends were against them, and saw through lies people told them. While I didn’t like all their decisions, especially Archie and Veronica’s, the majority of the time I could really support the characters.

Hollywood being Hollywood, of course, had to insert the random TV sex scene or pointless drama that added nothing to the plot or character development, but for the most part I really enjoyed the first season.

Season Two

Now we come to the train wreck which is the second season, where everything I loved about the first season was thrown on the ground and trampled by a wild band of horses, or serpents, as the case may be.

The plot starts off with a mysterious serial killer trying to cleanse the sins of Riverdale, and of course our four main characters, especially Betty, are trying to catch him.

But even the mystery itself is predictable at best, and stupid at worst. I saw who the murderer was a mile away, and I always seemed to be a step ahead of the people investigating. The friendships that I loved so much in the first season seemed shallow and contradictory in the second. Half of the characters’ actions made no sense, and seemed to be added in by the writers just to get another sex scene in or more drama. It was the most frustrating thing to watch.

The only aspect I did enjoy was Jughead joining the South Side Serpents gang, who his father was the leader of. I really enjoyed him befriending them and most of the conflict having to do with them. And I was a massive fan of Sweet Pea’s character (yes, that is his name, or at least his nickname). Even Bones and Toni were fun characters. But they were definitely not the focus of the season, and if this season had focused more of the fight between the South Side and the North Side, I would have enjoyed it a lot more, especially if the four main characters stayed strong in their friendship throughout. In fact, the only reason I actually watched the series past episode 10 was to see what was going to happen with the Serpents.

Also, and this is my pet peeve, because I am a girl, but I hated how the women were portrayed in season 2, as if they all had to be sexual fiends in order to be interesting characters. Like every character portrayed as having any morals in the first season now had none. The female characters would be upset by some of the male characters objectifying them, and then they would use their sexuality to get what they wanted, proving those male characters right, that women can’t do anything without sexualizing themselves. This message was truly disgusting to me. Yes, in the first season there were certain female characters that did this, but the story made it clearly apparent that these girls were unhappy and harming their own mental health. In the second season, any semblance of self-respect was gone from any female character. A similar thing happened to most of the male characters too, just for the record.

Conclusion

I would recommend that first season of this drama. It’s only thirteen episodes (twelve original ones, and one just setting up the next season), and it’s a fun mystery and drama. But the second season was really disappointing, so I can’t recommend it.

Though, honestly, this happens with most American TV shows I watch. Perhaps it’s because writers don’t understand human nature or psychology, or that the TV producers want more and more drama at the cost of good plot and characters. Or maybe it’s because Hollywood is now filled with political agendas that they can’t help but insert into series that are supposed to be fun and fictional. This is a pity, because I saw some great things in the first season. But, in the end, it seems as if Hollywood perhaps cannot change…and what will its fate be, I wonder?

Have you watched this series? What are your thoughts of this series in particular or teen dramas in general? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more madness and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

17 thoughts on “TV Series Review: Riverdale

  1. I’d like to say something about Chinese teen dramas. They’re train wrecks too! The Chinese teen dramas in the recent years are filled with love triangle, abortion and corney plots such as a rich, excellent boy falls loves in a silly girl or the whole world is against me and I’m so miserable… It seems none of them need to study hard for their future… I can’t relate to the characters at all! Don’t check them out because as far as I know most of them are pure nonsense. If you’ve watched one of them, don’t regard them as the real life of Chinese adolescent😂.

    By the way, there’s a good Chinese teen movie called Our Shining Days which stars Xv Lu and Peng Yuchang cut through the clutter. If you’re intersted, you can check it out(。ò ∀ ó。)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So I see American teen dramas aren’t the only ones with problems! I’ve watched a couple Chinese teen dramas (like Love O2O), but I definitely prefer Chinese historical dramas. But yes, I supposed each country has it’s tropes on TV, especially for teens. I haven’t watched Our Shining Days. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree! Believe it or not, a lot of Chinese people scoff at domestically produced plays( including me… because most of what I’ve watched are low-quality …) and really like British, American, Japanese and Korean dramas. There are lot of complains like why our Chinese screenplay writers can’t create such brilliant scripts like them… Actually we don’t lack creative writers but the reasons are complicated. But I suppose Chinese dramas and movies are starting to improve. I hope so.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I hope they do improve! As I hope American dramas improve too. I suppose every country can improve in something. In America, kids do horribly on average in math, but in most Asian countries, including China, they score incredibly high in math abilities! So I suppose every country has things to learn.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I stayed for Jughead only for he’s a sweetheart and not to mention, a writer, but I’m so over this show. It doesn’t have a spot on my list anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jughead was my favorite character in the first season too! He’s both eccentric, an outcast, and a writer, so I related to him. But I definitely felt as if the focus wasn’t really on him as much in season 2. So I agree, I’m already over the tv show too!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly why I related to him as well! Plus, had Cole Sprouse not made a terrific Jughead, I wouldn’t have bothered with the show after the first episode. You’re right, though, for when S2 rolled around, it was mostly about Archie and Veronica.

        Liked by 1 person

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