I Watched 35 Hours of ‘Riverdale’ Because I’m Clearly a Masochist, and This is What I Learned

Do you ever take a good look at your life and wonder, “Who am I, and how did I wind up here?” Yeah, *cough* me neither… but after spending the last few weeks binge-watching the first two seasons of Riverdale, I’m probably as close as I’ve ever been. I think I’m going through puberty again. It turns out that my timing was very good, because Season 3 premiered this week, a fact I was unaware of when I embarked on this journey. So in honor of my being re-enslaved by this show a lot sooner than I would have liked, I’ve decided to compile my main takeaways from the first 2 seasons (please note that nothing from episode 301 is included in this review):

These Kids Do Whatever the Hell They Want

When I was in high school, there were rules. Things like “be home by eleven,” and “don’t burn your mother alive.” You know, kid stuff. But the teenagers of Riverdale seem to be above both parental and judicial law: They come and go from school as they please, run around at all hours of the night while there are murderers at large, and commit at least one B&E every episode. They claim to know what’s best not only for themselves, but for their parents as well, and vehemently enforce such perspectives. Betty has more or less said “shut the fuck up mom, I’ll go where I want when I want” multiple times. Veronica blackmails her dad on a regular basis, and also wires absurd amounts of his money to people without his permission, often in direct defiance of him (this is, of course, once he gets out of prison, no thanks to her). I would’ve gotten the absolute shit kicked out of me if I attempted even a fraction of these shenanigans. Somewhere between fourth period and getting a driver’s license, these kids all morphed into neighborhood watchdogs. At one point Betty actually says “I’m supposed to be this great detective…” …Are you, though? I thought you were supposed to be stuffing your bra and siphoning negligible amounts of Schnapps from your parents’ liquor cabinet, but perhaps I’m just out of touch with today’s youth. In any event, if there’s an (increased) uprising of teens nationwide, I guarantee you Riverdale is to blame.

Archie Andrews Really Came Up

God, Archie was the worst at the start of this show. His original story arc was essentially the plot of High School Musical, except I don’t think Zac Efron was banging his drama teacher in that movie. We’ve come a long way since then… By the end of Season 2, Archie’s the person saving Riverdale from every near-catastrophe, and — to his demise — millionaire Hiram Lodge’s henchman-turned-rival-turned-scapegoat. He’ll still whip out a guitar solo every now and then, but protecting the town from turmoil looks much better on him than obsessing over Miss Grundy, whose entire persona was ripped straight from an ill-conceived “stay after class” porno. I’d say that I hope he isn’t in jail for too long in Season 3, but nobody ever is in this show, so I’m not that worried about it.

Veronica Lodge Kinda Sucks

Veronica is a loyal friend who is definitely willing to make power moves when things get down to the wire, but as a human being she is little more than tolerable to me. She’s a brat who communicates mainly in niche metaphors and Gen Z internet speak, and she dresses like a senator. Also, she essentially launched a counter-investigation to prove her father was guilty of his crimes instead of helping him get out of jail, which is incredibly wack. She forces her parents to include her in the family business, then consistently uses the knowledge she gains against them. She can’t be trusted; I’m glad she gets removed from the fold. We’ll see how she fares as the proprietor of Pop’s Diner (lol).

Betty Cooper has Big Dick Energy

The heroine of this show is 1000% Betty Cooper. She starts off kinda fragile when she’s sniveling about Archie all the time, but in the wake of Jason Blossom’s mysterious death, realizes that men are trash and it’s time to get this bread. She goes on to solve Jason’s murder, and plays the single most important role in taking down the Black Hood, who winds up being her own father. She can make the tough decisions when they need to be made — like hiding a body and sacrificing Chic to the Black Hood — and she looks great in a wig. Betty’s mother, Alice Cooper (not the rockstar), begins Season 1 as one of the worst characters in Riverdale, but by the end of Season 2 she’s actually one of my favorites, and I think that’s due to her close proximity to Betty… B.D.E. is contagious.

Jughead Jones is Ridiculous

What wears a dumb hat and contains more angst than a My Chemical Romance concert? Jughead Jones, everybody. I truly don’t know what Betty sees in this guy. He goes from being a brooding loner with a nauseating degree of self-righteousness, to being ready to die for a gang he spent the entire first season bad-mouthing, in like, 2 days. His moral compass is confusing, his demeanor is irritating, and his sister’s name is Jelly Bean. His investigative journalism skills are A1, but that’s about all I can say for him. Some of the cringey-est lines in Riverdale come out of Jughead’s mouth.

Fred Andrews is Draining the Life Out of Me

Archie’s dad, Fred Andrews, is probably my least favorite character in a show that is lush with dislikable characters. Fred might have fortitude and integrity coming out of his ears, but oh my God, what a melancholy piece of shit this guy is. I experience a serotonin depletion every time he’s on the screen; he is the human embodiment of a sigh. In his defense, he’s almost died multiple times, and it can’t be easy being the father of a teen vigilante in a shit town with one restaurant. Still, if his character died I would feel nothing, except maybe relief from this persistent and inexplicable anxiety I’ve been having.

They Really Need More Places to Eat

How does everyone in Riverdale not have diabetes? Also, why do people continue to think that they can have private meetings at Pop’s without being seen or heard? Like, a couple having an affair will show up at Pop’s and go “oh no our kids are here, guess we’re busted.” No shit. Everyone is there, it’s the only goddamn restaurant. Occasionally we’ll see someone with a pizza box or Chinese takeout container, which to me is a much bigger mystery than the Black Hood ever was. Where are these establishments? Do they actually exist, or are people carrying around empty boxes as part of some larger conspiracy? If they do exist, do they have tables that patrons can sit down and hatch schemes at? These are the questions I need answered in Season 3.

This Town is Somehow Outside of Federal Jurisdiction

Hey I have a question: Where in God’s name are the police? The real police? There is a serial killer running rampant; people are dying left and right… Why hasn’t the FBI gotten involved? Riverdale’s solution to crime is one DILF who also happens to be a sheriff, Archie, and a bunch of malleable teens in letterman jackets who wind up on Hiram Lodge’s payroll anyway. I’m surprised there aren’t more criminals having their way with this place, it’s basically a safe haven.

There Are No Lasting Consequences for Anyone’s Actions

The plot lines of Riverdale, ridiculous though they may be, somehow never stray too far — Which is crazy, considering that I can’t even go to the bathroom without missing a reveal that someone has a dark criminal past, or is another character’s estranged relative. I’ve honestly never seen so much melodrama; it’s like watching a soap opera. However, things typically revert back to “normal” within a few episodes. For example, Cheryl Blossom literally burned down her mansion with her mother inside, and not only did she not die, but after wearing bandages for 1–2 chapters she looked completely fine again — possibly even better. That isn’t how fire (or skin regeneration) works. It’s not a fucking chemical peel. In general, this show pulls sooo many punches. It’s like whenever you think some grown shit is about to happen, they find a way to make it PG. I can’t help but laugh every time there’s some sort of “turf war” between the Bulldogs and the Serpents; I feel like I’m watching a Disney Channel remake of The Outsiders. In a way, I’m grateful for this though, because it’s how I know everything’s probably going to be fine. Watching Riverdale is not nearly as stressful as watching, say, Game of Thrones, which kills tertiary characters for breakfast and possibly your main protagonist while they’re at it. I feel like this show actually cares about my feelings, which is nice.

Riverdale is the Best Bad Show on Television

I know I basically just spent the last 1500 words talking shit about Riverdale, but there’s a reason why I made it this far, and it’s the same reason why I will begrudgingly be back for Season 3: Because despite its many flaws, this show somehow manages to be… good? I wish I could explain that better, but I truly don’t understand it myself. Sure, there are some bad actors delivering some bad lines, and an overarching triteness that makes you just want to vomit; But in the midst of all that, there are also good actors delivering okay lines, some beautiful cinematography, and a compelling (albeit wildly unrealistic) storyline. And frankly, the bad stuff is so bad that it’s actually comedic; and whether or not that was the intent of the showrunners, I enjoy the fact that I can usually get a few laughs out of each episode. In summary, I’m going to continue to watch this show, goddamnit. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go reactivate my Myspace account.

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