“It’s not a dark, gritty reboot of Archie” Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa said in an interview with the A.V. Club when referring to the new CW show, Riverdale. I believe him. After watching the first five episodes of Riverdale, to call the show a “dark, gritty reboot” would be, I believe, diminutive and would lump it in with a lot of other weak comics-to-screen adaptions. Riverdale is just one of many versions of the Archie Universe where (shouldn’t be a SPOILER since it’s the basis for the show) Jason Blossom is murdered and it changes the town of Riverdale forever. That being said the show isn’t for everyone, and guess what- that’s OK.
I would like to first address my shared thesis with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, whom is the Chief Creative Officer at Archie comics. He also writes the awesome Afterlife with Archie and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina series. I would say that the foundation of calling something a “dark, gritty reboot” is that its the source material has only been tampered with to appear “edgy” and draw in the “hip” crowd. This implies that the creators are only motivated on cashing in on their new found audience. I don’t know Roberto Aguirre-Secasa personally but this interview seems to paint a very different picture then someone just looking to cash in. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa describes his relationship to Archie universe as, “Listen, I love these characters. No one is more protective of them than me. I made it my personal mission and said to Jon Goldwater, the Head of Archie Comics, ‘I believe I was put on this earth to help you bring these characters to three-dimensional life.’ ” Clearly, this guy loves Archie, and his motive is just to add layers to a classic character that he loves. Yes, Riverdale has darker and more complex subject matter then SOME of the more classic Archie comics, but the reason for doing so is not to draw in some imaged “hip” crowd. It is simply to tease more complex and detailed versions of these beloved characters.
My second argument would be about who this show is for. Full disclosure: this show is DEFINETLY for me. I fell in love with Archie because of people like Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Mark Waid, and Chip Zdarsky. Before them, I thought that Archie was just the “lame” comics you saw in the aisles of grocery stores. I am also a huge fan of the new wave of television shows that have effortlessly blended camp sensibilities with believable human drama. The two shows that jump to mind are Ryan Murphy projects- American Horror Story and Glee. I was anticipating this show but I know some people weren’t. I know that some people look at Archie with a fond sense of nostalgia, as it represents a simpler time. I also know that a lot of people in the comics community often see things through these lenses. But most good artists today don’t want to rewrite old stories, they want to create new and challenging stories even as they use the characters they love! And as a relatively young fan, I say bring it on! If you want things a little more classic, I don’t begrudge you. There are plenty of artist working today in all mediums doing callbacks. Just don’t begrudge me for wanting something as exciting and new as Riverdale.
Riverdale airs every Thursday at 9pm (ET) on the CW.