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Monday, 6 November 2017

Riverdale is well worth your time.



Riverdale has proven to be a force to be reckoned with since hitting screens back in January. Based on the classic Archie comics, the show is set in the fictional town of Riverdale and follows Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) and his friends, whose lives change forever when their town is rocked by a series of mysterious events. The CW series, which is distributed via Netflix in all countries outside of the US, delivered an incredibly compelling first season that had viewers tearing their hair out guessing who killed Jason Blossom. However, despite its popularity outside of the US, the series wasn’t necessarily a ratings success during its first season but what’s interesting is that the show’s second season began airing last month in the States and the premiere episode garnered 2.34 million viewers, which (for The CW) is magnificent. In today’s day and age of online streaming, such a jump is almost unheard of so it does leave us wondering: Why Riverdale is so successful?

Well, for one, the show’s availability on Netflix Worldwide is likely a huge factor. We’ve seen in the past that once the ‘Netflix Original’ tag is added to a series, its value increases almost instantly. The streaming service is arguably today’s number one source of entertainment for the majority of television viewers and that’s largely because Netflix’s critically acclaimed original series are renowned for their compelling storytelling. From Stranger Things to The OA and the recent MINDHUNTER, Netflix shows are binged by viewers around the world and once the Netflix tag is added to a show, it almost guarantees that more people will watch it. I’ll admit it: it’s often how I choose which television shows to watch. While Riverdale isn’t funded or produced by Netflix, the streaming service owns the distribution rights, which means the show is exclusively a Netflix product in all countries outside the US. And, as we’ve seen in the past, when word spreads about a great show, people start to jump on the bandwagon.
In addition to the Netflix tag, the tone of Riverdale and the supernatural themes are also likely reasons why the show has proven so successful. Borrowing elements from both Twin Peaks and Stranger ThingsRiverdale is essentially a murder mystery that takes place in a small town and, while not as well-written as its two predecessors, it’s certainly captured the supernatural tone that such a show requires. The disappearance and murder of Jason Blossom had elements of the classic murder mystery shows that we no longer see on television, which gave Riverdale a unique selling point. Moreover, the writers were very clever at throwing viewers off the scent and kept us guessing the killer’s identity right up until the very end. By having the murder take place at Sweetwater River, the writers cleverly implicated many of Riverdale’s main characters which upped the ante and confused viewers in the best way possible. Viewers tried to work out who killed Blossom and, as we grew to know the characters, it became harder to believe that any of them would be capable of such a heinous act.  Additionally, the tone and the style of the show are unlike anything else currently on television. The vintage tone reminds us of past eras and, with Stranger Things bringing the ‘80s back into fashion, it appears that Riverdale has done the same thing with the ‘50s.  

Of course, like a lot of shows that originate on The CW, Riverdale is not without its problems. Arguably the most frustrating thing about the show is its melodramatic tendencies and its affinity for soap opera-inspired storylines. For example, the shower sex scene between Archie and Veronica (Camila Mendes) in the Season 2 premiere felt forced and totally inappropriate considering Archie’s dad was in a critical condition in the hospital. It was almost as if its only purpose was to remind audiences of the fact that Archie and Veronica are a couple. The writers need to keep in mind that fans don’t need reminding of past events — especially not in an age of Netflix. Having said that, Riverdale is still a lot better than previous shows from the teen genre, so these issues are worth overlooking because, at the end of the day, it’s a really good show.

There’s no doubt that Riverdale is hitting all the right notes for TV viewers around the globe. The show is incredibly compelling — especially considering it fits into the soapy-teen genre. The Vampire Diaries’ conclusion last year left somewhat of a gap in the market for another supernatural love triangle television series and, with the age-old love triangle of Archie Andrews, Veronica Lodge and Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) finally arriving on our screens, it appears that Riverdale has filled the void very nicely. We’re only a couple of episodes into the second season and, aside from a few issues I still have with the melodramatics, it’s proving to be just as thrilling as the first. A new killer is on the loose, and this time it’s Archie that is in danger. I don’t know about you, but I’m hooked

Contributed by Stephen Patterson
Season 1 of Riverdale is available on Netflix with Season 2 streaming new episodes weekly.

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