Riverdale: The Train Wreck We Can’t Look Away From

Riverdale is nearing it’s season 4 close and confirmed for an upcoming 5th season. The entire journey has been all over the shop, and definitely lost it’s feet for a little while, but we can’t help but come back to it. There’s just something about this production that keeps us watching with one eye open. 

Photo credit: decider.com

The CW and Netflix reboot of Riverdale is currently in its fourth season and nearing a close soon. The network confirmed in January that the show would return later this year for a fifth season. Though some beloved characters will be leaving us, FP Jones and Hermione Lodge. Skeet Ulrich (FP) and Marisol Nichols (Hermione) will not be coming back for the fifth season, and will be sorely missed, but hopefully the weird drama continues to persist.

Now, I have been on the Riverdale train for a while—since the very beginning. I know I’m not the only one who thinks it’s been a wild, at times inconsistent and perplexing, ride. It’s one of these inexplicably dramatic and often cringey train wrecks that we just can’t look away from. But what has made it this way? Is it intentional? I don’t believe it began with this kind of objective, but it appears they can’t steer away from that now.

Let’s take a little trip down memory lane, all the way back to season 1. Those early episodes filled the series with so much promise. The constant, recurring scenes of the Blossom twins right before Jason’s mysterious death—dressed clad in their all white. Cheryl’s nervous face, Jason’s confident eyes. To be honest, it was these moments that lured me in and kept me intrigued. Alongside the bright, gloomy colours (an oxymoron, sure, but an accurate one).

Of course, the added tension of new girl Veronica Lodge, just as Betty Cooper had declared her “feelings” for neighbour and best friend, the iconic, Archie Andrews—who, let’s not forget, was having it on with his music teacher, Miss. Grundy.

There was so much at stake. A murder mystery, an affair, love triangles and so much more. I think I can pinpoint the beginning of where things went wonky. The final episodes of the first season, where we see the footage of Clifford Blossom shooting Jason. He then hangs himself and we never actually discover why he murdered his own son. The biggest question that lurked over all of us throughout that first season was never properly understood nor answered.

Then, enter season 2. Bad boy Hiram Lodge is in town and ready to stir up some serious drama—that keeps us watching. The whole Black Hood fiasco though, which kicked off in late season 1 when he ran into Pop’s diner and shot Fred Andrews. At first, it was thrilling. Another murder mystery, and this time an ongoing one, had laced its treacherous hands throughout the dark town of Riverdale. The fault, of this plot line, lies with the false reveal of the man under the black hood. The school janitor? Yeah, no. I knew from very early on that Betty’s dad Hal was the perpetrator and I think we all felt seriously let down by that mislead. It wasn’t clever, it was disappointing.

The remainder of season 2 and all of season 3 depicted some pretty strange shit. The plot line was severely confused and had absolutely no idea which way to go. The Black Hood was revealed, and then locked up, only to be released again. We never really knew whether he was on the loose or not, although we knew his identity.

Amidst these two middle seasons was a whole other bunch of nonsense—Gryphons and Gargoyles and the whole weird cult thing with Evelyn and Edgar Evernever. I’d be lying if I said none of it entertained me. Obviously it did, because here I am, still watching. Though it often felt like the producers were constantly trying to recreate the drama and mystery that flooded that first season, and they’ve never quite gotten that close to what once was.

Photo Credit: riverdale.fandom.com

With all the warped plot-lines in play, we’re still here, watching with one eye open. A lot of people watch Riverdale and a lot of them dropped off along the way. In the first season it was like, how are you not watching this delicious slab of entertainment? And now… it’s more like, I’m only watching because I can’t stop.

The looming question: why? I often tell my friends, as I excuse myself for relishing in something so gloriously trashy, that the beauty of the show, is that it’s self-aware. I can’t promise that’s the intention, but it comes across. It’s almost as though the characters know how cheesy and typical their lines are. They’re aware of how ridiculous the drama is.

It all works because the show stems from the comics. We know the characters are seemingly picture-perfect, the sets are overdone and at times, things make almost no sense and feel out of place. The show gets away with all of this nonsense, because itself is a comic book—just one that’s on the screen. I think lots of people find the issues harder to ignore when it’s plastered in real, vivid life before them. Silly things happening in a comic book? Totally normal, not even questionable.

In film and television these days, people want a dark twist. That’s exactly what this Archie comics reboot is attempting to do. Give you the classic characters you know and love and place them in a never-ending world of darkness. Personally, I think season 4 has redeemed the mishaps of the past. Don’t get me wrong, I still find myself glancing away and gritting my teeth at some of the scenes and dialogue, but as soon as the episode finishes, I’m ready for the next one.

Although, I’ve been putting off watching the most recent musical episode for about a week now. I think we’re allowed to skip those ones—especially if Jughead is caught singing.

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