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Warning: Spoilers for the first episode of Riverdale below
This is not the Archie Andrews we grew up with. There's a reason they decided to call the series Riverdale instead of Archie, this is not the happy fun teen we know from the comics. That being said, there are definitely elements from the comic that they made sure to keep in the show. As with any show, specifically those based on comics, there are people who are extremely divided on the first episode of Riverdale. Here's a list of the good and bad from the first episode. Keep in mind many shows shift dramatically from their pilot, so this episode is not necessarily indicative of how the series will turn out.
Betty and Veronica- Betty and Veronica were by far the best parts of the first episode. While the Archie character wasn't bad, he certainly did not stand out. Betty and Veronica were fun and complex characters that made the show feel less like a classic teen drama. There are two sides to Veronica in the comics, the rich snob and Betty's best friend who tried her best to do the right thing. I was certain they would turn Veronica into a snob and make her incredibly unlikable, luckily I was wrong. Veronica had her rich snobby side which is important, because it separates her from Betty, but she is incredibly likable. Betty is not just the goody goody girl next door. Her tense relationship with her mother adds a bit of depth that we don't usually see from Betty. The best part of having both Betty and Veronica as such strong characters is that some fans are #TeamBetty and others are #TeamVeronica, just like they were in the comics.
Cheryl Blossom- Even though she was a bit different than her character in the comics, I liked the way Cheryl was portrayed. She's not just a classic mean girl, she's a bit more twisted and that fits in with the dark theme.
The Connection Between Families- This is a case where I'm glad they differed from the comics. Having Fred Andrews and Hermione Lodge as exes makes Archie and Veronica's relationship more complicated. I also like that Jason ruined Polly Cooper's life. I'm hoping as the season goes on these stories start to unravel so it's not just a basic murder mystery.
Meeting the Characters- I don't care how ridiculous it is, every time they introduced a new character I got excited. It was exciting to see how these characters we grew up with would be portrayed. I also liked the moments that paid homage to the comics, like Archie wearing his classic bow tie at the school dance or Veronica calling him Archiekins.
The Love....Rectangle?- The most popular theme in the Archie comics is the love triangle between Betty and Veronica. Riverdale decided to take it one step further and add in a weird (and illegal) romance with Ms. Grundy. I like the idea that Archie knows something about Jason's death and he can't tell people, but this weird romance between Archie and Ms. Grundy just feels wrong and unnecessary.
The Tone- Yes this show is on CW, so that comes with a certain tone, but this show does a poor job with the middle moments. There are some fun moments, like cheerleader tryouts, and some dark moments, like Jason's death. My problem is how heavy they make moments that shouldn't be so heavy. Archie's struggle to decide whether he wants to do music or football shouldn't feel as intense as him hearing a gun shot before Jason went missing. They need to do a better job toning down the not so dramatic moments.
Jughead- Jughead was criminally underused in the pilot, and when we did see him he isn't the goofball Jughead we have come to know. Cole Sprouse does a good job playing this dark version of Jughead, but that's not the Jughead people love. People want to see the fun loving Jughead who eats a lot, not the Jughead who sits alone writing a book. However, I do like the idea that there was a falling out between Archie and Jughead and hopefully we learn more about that as they mend their relationship.
The first episode of Riverdale had both good and bad moments. While there were some problems, there is enough to keep me coming back and I think this can be a good series if they take it in the right direction.