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Review: Archie and the Gang get gritty makeover in CW's Riverdale

Answering questions like: Did Cheryl kill her twin brother? What happened between Jughead and Archie? Why did they make Miss Grundy so hot?

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Last Thursday the 26th, the new 45 minute drama Riverdale premiered on The CW, with the show having been advertised as "Twin Peaks meets Archie and Jughead," a murder mystery set in an otherwise innocent seeming town. Except that town is home to Archie and the gang. Also, they're all tweet-crazy millenials now. Also, Josie and the Pussycats are there. But I won't get ahead of myself. We here at PopDust covered Riverdale back when it was just announced, but now that the first episode has been unveiled upon us, it's time to give you our take.

The show sets us up with the mysterious death of Jason Blossom on the Fourth of July, after going out for a boat ride with his twin sister Cheryl (played by Madelaine Petsch). The "official" story, as told by sole witness Cheryl to the authorities, is that he fell into the river and drowned to death after trying to grab her glove that fell in the water. All of this told in flashback, it's now the first day of school for Riverdale High, and this year's theme is grieving for star football player Jason. Apparently, Cheryl is a lot more in the manipulative-but-popular-girl archetype than the grieving widow she lets on to be, as chatter from the other students tell us she'll probably use her brother's death to gain social standing.

Immediately, I don't think anyone in this town actually gives a sh*t about Jason's death, including his sister. In fact, the first reaction we see in the flashback of Jason's death at the beginning is Betty's mom straight up saying he deserved it. They give us more backstory later on, explaining that her other daughter, now in a group home, was pushed to nervous breakdown by a toxic relationship with Jason, but jeez! This lady came all the way to the river's edge, where a high schooler has died, just to look his parents in the eye and be like "LOL, got 'em!"

And those are only the people who actually believe he drowned. Apparently our man Archie (played by KJ Apa) was busy shacking up in the woods nearby with his teacher Ms. Grundy (who let's just say is cast with interesting artistic license, played by Sarah Habel), when the two heard a gunshot come from the river, right around the time Jason was supposed to have gone under.

Whatever you say, CW!

Because of the nature of their relationship, the two are forced to keep the gunshot a secret, but boy are they ever guilty about it. Sike! They totally aren't, because Ms. Grundy doesn't care that she heard a student from her school probably get shot, she just wants to have more freaky sex with underage Archie, while Archie doesn't care that a kid he played football with was murdered, he literally just wants Ms. Grundy to teach him about music. I understand that both of them want to keep their fling under wraps, but the two almost make it look too easy at this point.

This brings me to one of my problems so far: is Archie a total f*cking idiot?

Not pictured: brains?

In the scene where we meet the spoiled, upper class Veronica Lodge (played by Camila Mendes), she steps into Pop's Diner fresh off the plane from New York City, where her father is currently under trial for embezzling millions of dollars, or some white collar crime along those lines. Archie and Betty, meanwhile, are on a date talking all about how Archie is torn between varsity football and writing music. Amazingly, we do not get a shot of the world's tiniest violin playing for him, but we do get an awesome shot of Archie when he sees Veronica walk in.

When I say you can see the exact moment Archie stops caring about Betty, I mean this show would have to write it on a sign to be anymore blunt about it. Our man focuses instantly on the new girl in town, making no secret about it, all the while sitting across this girl who he's practically dating. The lack of subtlety is honestly hilarious.

A refreshing part of the show is the inclusion of Kevin Keller (played by Casey Cott), the first openly gay character from the Archie comics, who serves as the sassy, witty comic relief during all of this high school brooding. Wait, sassy? Getting a little too close to Stereotypically Gay Man for my taste. What's next, is he going to be forced into being some annoying girl's best friend?

Oh. Well then.

Check out weekly reviews of Riverdale episodes here on PopDust, as they premiere on The CW!

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