A fan’s guide to staying in love with Riverdale when it’s really, really hard


Apparently Riverdale is a mob show now, and fans are praying for a reprieve. Hang in there Riverheads, there’s still a lot to love.

Riverdale fans are a put-upon bunch. We’ve had to suffer through quite a bit of insanity in the wobbly season 2. From a disappointingly anticlimactic resoultion to the Black Hood mystery, to a sloppy sad-sack of a hero being foisted upon us, we’re suffering.

In this week’s “Chapter Twenty-Five: The Wicked and the Divine,” showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa returns as head writer and offers us a window into the show we used to know and love. His clever intervention (and that glorious ending scene, which I’ll get to in a minute) is the light at the end of the dreck-filled tunnel we’ve been hoping for.

As I mused over last night’s (moderately) better showing of one of my very favorite programs, I decided we need a little hope to get us through this dark second half. Here’s a quick guide to help us keeping loving a show that we know deserves, but isn’t acting like it right now.

Focus on the adults

If you look too closely at what these pesky teenagers are doing, you will be hard pressed to find much to root for. Can we honestly hope for Veronica to become a mob wife? Can we seriously invest in Betty as a webcam girl (so gross)? Probably not.

What we can do, is bask in the gloriously operatic melodrama of the Riverdale parents. Mark Consuelos was born for this kind of role. You can practically see him twirling his villain’s mustache and tapping his fingertips. They even called him the “Godfather of Riverdale” tonight.

Hiram Lodge, just by sheer proximity, makes Archie a more interesting character. I mean, when else will Archie ever get to actually save a man’s life or be part of a RICO sting? I’ll watch Hiram sip scotch by his ever-roaring fire in his dimly lit den over Archie strumming a guitar, any day.

The adults carry this show, and Alice Cooper wins the episode with that gruesome final scene. When that sketchy friend of Chic’s shows up at the door, my eye-roll reflex kicked in. When Betty comes down the stairs to find her mother mopping up this guy’s blood, and the only thing Alice does is ask about a locked door, I felt like I was home.

This scene is beautiful and brutal, and pretty much encapsulates everything we love about the show. It’s going to be my favorite thing about next week’s episode, and I haven’t even watched it yet. Hal’s leaving is fine by me. I say “good riddance to bad rubbish.” Let him go shack up with Riverdale’s newest prostitute. More room for the blood-cleaning, calm in the face of a homicide, butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, Alice Cooper.

Appreciate the visual beauty of the show itself

Say what you want about the campy new story lines or wooden dialogue, but this show is gorgeous. If you need any proof about how well done a teen soap can be, look no further than Veronica’s confirmation scene. The lighting and cinematography is flawless, and Veronica’s seeing Archie in the pew apparently keeping her from choosing Satan is both clever and whimsical.

The show knows its way around a color profile and an artful composition, as well. Cheryl Blossom often looks like she is carved out of lucite and dipped in lacquer, and you have to know she has to be practically impossible to light. Almost every shot of Cheryl looks like it could have been ripped out of a designer’s notebook. Riverdale has an aesthetic unmatched since its predecessor Twin Peaks. 

Demand a tougher look at the icky sexual and criminal subtext

Unlike its predecessor, however, Riverdale has some actual teenagers watching it, and it’s played a little fast and loose with its minor-aged characters’ sexual exploits. When you put this Betty-as-a-sex-worker plot line in the context of Betty-as-a-high-schooler, then it becomes far more awkward. Let’s not forget, this is the same show that had Betty perform a strip tease for a room full of male Serpents with her mother watching nearby. Riverdale makes it tough for us to root for it, sometimes.

The same goes for Archie and Ms. Grundy’s


statutory rape storyline. It’s not the time in America to set up a high school student as the object of his much older teacher’s affection, even if Archie is handsome and well-meaning. It’s just gross, y’all.

And while we’re talking about icky subtext, how about ignoring the fact that Jughead perpetrated a savagely vicious act of mutilation against a woman? At least the show gave FP enough insight to declare, incredulously, “How do you come back from that?”

Fans might do better to remember how well Riverdale handled Kevin’s exploration with the practice of “cruising.” Although they allowed him enough room to work through his limited options, they also explored how dangerous and volatile it can be. The show can and has done better in the past, so it’s time to demand it continues doing better now.

Related Story: 5 ways Riverdale continues to fail up in season 2 episode 11

Just hold your nose and remember, there’s much more to love than to hate.

Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.