In case you've missed it, this year saw the premiere of The CW's Riverdale, the network's version of a story familiar to anyone who has ever picked up an Archie comic book. But unlike what you might remember about the Archie comics, Riverdale is so much more: those familiar characters get thrown into an enigmatic and dark world full of mystery and intrigue. It's also a place where these characters have many secrets, some that are so dark that viewers get a shock when they're brought into the light. It's probably one of the best new shows on TV this year and there are many reasons to watch. But we've compiled our own list of why everyone should tune into Riverdale on The CW on Thursday nights.
15 It's based on Archie Comics
Almost every adult remembers reading the Archie comic books as a child, thanks to its memorable characters like Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead. And almost everyone also remembers Riverdale, that fictional town where these characters all lived. It's a familiar world that the TV show uses as its basis. And the characters on the show are a lot like we remember: Betty is the girl next door, Archie is the handsome jock who wants to become a musician, Jughead is the mysterious commentator on the town's events and Veronica is the rich and beautiful girl that every other girl wishes she were. The Midwestern town of Riverdale is a quiet little place that we all grew up loving as children, a place where there's a soda shop and everyone knows everyone else's name.
14 But it's a lot darker
The TV show Riverdale, though, takes this familiar setting and twists it, making it much darker and more sinister. On TV, Riverdale is still a sleepy little town, but it's one of those sleepy little towns where everyone has carefully guarded secrets. That includes even the most outstanding citizens, such as the girl next door and even Archie. The show revolves around a boy's death that police soon learn was a murder, and everyone and anyone is a suspect. Who killed Jason Blossom? And why is there all this secrecy around Betty's sister, Polly? What exactly is going on with Archie and his music teacher, Miss Grundy? And what is Veronica's mom up to? And why are the Blossoms so weird? This show is full of mystery and darkness, raising a lot of questions that need answers.
13 It gets compared to Twin Peaks
It's these mysteries and secrets that has many critics (and fans) comparing Riverdale to Twin Peaks. And The CW series really is a lot like Twin Peaks, but with a younger cast. There's a murder mystery (remember the enigmatic question of who killed Laura Palmer?), as well as a lot of love triangles, secret trysts, weird character traits and surprises that bring the town of Riverdale to shocking life. Even Jughead, seemingly the most innocuous character on the series, turns out to have his own mysteries that he has to deal with. And why did Betty devolve into a completely different personality when she and Veronica got revenge on one of the high school's boys? Everything about this show, even its setting, screams Twin Peaks.
12 The cast
A television series is only good as its cast, but Riverdale has nothing to fear, because its cast is one of the outstanding things about the show. K.J. Apa is convincing as Archie, the main character who seems to hold everything together on the series. There is also a lot of other great talent including the perfect girl next door with a dark secret, Betty, as portrayed by Lili Reinhart. Camila Mendes is wonderfully convincing as Veronica, the rich girl who is trying to overcome her mean girl days. We also love Madelaine Petsch as Cheryl Blossom, who seems a mean girl at first, but has a lot of layers underneath her harsh exterior. Cole Sprouse is excellent as Jughead. Add Luke Perry and Madchen Amick and you've got the makings of a stellar cast.
Although Barb was only a minor (and very misunderstood) character on Netflix's hit series Stranger Things, actress Shannon Purser made her mark in her portrayal of that character. And although Barb is still very much dead on Stranger Things, her character sort of lives on as Ethel Muggs, a character that Purser plays on Riverdale. Granted, she's not a main character, but every Stranger Things fan squealed seeing Purser's face again, in a role that's very similar to what she played on the Netflix series. Ethel is a lot like Barb: socially awkward, not popular at school and someone who often gets bullied. But IMDB has the actress down for four episodes of Riverdale, although we would like to think that we'll see much more of her.
10 Josie and the Pussycats
One of the best things to ever come out of the Archie comic books was the fictional band Josie and the Pussycats. Not only did they get a spin-off comic book series, but they also ended up with their own cartoon and live-action movie. Music is an important part of what happens in Riverdale, not just because of Archie's desire to write music, but also because of Josie and the Pussycats. And on Riverdale, the all-girl band is more fierce and talented than ever. Josie herself is a force that others must reckon with, but when she and her band takes the stage, you forget that this show is about anything else. The band performs some pretty awesome numbers, including "Sugar Sugar," which will make any Archie fan squeal with glee.
Cole Sprouse made a name for himself on the Disney Channel as Olaf on The Suite Life of Zach and Cody. He was a regular on that show, so he already has a large fanbase. Disney fans went nuts when they heard about his casting on Riverdale, especially since he took on the role of Jughead Jones, who is probably one of the most beloved characters in all of comic books history. Jughead is also no stranger to controversy, especially considering his sexual orientation (is he asexual or not?), and Sprouse brings the character to life in a way like we've never seen before. Even the most critical of Archie fans will get behind finally seeing this famous character in action, and we would like to report that he does not disappoint on Riverdale.
8 Strong female characters
Not only does Riverdale have a wonderfully diverse cast, but it also has a cast that features actresses who portray strong female characters. Although Betty and Veronica were once only characters meant to act as love interests for Archie, on Riverdale, these two girls feel real, as if they were people we knew in high school. But they also don't take any kind of nonsense from men, which becomes true early on in Riverdale's first season. When a group of girls get slut shamed by the school's football team, the girls band together and come up with a brilliant plan to exact revenge. Even the school's resident mean girl, Cheryl Blossom, gets in on the action, agreeing to temporarily bond with the others to get even.
7 It's a whodunnit?
At the heart of the first season of Riverdale is a murder mystery. The first episode shows us Cheryl and Jason Blossom, just before they get on a canoe to go for what seems an innocent ride across the lake. But then we find out that Jason supposedly drowned on that trip, presumably an accident. Of course, Jason's body eventually washes up to shore, and when it does, police discover that Jason got shot. But who would kill Jason, the most popular boy at school? Everyone becomes a suspect, because a lot of people seem to have motives to want Jason dead. Not even the nicest kids in school are safe from scrutiny, especially after their dark secrets come to light. Who killed Jason Blossom?
6 There are lots of surprises
Not only is the first season of Riverdale a murder mystery, but it also involves a lot of surprising plot twists. Characters we think we know so well turn up to have some shocking secrets. Even Betty, who seems like the perfect and innocent daughter and friend, has a dark side, one that makes us think she potentially has a problem with multiple personalities. Archie, who seems the perfect jock who just wants more, turns up as a boy having an affair with his music teacher. We soon learn that Jughead also has a shocking secret. Recently, we learned that the Blossom family isn't as perfect as they seem on the surface and that there's a history with that family that goes back to why many in Riverdale hate them.
5 Everyone has their dirty little secrets
Riverdale isn't just a murder mystery with a lot of plot twists. At its heart, it's about the dirty little secrets that characters keep to themselves. There isn't a single character on the show that doesn't have a secret of some kind. For Archie, it's his affair with his music teacher. But we soon learn that the music teacher has dirty little secrets of her own. For Betty, it's that she's secretly in love with Archie, but that she may have some issues with mental stability. For Veronica, it's her past life before she moved to Riverdale, the person she was before we meet her. For Jughead, it's that his living situation isn't what people think. For Cheryl, it's that her family is far from perfect.
4 The classic love triangle
Archie Andrews spent a lot of time in the comic books bouncing from romance with his best friend, Betty, to the rich and beautiful Veronica. He always struggled between which girl he loved the most. This plays into Riverdale, too, with Betty holding a secret love for Archie, which she eventually professes. It seems that he should feel the same, but he's so involved with his music teacher, that he rebuffs Betty. But that still doesn't stop him from spending "seven minutes of heaven" in the closet kissing Veronica, who he also seems attracted to. There's a classic love triangle in the works on Riverdale, and viewers will wonder which girl Archie will end up with next. What's even better, though, is that this doesn't seem to affect the friendship between Betty and Veronica.
3 It makes fun of high school stereotypes
Riverdale seems to love playing around with high school stereotypes, although it does it in a way that is more sarcastic than realistic. Take Betty, for example. She's the pony-tailed blonde good girl that lives next door to Archie and she seems perfect in every possible way, right down to her being a cheerleader. Then there's Kevin, Betty's gay best friend, because good girls always have one of those, right. Usually, it's Veronica who comments on these stereotypes, addressing Archie's struggle with football and music, "Can’t we just liberate ourselves from the tired dichotomy of jock/artist? Can’t we, in this post-James Franco world, be all things at once?” The show has a lot of fun with the stereotypes, but also shatters them when you look deeper.
2 The fashion
Sure, it's a show about a small town and high school, but this is probably the most fashionable small town and high school you will ever meet. Riverdale has some awesome fashion, and it's likely that designers chosen for the show will soon have empty shelves of kids trying to mimic these looks. Of course, there are the letterman jackets and cute cheerleading skirts, but when Veronica walks into a room in one of her many beautiful dresses, all eyes turn to her. She's also usually wearing killer heels (who really dresses like this in high school?) and makes several remarks about designers. Betty's good girl look is also always on point, and we love her cardigans and pastel colors. Let's also not forget the drama of Cheryl Blossom's wardrobe, proof that mean girls always know how to dress for the occasion.
1 The people behind the scenes
It takes a lot of talent behind the scenes to turn a comic book into a live action series, but The CW seems to excel at doing just that. This has everything to do with the people running the show at Riverdale, those people we never see onscreen. These are the people doing the heavy lifting, such as the writing, directing and producing. The show's writer is Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who is the creative director for Archie Comics. If anyone knows these characters, it's him. Producing the series is Greg Berlanti, a name everyone knows now, thanks to how well he's produced other comic book shows, such as The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl. He was also the producer behind Dawson's Creek, so he understands teenage drama very well.