Listen... I loved Riverdale.
When it first came out, I was really into the whole “murder mystery” plot, and the tales of what can happen in this tiny town located in New York. The characters were interesting enough, the couples believable, and I found myself cheering for this small little high school and everything they were trying to do. It was the epitome of cliché, but it was something I genuinely enjoyed, despite there being smaller issues that could easily be glossed over.
However, it seems that as of late, Riverdale has lost its charm. And this isn’t a new occurrence – it’s been around for some time now, with declines in viewership showing the change. From the moment Season 3 began, I felt that the show was slowly beginning to lose me, even with certain moments in Season 2 as well. But now, I feel like this new Riverdale is the complete opposite of what it used to be, and these are the issues that I have with it.
Archie. Just Archie.
Look, I know that this series is a loose adaptation of the Archie comics, but Riverdale has taken me on a rollercoaster of emotions from how much I liked Archie in Season 1 to how much I loathed him later on.
In the first season of Riverdale, Archie was this seemingly cool sophomore in high school who had an interest in sports and music. He meets Veronica Lodge and starts a high school relationship. He had friends and did regular high school things that seemed normal for Riverdale at the time, like entering into a talent show.
However, in the later seasons of Riverdale, Archie does some stupid stuff.
In order to get in well with Veronica’s dad, Hiram Lodge, he begins to do tasks for him that are most certainly illegal (because Hiram is affiliated with the mob). But of course, Hiram doesn’t like Archie no matter what and Archie ends up getting sent to jail. After that, he pushes away his friends and becomes this distant dude that feels completely off.
I understand that Archie has been through a lot, but these are his friends. His family. I mean in Season 4, the boy just lost his dad (due to the unfortunate passing of Luke Perry), but he continues to push his friends and family away, and even goes so far as to cheat on his girlfriend - with his best friend.
It infuriates me. He feels like a lost puppy - maybe he can find his way back soon.
Honestly, All Of The Characters Have Changed So Much
I know it’s normal for characters to evolve in TV and movies. That’s completely okay – in fact, that’s what we want most of the time, to see some character development. However, the characters of Riverdale have shown so many new sides of each other that nothing feels believable anymore.
Take Cheryl, for example. Yes, she’s the typical mean girl, but this young woman has had so many complicated stages that I’m starting to wonder if she’s truly sane. She’s a typical mean girl one moment, then super nice the next, then parading around her brother’s corpse after – she’s all over the place and I can’t keep up. Nothing feels right.
She’s not the only character that’s had issues, but she’s most certainly the one that stands out the most. The evolutions aren’t natural – everything feels forced for the sake of drama.
The Relationships Don’t Feel Genuine Anymore
When Riverdale first began, I found myself rooting for these small couples that have formed. Betty and Jughead were sweet, Veronica and Archie were hot, and the regular high school shenanigans that they got into felt normal.
However, these later seasons have basically destroyed these relationships. Archie and Veronica feel toxic now with how often they have fought and broken up, before getting back together in some weird steamy sex scene. Betty and Jughead are actually related, and yet they stayed together for some time. In normal everyday manner, this isn't alright. There are some couples like Cheryl and Toni that feel a little bit closer to the earlier days of Riverdale, where couples weren’t so horrible, but even they have had their moments that rub me the wrong way.
Also, don’t even get me started on the whole Betty and Archie thing. I already went off earlier. It feels like they’re just creating a scandal for the sake of it and it has no relevance to the story. I can’t support that.
The Villains Keep Getting Stranger – And Not In A Good Way
I’m all about escalating villains in TV shows and movies. It’s what keeps us interested and tuning in every week or heading to the movie theaters. But the villains in Riverdale don’t make sense to me. Yes, they are escalating the seriousness of each villain but they’re…weird.
In Season 2, the introduction of the Black Hood was interesting, because it was sort of combining the first season’s mystery murder with an active threat. But over time, the realism of each of the Black Hood’s kills began to dwindle, and I feel like they really tried at the very end to somehow wrap up this plot, though not neatly.
Then, Season 3 came along and introduced basically a knock-off of Dungeons and Dragons that started to take over the town and cause people to die, and that carried on over into the fourth season, and there was this monster-killer called the “Gargoyle King” that felt like such a fantasy show but this was a teen drama and...
I'm going to cut myself off before I rant again. The thing that made Riverdale so great in the beginning was the simplicity of the show’s first season, all about trying to find out who the murderer was, but recently, it feels overcomplicated, and not in a Game of Thrones, every-villain-has-a-meaning type of way.
The Show Has Gotten Unnecessarily Dark
One of the brightest bulbs of Riverdale Season 1 was that it balanced dark aspects with regular old high school life, making it a fun show to watch. But over the last couple of seasons, there have been moments that have just been unnecessarily too dark for a show like this – moments that feel out of place.
For example, the whole “jingle-jangle” epidemic back in Season 2. I get that they were trying to infuse in the message that drugs are bad and everything but to an extent, it was almost laughable. I mean, the whole entire cheer team have a seizure at the same time? The chances of that happening are slim to none. It's not realistic any more.
Another instance is Betty’s pole dance back in Season 2. She wanted to prove to Jughead that she was ready to be the girlfriend of someone in the Serpents, but the whole scene felt off and uncomfortable and not needed. And I don’t want to hear that it was “supposed” to do that. This scene could have been done differently, with Betty embracing her sexuality and coming into her young womanhood, becoming confident in who she was and who she was dating, but this version feels like a little girl trying to do that one dance she saw on TV and thinks she’s nailing it. It's cringy.
I get that Riverdale can be dark sometimes but there are moments that do not fit.
Please, No More Musical Episodes
I still, to this day, don’t understand why they do musical episodes. Riverdale isn’t a musical. It’s never been marketed as a musical. It’s never been told that it’s the next Glee. It’s supposed to be a teen drama that is sometimes dark – not suddenly everyone singing “Candy Store” from Heathers.
This isn’t High School Musical. I would be more supportive of these episodes if it was only students signing up for a musical and having all of the songs take place in the auditorium, as if they are practicing for the show, but they fully embrace everything being musical – right down to the random musical numbers in their homes.
I’d also be more accepting if it was a one-off thing. Like, maybe the Carrie musical wasn’t that bad because at least that one was dark and related to Riverdale a little bit more with the death at the end, but Heathers? And Hedwig and the Angry Inch? And having it happen every season since Season 2? There's no point.
With Season 5 well-underway for Riverdale, and CW announcing that Season 6 is already in the works, there’s still time to fix the mistakes of the past. Maybe one day we can return back to when Riverdale was a normal little town.
However, I don’t see that happening anytime soon, unfortunately.
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A self-proclaimed nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, Alexandra Ramos is a Content Producer at CinemaBlend. She first started off working in December 2020 as a Freelance Writer after graduating from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Journalism and a minor in English. She primarily works in features for movies, TV, and sometimes video games. (Please don't debate her on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!) She is also the main person who runs both our daily newsletter, The CinemaBlend Daily, and our ReelBlend newsletter.