Riverdale: Season 2 — a review

Okay. Let’s face facts here, gang. This is a ridiculous show.

I’m not kidding. Ridiculous. It has few redeeming qualities, and I’ll probably forget most of it in a few years. It is not a deeply layered drama with multidimensional characters and themes that stick with you for more than a few days. It’s schlock, it’s trash, the television equivalent of a B-movie. It’s an outdated comic book series viewed through a dark, twisted glass.

Having said that: I’ve enjoyed watching this series.

There’s plenty of things without real substance that I’ve enjoyed in life. Empty calories, of course. Stupid songs (including The Archies’ “Sugar Sugar”). Even many of the aforementioned B-movies. Along with my wife, I recently watched a two-hour live performance of Puddles Pity Party. Not a life-changing event, and mostly ridiculous; but, I enjoyed it.

I don’t require that much depth from my choices in entertainment.

If you do, then stay away from the series. It’s ridiculous.

I compared the first season of Riverdale to Veronica Mars for its season-long murder mystery and noir-ish leanings. I was concerned that this series would experience the same sophomore slump as VM after the murder mystery was solved at the end of the first season. I think that Riverdale did a better job recovering, and it did so by running one episode too long in the first season, in order to end on a cliffhanger introducing the Black Hood and the potential death of Fred Andrews. SPOILER: Fred doesn’t die.

The serial killer—the Black Hood—becomes the overarching mystery of the second season. The mystery is seemingly solved partway through the season, but (SPOILERS, again), it’s not really. And, the conclusion is an oddly satisfying one.

The show does experience an identity crisis, however. Is it a serial killer drama, or a crime drama, a family drama, a political drama, or a gang drama?

It continues to dabble in alternate sexuality without really committing to it as an actual plotline. Kevin is engaging in risky cruising behavior. He also kisses Moose. Cheryl Blossom also comes out, as bisexual, at the very least, if not lesbian.

Miss Grundy, problematic dangling plot thread from Season One, ceases to dangle early on in this season. Jughead becomes the King of the Serpents, and is joined by both Betty and her mom (no, not like that, so get your mind out of the gutter: at least, not like that yet). Archie becomes a darker version of himself, maybe even a villain, in his work with Hiram Lodge and his own fascist, Neighborhood Watch tendencies. Along the way, there’s both a town mayoral race and a class president race. And, there’s a high school musical production of Carrie (which, as it turns out, is a real musical, which makes this show somehow even more ridiculous). One second-tier Archie character is actually murdered at the climax of the musical in a way that will make lovers of the de Palma movie proud. Oh, Jughead and Betty are a hot couple now. And, it turns out that Betty has a secret older brother, Chic, whom she locates and brings into the show. Guess what? He’s a bit creepy, and possibly not even her brother. Also, Betty may have gotten him killed, though I doubt it.

This should impart some of the ridiculousness of this series. This Byzantine plotting and random nature of the show is part of the reason why it’s not as good as it could be, as well. As long as it’s entertaining, I’ll still keep watching, but it is a largely confusing mash of colors and motion and melodrama.

I find that I enjoy the older adults on this show even more than I do the younger adults pretending to be teenagers. They all seem to be aware that they are in a ridiculous series and sometimes play their parts a little too broadly. Luke Perry is probably my favorite actor on the show (something I never thought I’d write or say), and may just be the only one playing his role straight. The fact that Archie’s mom is Molly Ringwald is just an Easter Egg for older viewers such as myself.

I’ll probably wait until the third season is available on Netflix to watch it. But, rest assured, I’ll be watching it. Probably while consuming empty calories of some sort.

My score for this series? I think it’s fitting.

Grade: B.

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