Riverdale: This Ain’t Your Childhood’s Archie Andrews

There’s a good old all-American “gee whiz” quality about Archie comics, those tried and true comic books that have been around since your grandpa thumbed through an issue back in the 1940s. You won’t find that in the new TV version airing on the CW network.

No, in the latest installment, Kevin Keller was trolling the woods for anonymous gay hook-ups and Archie was becoming a vigilante. They have, as they say, strayed from the canon.

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Riverdale is the CW’s riff on all-American boy Archie Andrews and his pals, but you won’t find these stories in your comic book collection.

I have to admit to being fascinated by this show. I generally like it when people take risks with interpreting potentially stale material. I enjoyed the now-cancelled Will, the punk rock meets Shakespeare take on the Bard. I think the new Dynasty reboot is one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. And I find the BBC’s Still Open All Hours a sweet (and still funny) homage to the original.

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Original Archie and TV Archie. New Zealander KJ Apa plays the famously red haired hero thanks to a lot of hair dye.

Riverdale is a mashup of Archie Comics, Twin Peaks and every Brat Pack 80s movie. It’s dark — and getting darker by the episode — and more than a bit twisted (Archie had a torrid affair with Miss Grundy; Kevin had a one-off with Moose Mason; Jughead is a fledging gang member).

The storylining is good, the dialogue is a little bit forced, and they may be trying a bit too hard for relevance. Is it too much to ask to see a teen scene at the Chock’lit Shoppe where they are not talking about a murder? Or gangland troubles from the Southside Serpents? Or Riverdale’s new drug scourge, “jingle jangle?”

I do have to give them some props for the Kevin in the woods hooking-up story. It’s a pretty deep take on an issue that we certainly are not seeing on television. It’s going to cause a big riff between Kevin (a strong performance from Casey Cott) and BFF Betty Cooper, but it raises some pretty potent issues that deserve to be talked about. (I’d encourage a read of Ariana Romero’s recent excellent piece on Refinery29.)

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One-time teen screen idols Luke Perry (Beverly Hills 90210) and Molly Ringwald (Pretty in Pink) play Archie’s estranged parents in Riverdale.

Forsythe Pendleton Jones, III — you’ll probably know him best as Jughead — narrates the thing. And former Disney tween star Cole Sprouse does a fine job of playing a broody, intelligent, jaded, slightly smart-mouthed chronicler in a ‘whoopee cap.’

He is, for all the world, channeling every broody, intelligent, jaded, slightly smart-mouthed character that Andrew McCarthy played in every movie he was ever in in the 80s (with the possible exception of Weekend at Bernie’s). But, while it may be derivative, I can’t say it’s a bad thing!

Take old Riverdale out for a spin and see what you think. Whatever happens, you won’t be feeling any warm, fuzzy childhood nostalgia, that’s for sure!

Kevin Keller: It Gets Better

It was Kevin Keller Day recently courtesy of the It Gets Better Project and Archie Comics. Keller, you may know, is Archie Andrews’ pal from Riverdale, U.S.A. and, in addition to appearing in other Archie Comics titles, fronts his own eponymous book.

Thanks to Dan Parent, who created Kevin Keller, the world of Archie Comics has gotten exponentially better — not to mention more diverse and incredibly more affirming. Not bad for a town where Archie, Jughead and company have been high school juniors since 1941!

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Superman as gay teen … or gay teen as Superman. Works either way. | Image: Dan Parent/Archie Comics. Click image for more Kevin Keller.

Archie Comics Stepping Up to the Plate in Next ‘Kevin Keller’ Issue

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Riverdale gay teen Kevin Keller and his boyfriend Devon draw some ire from a resident in the next issue of ‘Kevin Keller.’ Image: Archie Comics

Gay kiss in upcoming Archie Comics a poke at real controversy – LGBTQ Nation.

It’s a just quick kiss, but it’s a huge step forward for Archie Comics’ only openly gay character Kevin Keller.

The Riverdale teen finds his life turned upside down after locking lips with his boyfriend, Devon, in Pop Tate’s diner, drawing the ire of at least one disapproving Riverdale mom.

Remember when Archie and Jughead and company were beyond lame? Who knew that now Riverdale is on the cutting edge! Keep it up, Archie!