If You’re a ‘Riverdale’ Fan, You’ll Absolutely Love These Things, Too
By Martin Aguilera
Riverdale's back tonight with Episode 31: A Night to Remember, and it got us thinking...
When Riverdale landed on CW in October 2017, it quickly became one of TV’s most exciting new shows by taking the beloved iconography of the classic Archie Comics, its world and its characters and molding them into something altogether moody, atmospheric, sexy, sleek, and above all… deliciously fun! This 21st century spin on America was the brainchild of showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, a lifelong Archie mega-fan who had wanted to bring a proper version of the Riverdale gang to the screen. Initially spun as a teen movie for Warner Brothers, the project was eventually re-conceptualized as an episodic series, and we’re all the better for it. Week after week the denizens of Riverdale — Archie, Jughead, Betty Veronica, Kevin, Cheryl, Josie, and all their cohorts – become steeped in the deeper and evolving mysteries that owe as much to the pop culture landscape as they do to their source material. Aguirre-Sacasa, having been a writer on Glee and Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark musical, is not stranger to fangirl/fanboy culture. Every episode is infused with the cultural influence of so many things most of us love (and, hello, Cole Sprouse, Lili Reinhart, K.J. Apa, Camila Mendes, Madelaine Petsch) – not just the Archie Comics themselves, but movies, music, books, and other shows themselves (Twin Peaks, anyone?). Enjoying the show not only for the stories it’s unspooling, but for the deeper appreciation it offers, led me to come up with a few things you will love if you are enjoying the awesome sweetness that is Riverdale.
ONE. The novels of Lois Duncan. Killing Mr. Griffin, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Down A Dark Hall, Stranger with My Face. The list goes on, and the late Lois Duncan remains one of the most dynamic and exciting of YA thriller writers. There was always something so honest, so real about her portrayal of young people – the dangerous situations they were in never felt improbable, and if you appreciate the noir vibe of Riverdale, everything she’s written is the thing for you.
TWO. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, film by Francis Ford Coppola. For those Serpent aficionados out there, Hinton’s timeless book about a group of boys growing up on “the wrong side of the tracks” will remind you of the angst of the beautifully forlorn Jughead, who as played by the hottie Cole Sprouse on the show, frequently seems to channel something of the character of Ponyboy. You’ll long for him as much as you long for Jughead. Stay gold.
THREE. DJ Shadow’s album Endtroducing. Few albums capture a particular mood and tone, but this exceptional work from an exceptional artist is a wonderful companion to the way Riverdale makes you feel. The tracks weave from hip hop infusions to slow and ethereal operettas of synth, and everything about the experience of the album is unique. If music is the soundtrack to our lives, Endtroducing is the album you can listen to for getting down with your significant other, or running from peril through the woods alone at night, and that’s not something that can be said about many albums. Check it out!
FOUR. Carrie by Stephen King, film by Brian De Palma. Untrustworthy parents, bitchy classmates, prom night humiliation…and sweet vengeance. You don’t get many classic high school stories like this one, and it just so happens that Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa also wrote the remake of the original film. (We can forgive him for that.) The latest attempt at remaking it wasn’t successful, but what has been kept in the show is the sense of loneliness and alienation many teens feel. Especially vindictive ones. Keep a side eye on your prom date…because you never know…
FIVE. Detour . Fast-talking dames. Men with secrets. This 1945 noir classic from director Edgar Ulmer will have you on the edge of your seat. It remains a classic of its kind, and because the film is in the public domain, it remains easily accessible via various platforms. Detour weaves a spell that is reminiscent of the style and mood captured by Riverdale. It also happens to have a shocking finale…which you must see for yourselves to believe. This one is definitely for the Veronicas out there.
SIX. The films of John Hughes. Molly Ringwald (who plays Archie’s mom in Riverdale) features prominently in many of these 80’s gems. The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink. The movies capture an idealism, and an honesty, about teenage life that few things out there manage to replicate. Riverdale brings some of the John Hughes factor to the table, especially in the earnestness of Archie’s character. For that very reason, they’re worth watching.
Riverdale airs on CW Wednesdays at 8 PM
About the Author
Martin Aguilera is an LA-based writer and filmmaker whose tastes range between the sacred and profane. When not pondering the longstanding problems of virtue and happiness, he’s typically drinking coffee and browsing at libraries or bookstores.
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