By Derek Etter
Social Media & Marketing Editor
The bright, red, hair of Archie Andrews is undoubtedly a memorable characteristic of the popular comic book series named for his character. In 2017, the universe surrounding the still-running comic series was reimagined into a TC show called “Riverdale.” The show, on The CW Network, featured a cast of up and comic actors like Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper, Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge, and KJ Apa as Archie Andrews himself. And although based on settings and characters from the comics, the first season of the show is an entirely different story. After airing the show quickly grew a cult following, and especially for binge-watchers like me when it was released on Netflix. In October 2017, the show began its second season and has now utilized its captivating plot and large following to spread important messages.
The show is obviously no stranger to spreading messages of positivity and supporting marginalized voices. In the first season, viewers find the familiar girl band “Josie and the Pussycats” reimagined, once again as a feline band, but as a troupe of 3 African-American students. The classic members of the band, Josie, Valerie, and Melody, have their own stories weaved into the main plot that lament the everyday struggles of oppression and having a voice as female POC. Initially being treated as a pushover by Archie for his interest in music, the Pussycats show viewers what it really means to speak up for yourself without causing a fuss. By showing a perspective for these familiar characters, it helps all viewers learn about struggles they may not necessarily relate with, but they can now understand with more sympathy.
With the second season in the middle of it’s run, all new plots and characters have been added. However, one of these important voices is coming from a character that we’ve been familiar with since the first season. Kevin Keller, a relatively new character to the comics, already broke boundaries when introduced as the first openly gay character in Archie comics. The show has since given a voice to the LGBT community through Keller. Not only is Keller not a hyper feminine portrait of a gay male, a stereotypical and often unreal perspective, but he is not made into a token character. He is vital to the plot and influences the plot in a way that is other than just to provide a few laughs every time he goes “YAAAAS Queen!” (Which he doesn’t, ever.) Kevin’s experiences as a young gay male in a small town ring true on many notes, and the show goes into depth on feeling worthless, being bullied, and even the not-so-wonderful side of being a single gay teen, cruising. The S2 plot goes so far as to have Kevin’s friends stage an intervention for his aimless hookups as he looks for love. These valuable lessons are UNSEEN in modern pop culture, and the solutions to each issue are beautifully and truthfully presented.
It is messages like this that show how powerful a TV show can really be. Sure, we all enjoy binge-watching episode after episode of an addicting tv show until the wee hours of the morning, but not often do we find a show with a powerful message for its demographic. Whether or not you are affected by the issues in the show, (SPOILER: I really hope your dad didn’t murder your twin brother), it is with certainty that I say Riverdale is a show more than just its plot. As someone who has experienced with issues presented within the show, I am thankful for its identification with marginalized voices and not just representing a broader demographic. With more shows like this dominating pop culture, we can all learn something about each other.
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