Archie Comics Meet the 21st Century

By Maria Orlandi

If you haven’t already heard about CW’s latest show Riverdale, make sure you become acquainted with it now. Riverdale is based off the classic, beloved Archie comics, which chronicles the lives of a high-school friend group. It is well known for the famous love triangle among Archie: red-headed popular kid, Veronica: rich and aloof beauty, and Betty: the sweet girl next door. However, even though the new TV series is based off the comics, they are some definite differences between the two.

The Archie characters have been around since 1941 when Archie, Betty, and Veronica first appeared in an edition of Pep Comics. The famous comics have undergone many transformations throughout its years. In 2015, the comics were revamped to cater to more modern audiences. Ultimately, the creators of the Archie comics wanted to showcase a normal teenage boy, living in a normal American town (Riverdale), dealing with everyday teenage problems. That’s why so many teenagers love and connect so strongly with these comics – they really do paint a portrait of classic America and you can’t help but fall in love with the quirky characters.

So, how does the new drama series compare to the cherished comics? The truth is, Riverdale is pretty far from what the Archie comics are. The characters may have the same names, and similar personalities (Veronica is still the snooty rich girl, Betty is still the sweet and naive one) but many of the other characters have been changed in order to fit the story’s plot line – and to match the modern audience’s preferences. Riverdale begins with the startling murder of a high-school student, Jason Blossom, and the town’s reactions to his death. The main characters – Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead – quickly become tangled up in Jason’s death in various ways and the mystery of what really happened to Jason begins to unravel. 

Although the TV show may not have the same light-hearted appeal as the comics did, it still succeeds in connecting to teenage audiences. Some of the drama throughout the show is a bit far-fetched (such as Archie’s love affair with his music teacher and the mysterious murder of Jason). However, the show still manages to tie in the traditional teenage experiences of crushing on your best friend, sneaking out late at night, and going to football games and movies. The TV-show also better matches the demographics of modern audiences by including more characters of color with the Pussycat band, and more LGBT characters such as Kevin Keller, the gay son of Riverdale’s sheriff and one of Betty’s best friends. Altogether, these changes have gained Riverdale well-deserved praise as it succeeds in bringing back something classical and beloved but also succeeds in transforming it for the modern day.

One sure thing about both the Archie comics and Riverdale is they’ll both get you hooked. Riverdale’s mystery and intrigue will quickly sweep you up in its story and the comics will keep you reading as you laugh along to all the mishaps of high-school life.


Featured image courtesy of IDWPublishing