Fans of the long running Archie Comics (founded in 1939) were surprised and ecstatic to discover a series was in development at CW, but nobody could have prepared themselves for the direction it is headed. Announced as a midseason show, it has remained very discreet about details of the upcoming adaptation until fans at San Diego Comic Con received a special treat with the first look at the pilot episode for Riverdale.
Many of the major characters were brought into the story with the most noteworthy being Archie, Betty, Veronica, and, of course, Jughead — all necessary roles that have become the faces of the Archie Comics world, but some stood out more than others. While Jughead will undoubtedly be an interesting character (and it’s Cole Sprouse!), he was placed as a backburner narrator role for the time being. Archie has his goofy uncertainty about life, girls, friends, and everything you can expect him to waver on with Veronica being the new girl with sass that catches nearly everyone’s eye. Despite having a plethora of characters, it’s Betty who stands out from the rest as the most captivating character in Riverdale.
From the moment we meet Betty, she’s the sweet adorable blonde girl who has a meek side to her that others are fully aware of. Her interest in Archie is very much present in Riverdale as expected, but, unlike others in young love stories, she has so much more to offer than a lovesick demeanor. I don’t want to spoil too much before the series airs later this season, but Betty is doing her best to cope with severe family issues, an Adderall prescription, and coming out of her shell to find out who she is aside from what everyone wants or expects her to be. That’s not to say Betty is a victim (because she may have been in the past), but, when we meet her, she’s on the cusp of personal breakthroughs that will serve as major plot points in Riverdale — ones I’m most excited to see play out.
Riverdale takes a darker approach from the comics, opening with a murder mystery that will carry us through the season (and we were promised answers by the end of Season 1!). Everyone has secrets in Riverdale, so it doesn’t set up your typical youth-skewing series — making you want to know who’s hiding what and who can or can’t be trusted. With the concept pulling me in as a viewer, the series is only enhanced with such a complex pivotal character like Betty (played by the young and talented Lili Reinhart) facing coming of age struggles and a compassionate characterization that makes it impossible not to root for Betty as Riverdale progresses. The pilot could be described as a definitive strong contribution for the network, but, with someone as well rounded as Betty, it pushed Riverdale to a series worth watching when it airs in early 2017.