So Riverdale was renewed for a second season. And as I’ve been having some lovely weekly twitter chats with fellow viewers, where we’ve been discussing the shortcomings of this current season.
So I thought that maybe I could offer a few suggestions for what you should be thinking about for season 2?
1. Make Jughead Jones aroace. The fact that you didn’t from the very start was more than just disappointing, it was a huge misstep. I know, it’s an AU, but somehow Veronica is still rich, Betty an overchiever, and Archie still plays football and is interested in music. Having Jughead being aroace is a core part of the character (literally, nothing changed about him – just that they finally had a label to describe it), and if you haven’t come up with an actual legitimate story arc about him realizing this? It’s time to actually come out with it. And talk to people in the aroace community (which btw, isn’t the same as asexual. It’s very different, and think pieces from the ace community saying that the Betty/Jughead storyline is a-okay with them is insulting), to make sure that you aren’t making matters worse. Aroace gets very little visibility out there, and for teenagers trying to figure out where they fit, you could actually help them feel like they fit somewhere.
2. Stop it with the sexual predators. Sex between adults and teens is gross, and something that happens in the real world – and it’s constantly diminished. (I just saw a news story today that referred to an adult school teacher who slept with 14 year old students as a modern ‘Mrs Robinson’ despite the fact that that’s rape, and Mrs Robinson was an adult who had a consenting relationship with an adult college student.) Stop glamorizing sexual abuse. The whole Grundy storyline had zero pay-off other than making a bunch of people really uncomfortable and questioning just how heartless the parents of Riverdale were.
3. Maybe make your characters a little more human? I quit caring about who killed Jason, because other than his academic accolades, everyone just kept talking about how terrible he was. The only character who had anything nice to say about Jason was Cheryl, who’s been so unlikeable that it’s hard to care about her either.
The reason Twin Peaks worked so well was that despite Laura Palmer’s double life, people loved her and it was apparent. So you loved her too. I get that the Blossoms are a creepy family and that made their kids weird, but it took so long for us to find that out, that I’d already quit caring.
4. Decide on what your mystery is now, and make sure that moves along in every episode. It’s obvious looking back, that you guys had a lot of things you wanted to fit into the first few episodes, in case that’s all you had. As good an episode as B&V uncovering the slutshaming was, between that and the Grundy reveal episode – there were two back to back episodes where nothing happened to further the mystery of who killed Jason Blossom. So by the time we got back to it, most people I know didn’t really care anymore. (Even now, I mostly care about Polly’s side of the story, not Jason) And while we’re slowly getting some crumbs now, you can’t undo that loss of momentum. It still feels like in Riverdale, Betty and Jughead care about who killed Jason. (Outside of the Blossoms)
5. And dropping plot points. If Polly wasn’t a brunette, why did Betty go for the black wig? Where is Jughead living? Is Moose still chasing after Kevin? How did the Blossoms think that inviting half the town would expose Jason’s killer?
6. Kevin deserves better. Why exactly is Kevin’s dialogue basically Will from Will & Grace? Kevin’s a gay kid of NOW, not a 30 year old guy from the 90s. He’s literally written as every stereotype you can think of, and calling out those stereotypes (the gay best friend, guy cruising for hook ups), doesn’t change the fact that you’re still resorting to using them.
Most importantly, 7. Decide what you are. Are you Riverdale Noir? Riverdale Gothic? A generic teen drama? Make up your mind, and stick to it. All the yo-yoing between styles and genres makes it hard for the characters and storyline to find a groove. I love the vintage feel the show has at times, which fits very much with a noir story – but then the story will shift gears to something that yanks me from that.