A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Riverdale is a drama about a group of teens that's based on the classic Archie comics. The series has a much darker tone than the comics, with events revolving around the murder of a local teen boy, an illicit affair between a 15-year-old student and an adult teacher, and competitive friendships. A dead body with a distorted face is shown at length after a drowning, and various characters have secrets relating to the murder. Male and female characters are shown shirtless: females in bras, males nude from the waist up. Archie is frequently objectified and called things like "ginger stallion." A teen is shown having sex in the back of a car with a teacher, both shirtless and kissing (no private parts shown). Expect vulgar expressions for sex, but actual cursing is infrequent (and includes "ass" and "hell"). Characters call each other "bitch" more than once.
What's the story?
The town of RIVERDALE has been rocked by the death of football hero (and secret cad) Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines), and slowly his former friends and loved ones are changing. Fellow football player Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) has decided he wants to pursue a career in music instead of joining his dad's construction business; girl-next-door Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) is in a relationship with Archie; talented singer Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray) is ready to take her group the Pussycats to the next level; and new girl in town Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) complicates everyone's lives. And then there's Cheryl Blossom (Medelaine Petsch), cheerleader captain and resident evil queen of Riverdale. Meanwhile, Jughead (Cole Sprouse) sits back and watches the drama. But like just about everyone else in Riverdale, Jughead has secrets, too. But nothing stays secret for long in this town, and the friends' dramatic adventures and relationships take many twists and turns as the series progresses.
Is it any good?
Straining to escape the cheesiness of the old Archie comics, this series loads its storyline with new characters and complications, to the delight of many soap-loving teens. Not everyone will love the highfalutin language these kids use, but for others, it's just part of the show's campy charm: When Veronica introduces herself to Archie and Betty for the first time, she characterizes how she fits into Riverdale: "Are you familiar with the works of Truman Capote? Well, I'm Breakfast at Tiffany's, and this place is strictly In Cold Blood."
There are some issues with Riverdale. In the first season, 15-year-old Archie has sex with his teacher, an adult, without a ton of consequences. A teen is pregnant, and adult relationships are as complicated as those of the kids'. Young characters may talk like adults, but they have a lot to learn; teens who enjoy dark mysteries with a flair for the dramatic will probably enjoy getting wrapped up in Riverdale's world.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about dysfunctional family relationships and discuss why writers so often turn to them for good material, both for drama and comedy. What is it about the relationships in Riverdale that's compelling?
Families can also talk about the series of comics on which Riverdale is based. Why would they transform the light comedy of the cartoons into dark drama?
For kids who love comic characters
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.