Riverdale

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Riverdale TV Poster Image
Dark, dramatic take on Archie comics is campy fun.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 115 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 208 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Parents are present in each teen's life and run the gamut from caring to off-balance, yet they conveniently disappear during parties. Female competitiveness is emphasized, with characters arguing over power and male attention.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Veronica, formerly a spoiled brat, is trying to become a better person but, when push comes to shove, she behaves selfishly. Betty isn't given much of a character -- she exists more to amplify how awesome Archie is -- and other characters are "types": the gay best friend, the meathead jock, the cheerleader. 

Violence

A dead body is shown at length, with bloated and rotten flesh from drowning. 

Sex

As in the comic series, much of the show's plot is derived from a love triangle and romantic complications. Both male and female characters are shown undressed: female characters in bras, males shirtless. Archie in particular is frequently objectified and his hair color referred to; he's called things like a "ginger bull" and a "ginger stallion." An illicit couple (a 15-year-old student and an adult teacher) is shown having sex in a car, both shirtless (no private parts are visible). Archie is asked if he "tapped some cougar ass"; one teen asks another if he killed someone and "did things to the body" afterward. Two main teen characters have sex in a shower; no nudity.

Language

"Hell," "ass," "bitch." Girls call each other things like "fat" and "bitch."

Consumerism

Brands are mentioned: HBO, Adderall, Twitter. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Betty takes prescription Adderall; the show implies she doesn't need it. 

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. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMaria R. February 16, 2017

It isn't as inappropriate as people say it is

I have watched Riverdale myself and I have to say 13 and over is definitely the right age group. My daughter and her friends love the show. I have asked my da... Continue reading
Parent Written byJessica S. February 13, 2017

My kids love it

I have three kids one is 10 and I have twins and the ages are six. I let them watch it it is a great show. When they want to watch it I let them watch it under... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byspencermcdougall February 4, 2017

A little bit cliche but not bad at all

Everyone that is giving this show negative reviews needs to understand that this is not the happy archie comics we all read. This is a teen drama and the first... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byfuturefamous March 4, 2017
this show has the perfect amount of danger, drama and romance. i reccomend it for teenagers because it takes place in a high school so all the characters act li... Continue reading

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? 

TV details

For kids who love comic characters

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