When I talk about Batman (which I do much more than the average person), I often mention how he’s a versatile character. He can be dark and brooding or light and goofy. He can be starkly realistic, or more science fiction-ish. I really couldn’t think of another character who was more flexible. Until now.
Turns out our old childhood pal Archie Andrews and his gang from Riverdale can morph into multiple genres. In the past decade, Archie and the gang has had some major changes. First, they introduced their first gay character, Kevin Keller. Quite a surprise that a comic seemed rooted in the 1950s would be so progressive. But Kevin was a success, much to the dismay of those not quote a million moms.
From that, Life With Archie had a If/Then storyline where in one version, Archie married Betty and in the other, he married Veronica. It had comic fans talking about Archie comics again. And if that weren’t enough, before the comic ended, they killed Archie Andrews. He died saving the life of the now senator Kevin Keller.
After that, Archie got dark. Even Riverdale was not safe from the zombie phenomena. Afterlife with Archie launched a new horror imprint for Archie and the gang. And in 2015, they launched an even more modern take on Archie and the gang with the New Riverdale line. And this television season, Archie and the gang have taken teen television by storm in the new Riverdale nighttime soap (sorry, that’s what it is).
But that’s not a bad thing. Riverdale is a wonderful guilty pleasure. It’s a distant love child of Twin Peaks (it even has Mädchen “Shelly Johnson” Amick as Betty’s mom to help drive that point home). It starts with a murder and more of the town secrets are revealed from there.
I’m sure some Archie purists (there must be some) may not easily digest the changes to this now grown-up Archie. As Kevin Keller notes early on in the first episode: “Archie got hot!” Not only that, but he’s sexually active with… Ms. Grundy!?!?
No, Ms. Grundy is no longer the aged, lanky prude from the comics. She’s the hot music teacher. And acts quite inappropriately with her students. She’s just one of many characters who have grown up and evolved for this TV drama.
And the thing is, it works. If you are even the slightest familiar with the comic books, you already have a basic knowledge of these characters. So to see them taking on the modern world is enough to engage you. And the show being well-written and acted is a plus.
But hey, that doesn’t mean you have to kiss good-bye the old Archie gang. They have over 75 years of the classic, silly wholesome comics to their name. And I’m sure over 75 more to come. So you can have your Archies any way you want them! Even when it comes to their images on an Archie t-shirt. Let’s enjoy a look back at Archie then and now.