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‘Riverdale’ embraces its complete lack of chill in episode 3
Yes, it’s an Archie Comics adaptation where Betty and Veronica perform a sexy hot tub interrogation scene.
In retrospect, we may have been a trifle harsh in our initial Riverdale review, which covered the first two episodes. The Glee-style quips still don’t make sense (why does Cheryl Blossom call Veronica “Frida Shallow” when she is neither an artist, nor shallow?) and Kevin is still a cringeworthy gay stereotype. But episode 3 forced us to confront the silver lining in Riverdale‘s cloud of clichés: It’s totally bonkers.
In the space of 42 minutes, we were gifted with a cornucopia of delicious, high-grade nonsense including:
- Alleged teenager Veronica Lodge wearing not one but two capes; one for breaking into the school in the dead of night, and a casual one to wear over her bathing suit.
- Jughead menacingly devouring the cherry from an Eagle Scout’s sundae, while questioning him about Jason Blossom’s murder.
- A squad of teen girls teaming up to expose a cabal of slutshaming football players, who catalogued their sexploits in the dude version of the Burn Book from Mean Girls.
- Betty and Veronica seducing one of the football players and handcuffing him in a hot tub for interrogation, where Betty began to channel the spirit of her mentally unstable sister Polly. (Could Betty actually be Polly, in some kind of multiple personality situation? We wouldn’t rule it out.) In a reference to the boys’ “sticky maple” slutshaming Instagram meme (teens!) Betty then poured maple syrup on his head, which was treated as a horrifying torture technique instead of a tasty snack.
- Twin Peaks alumnus Mädchen Amick as Betty’s mother, a cross between a glamorous soap opera matriarch and the evil mom from Carrie. This week’s highlight involved her dramatically wiping off Betty’s “bad girl” red lipstick, at which point the camera panned down to linger on the lipstick’s Covergirl logo. “It makes me feel powerful,” explained Betty, in a seamless merger between third wave feminism and product placement.
The episode’s one slightly dodgy subplot involved Archie joining Josie and the Pussycats at band practise, where he later took credit for co-writing one of their songs when he really just contributed a single word. It’s very hard to root for Archie’s milquetoast acoustic guitar career when the Pussycats, a band of self-described divas, are right there and are clearly better than him.
Otherwise, Riverdale‘s third episode was a great deal stronger than the previous two. Betty and Veronica’s revenge squad was on-the-nose but very satisfying, and the show is a lot more enjoyable when everyone just embraces its complete lack of chill.
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested.