The Buzz: Riverdale is dark, edgy and disappointing

“Did you tune into Riverdale last night?” may not have been a particularly common conversation starter last week, but we’re going to talk about it anyway. The show, which may be the most CW show CW has ever created, premiered last week to mixed results. Elsewhere, the SAG Awards handed out their trophies, and Stranger Things once again made a plea to make headlines. For these stories and more, read on:

Riverdale series premier review: Last week, I confidently predicted Riverdale would be a hit. It’s a television adaption to the beloved Archie Comics, at a time where comic book adaptions are at an all time high. But the premier definitely feels like a missed opportunity. The show is sleek and stylish, and exudes a dark atmosphere. Young, beautiful people are overdramatic about everything. Instead of feeling familiar to the comics, the show feels more familiar to any typical teen drama flooding networks right now. Riverdale is familiar programming, but not in the way it should be.

The first episode introduces many of the comics’ beloved characters, including Archie Andrews (K. J. Apa), Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) and Ronnie Lodge (Camila Mendes). The similarities essentially end there. Sweet Josie McCoy is now rude and condescending – though Ashleigh Murray, who plays her, has a killer voice. Jughead Jones is now a brooding journalist with a dark past instead of the easygoing, food-loving sidekick he once was. It feels like an entirely different from the comics that just happens to share the same character names, which is odd considering Archie Comics’ chief creative officer Robert Aguirre-Sacasa is writing the show.

The show is set in a modern day interpretation of Riverdale, a small town that is shocked when Jason Bloom, one of its brightest high school students, dies in a boating accident on the river. Everyone in the town seems to have some sort of secret, many of which may be related to what truly happened on the river. We’ll figure that out in tidbits as the season goes along. For now, though we have to focus on the Archie-Betty-Ronnie love triangle. Because, you know, teenage drama.

The show is well acted, even in the face of Aguirre-Sacasa’s on the nose dialogue. If people talked in the real world they way they talked in Riverdale, I would be afraid to ever speak, because I would know a searing, well-detailed insult is almost always coming my way. It makes for glossy television, but sometimes it just feels silly. There must be something in the water at Riverdale.

As its own entity, the premier is a decent, not particularly outstanding piece of drama. It’s like someone took every CW show and smashed it into one, when it could have been something entirely unique. Perhaps the show will be able to refine its own voice as the season goes on, but for now, there’s nothing to get too excited about.

Screen Actors Guild Awards: Denzel Washington and Mahershala Ali took home the top movie prizes at the SAG Awards last week. Washington won outstanding performance in a leading role for this role in Fences, in a category that has identical nominees to the Academy Awards. Ali took home outstanding supporting role, after surprisingly losing out at the Golden Globes. And poor Ryan Gosling gazed sagely at Emma Stone as she thanked him in her acceptance speech.

On the television side, John Lithgow took home the prize for his performance in The Crown. “I never would have cast myself as Winston Churchill,” he said before tearfully thanking everyone who helped him. William H. Macy also won for his role in Shameless. He previously won a SAG in 2003 for his performance in TV movie Door to Door.

The highlight of the night came from Stranger Things’ David Harbour as he accepted the award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series. This must have been a breath of fresh air for the kid actors, who have been consistently making headlines for months by showing up to awards shows, usually with some wacky gimmick to draw attention. I love the show as much as every single other person in the universe seems to, but it’s getting a little overbearing. Anyway, Harbour’s speech was inspiring, if a little cryptic.

“Great acting can change the world. This is a call to arms from our fellow craftsmen and women to go deeper,” he said as Winona Ryder looked quizzically over his shoulder. “And through our art to battle against fear, self-centeredness and exclusivity of our predominately narcissistic culture and through our craft to cultivate a more empathetic and understanding society by revealing intimate truths that serve as a forceful reminder to folks that when they feel broken and afraid and tired they are not alone.” He didn’t even pause for breath. “We are united in that we are all human beings and we are all together on this horrible, painful, joyous, exciting and mysterious ride that is being alive.”

Wow! Keep this up, and there will be world peace in no time. Really though, let’s just all breathe a sigh of relief the kids didn’t take turns delivering that speech, or deliver it in perfect four-part harmony, like they probably wanted.