For a while, I was that asshole teenager who disdained everything that was “mainstream” and generally well-liked by my peers and the greater part of society. (A very real example of this is when I asked my fifth-grade class to pick between Twilight and Harry Potter for a math project about bar graphs and gave a page-long analysis explaining why Harry Potter is the better, more obviously intellectual choice.) I eventually grew out of this mindset– because, again, I was an asshole. Who was I (a pimply, awkward, deeply insecure preteen girl with minimal life experience) to judge the Twihards in my class? I can trace my growth back to a singular event that uprooted my sensibilities and ultimately changed the course of my entire life.
On January 26th, 2017, the CW aired what has now become its flagship show– a television series with insane plot twists, unpredictable character development, and zany dialogue that is entirely unparalleled. Yes, this show is Riverdale.
I am highly aware and have been extremely vocal about the fact that Riverdale bears little cinematic value and has not added anything to the greater landscape of film and prestige television, but this has not stopped my housemates from roasting the shit out of me whenever they catch me watching it on our TV. On some level, I understand where they’re coming from. The plot is unhinged, and the characters have neither redeeming qualities nor common sense. Despite all these flaws, there is not a single show that is able to deliver the same rush that Riverdale gives me every Thursday.
I can appreciate the finer things in life– I love indie movies like Frances Ha (2013) and prestige television like Succession. Yet after a long day filled with anxiety ranging from social to existential, the last thing I want to do is watch a morality tale that bears an all too familiar resemblance to my own life. Sometimes– and these days, it’s more like a lot of the time– I like to be able to remove myself from my mundane existence and watch something that doesn’t force me to ponder life’s greatest questions. I’m not out here looking to be enlightened, but rather the opposite.
Not everything needs to be a highbrow criticism of society or technically “good” in order to be great. There’s a reason why Real Housewives and The Bachelor are some of television’s greatest franchises from both a financial and ratings perspective. (There’s a whole conversation about why many shows geared towards a female audience are incorrectly labelled as “trash,” but that is not something I will discuss here.) It’s the reason why I stay up for hours watching Kyle Cooke and his privileged friends get blackout drunk every weekend on Summer House, and why I love Point Break (1991).
Watching Point Break is an experience bordering on surreal; half the time, you’re asking yourself, what the fuck am I watching? Keanu Reeves is a rookie FBI agent named Johnny Utah. Patrick Swayze is Bodhi, the surfing bank robber that Keanu is trying to catch who he accidentally befriends. Keanu’s character doesn’t even use an alias? Like, you’re a trained FBI agent with a stripper name, I’m sure you can figure something out. One of its most iconic moments features Keanu jumping out of a plane parachute-less to catch Patrick Swayze mid-air. The movie is a mess, but it’s a mess that is dear to my heart even if it barely makes sense.
Even if they do lack the refined finishes of Oscar and Emmy-winning work, no one can say that shows and movies like Riverdale and Point Break lack entertainment value. Movies and shows that take themselves too seriously are way less fun to watch than those with blatant plot holes and bad dialogue.
Your taste in entertainment doesn’t need to be a binary choice between “good” and “bad”. You liking or disliking Riverdale has little to no relevance to anything that really matters. If you like it, that’s great! If you don’t like it, that’s okay too! We aren’t obligated to enjoy the same things, and living in a world in which we did sounds like a boring and tired nightmare. Bashing other people won’t change their minds, it won’t make your “taste” seem superior, it just makes you look like an asshole. So please, stop cyber-bullying K.J. Apa and find a show you actually like to watch instead.