A sneak peek of Riverdale's newest seasonBrianEPaterson/TWITTER

Aside from the obvious disappointments that plagued 2020, there were some similarly dissatisfying show arcs that graced our television screens and streaming accounts. A prime example of this is season four of the hit CW show, Riverdale.

Known for being one of the CW’s latest successful comic book adaptations, Riverdale has become a household name in the teen drama space. It arrived on our screens in 2017 at a time when many iconic teen dramas that we all know and love such as Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries were coming to an end. Riverdale seemed to be the breath of fresh air that many teen drama lovers like myself had been waiting for. Written and adapted by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the show had the perfect concoction of elements to appeal to its target audience. It relied on age-old teen drama tropes that kept us coming back for more every season: from the Gilmore Girls-style town with iconic hangout spots to an intense love triangle reminiscent of the days of Dawson’s Creek. To put it quite simply, Riverdale was in the optimum position to flourish and sit comfortably among the great teen drama giants that came before it.

“Riverdale was in the optimum position to flourish and sit comfortably among the great teen drama giants that came before it. ”

However, rather like 2020, season four of Riverdale did not in any way live up to the potential that it so clearly possessed. It is no surprise, then, that Riverdale-ridiculing tweets and memes have been intensifying. While there are many things to criticise, I will point out the main issues. First, the plot. I am all for shows steering away from the traditional ‘problem-then-solution’ formula and experimenting with unique styles of storytelling. However, I cannot help but feel as though this season went on a journey with too many storylines and subplots that simply did not lead anywhere. There was Jughead’s fake death, Cheryl and Veronia’s rum business, and even a pointless tickle fetish subplot. The characters also remained unrelatable and, dare I say, annoying with the lack of character growth from season one.

For example, the protagonist himself, Archie Andrews, has stayed consistently unremarkable. From jumping romantically between nearly all of the female characters in season one to cheating on his long-term girlfriend Veronica in the season four finale without feeling guilty, it seems as though the character has not grown. To add fuel to the fire, we all know the facepalm-worthy dialogue of Archie telling his jail mates that they haven’t known “the triumphs and defeats, the epic highs and lows of high school football”. On top of all this, the haphazardly placed storylines throughout the season did not even culminate in a satisfying end. Instead, crucial running time was wasted on plots that were not beneficial to the overall arc (yes, I’m rolling my eyes at the incessant musical breaks, even though I thoroughly enjoyed their take on Carrie back in season two). The charm of the show has simply been lost in the mess of the writers overdoing it.

“The charm of the show has simply been lost in the mess of the writers overdoing it.”

Having said this, I am adamantly optimistic that Riverdale will be restored to its former season one glory. Similar to the hope that I am placing in 2021, I am more than open to a renewal and revival of the show. Luckily for us, a time jump will be deployed in season five, allowing the writers to hopefully leave the mishaps of the past behind. The 2003 CW show, One Tree Hill (arguably one of the best teen dramas of the last decade) did something similar in its fifth season which allowed its writers to breathe new life into the show and for audiences to enjoy the characters and storylines in fresh ways. While nothing can compare to One Tree Hill with its epic early 2000s soundtracks featuring artists like Fall Out Boy, Sheryl Crow and teen heartthrob Chad Michael Murray, I am hopeful for change in season five of Riverdale. Here are two things that I hope the time jump will offer:

The cast of One Tree HillManda624/TWITTER

Mature characters who have sustained character development

By surging these beloved characters forward into the future, I am sure that we will be able to see them in a new light. More pertinently, I expect that a move away from the high school setting will make the characters more multifaceted, relatable and enjoyable to watch. For example, how will an adult Betty deal with the internal insecurities and issues that are always bubbling at the surface? Will Archie ever grow up and make sensible decisions that actually benefit not only himself, but others around him?

Realistic plotlines

Whilst the ‘Gargoyle King’ and ‘Jingle Jangle’ plotlines were somewhat humorous, the rollercoaster ride of too many unrealistic storylines turning into loose ends has become tiresome. Ideally, more mature characters will lead to more attainable plot goals which is what made Riverdale so addicting in its season one premiere.

After 2020, we are all placing a lot of pressure on 2021 to be a better year. I sincerely believe that this, too, can happen for Riverdale. After the catastrophe of season four, perhaps season five can return the show to its earlier charms, and make it once again deserving of its reputation as a teen drama favourite.


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