I hate the direction Riverdale is going – and here’s why

Luke Perry, from left, Marisol Nichols, and Mark Consuelos participate in the Riverdale panel on Day 4 of Comic-Con International on Sunday, July 22, 2018, in San Diego. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Luke Perry, from left, Marisol Nichols, and Mark Consuelos participate in the “Riverdale” panel on Day 4 of Comic-Con International on Sunday, July 22, 2018, in San Diego. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Riverdale used to be one of my favorite shows on television. And now, it makes me sick to my stomach.

The show was originally advertised as a modern adaption of the Archie Comics. It’s not like we needed another melodramatic teen drama, but Riverdale actually stood out against the rest. Yes, it might have been soapy and cliche at times, however the likeable characters and the allure of darkness is what enthralled me. I eagerly started waiting by my TV at 7:55 PM each Wednesday, excited to see what The CW had created for me.

The first season is usually the best, no doubt, and Riverdale was no exception. It brought in the perfect amount of mystery, while staying true to its roots and core themes. I really, really loved it.

With season 2, it strayed a little from its true essence and moved into new territories. While this allowed for some needed growth and change, I couldn’t shake the feeling that a lot of the plot lines, such as the Black Hood, were there purely for shock value.

I hate when shows do that. Don’t they understand that true fans just want a put-together, coherent, quality episode?

The premiere of season 3 was, in my opinion, abominable. With the exception of a few Bughead and Varchie moments, the episode was lost in an array of lousy plotlines. Archie proved he was a terrible decision maker, Alice and Polly completely flew off the deep end with their “farm” (AKA a cult), and Penny Peabody is back to wreak havoc on the Northside of town. It’s a shame.

All this aside, the main issue I have with Riverdale is the introduction of the “gargoyle king.” It originally seems to be a boss in a board game similar to Dungeons and Dragons. Apart from looking creepy, I thought it was a harmless figment of Dilton’s imagination.

It’s not.

Near the end of the first episode, Jughead finds Dilton and Ben involved in some kind of dangerous ritual. I won’t go into detail, because hopefully the readers of this article have already seen the episode. It also makes me extremely uncomfortable.

In the second episode, we get a clearer idea of what this gargoyle king is about. Dilton has some kind of secret underground bunker where he came to worship this monster, filled to the brim with a myriad of different poisons.

Also, did I mention that Dilton actually died from the ritual in the woods? Ben luckily survived, but not for long. When the investigative duo Betty and Jughead came to see him (the only saving grace of the show), he delivered a speech about how Dilton “ascended” to the king’s level and how he’d like to ascend too.

In a world full of hate, do we really need a show romanticizing teen suicide?

Teenagers taking their own lives has become unfortunately more common. And although a lot of positive steps are being taken to help get those who are struggling the help they need; things like Riverdale are moving us backwards.

The sad part is, Riverdale creators know exactly what they’re doing. It’s such a popular show – they know their teen demographic. If people know they have a platform like that, why not use it to spread messages of compassion and healing?

Two words: shock value.

I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll mention it again. These days, it’s all about trying to become bigger and better. I suppose after having a family murder and a sociopathic mass-killer, Riverdale concluded that the only way to surprise their audience was teen suicide. Because then, it becomes a “mystery” that needs to be solved, a central plot point to keep people watching.

It isn’t okay. Teens these days are easily susceptible to persuasion, whether it be peer pressure or messages online. By attempting to use a serious, dangerous topic to keep people watching, Riverdale is actively spreading harmful and downright unacceptable messages to anyone who views it.

Another thing they lack is a trigger warning. I certainly didn’t expect such a graphic depiction of this “ritual”  during my supposedly light-hearted 8:00 teen melodrama. In that moment, all I could think about were the people who’ve been personally impacted by self-harm and the pain they must have been feeling. Riverdale owes their audience a proper warning. Once again, they know their demographic and that means they know exactly what they’re selling and how to sell it.

This show has turned from a fun, Wednesday night event to a broadcast of harmful messages and ideals. I’m extremely disappointed, and will not be returning to the show in the future.