So this is unexpected: Greg Berlanti—whose current hobby is turning comics books into TV shows like Arrow and The Flash—is developing a new drama for Fox based on Archie Andrews and the gang. Yup, that Archie Andrews. And this is crazy, but it’s quite possible that it could turn out pretty great.
According to Deadline, the series is called Riverdale, and will feature the extended family of Archie Comics characters—from Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and Moose, to relatively new additions like Kevin Kellar, all the way to Josie and the Pussycats. Taking place in the present day, Riverdale will offer “a bold, subversive” take on the cast, “exploring the surreality of small-town life…the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome façade.”
Here’s why that’s awesome: Archie Comics has secretly become one of the most interesting and daring comic book publishers in the industry, churning out ideas that seem patently insane but in fact yield astonishingly great comics. Like, there is no reason why “Archie, but with zombies,” should work, and yet Afterlife with Archie is a fantastic suspense comic. Similarly, a Sabrina reboot set in the 60s—this month’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1—is a genuinely disturbing horror story. And then there’s Life With Archie, which is a ridiculous and daring bit of storytelling that ended this summer with the death of Archie Andrews.
Why bring all this up? Because Archie’s Chief Creative Officer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, (who also writes Afterlife and Sabrina), is writing the pilot. Aguirre-Sacasa gets Archie, and just how flexible and universal Riverdale can be—all you really need is a few core tenets. The love triangle, the everyman, and the community. That’s it. Remember those Archie digests? Remember how weird they would get? Imagine Riverdale being a teen drama, but where anything can happen. Sabrina can show up, and it’s like Buffy. Josie and the Pussycats come by, and Riverdale becomes a supercharged girl-power rock anthem of a show for a week or two. And that doesn’t even get to Kevin Kellar—a character whose introduction made waves for being openly gay and having a key story arc in Life With Archie that showed him becoming a politician who builds a platform on gun control.
Archie Comics, in other words, is not messing around. Hopefully, Riverdale doesn’t either. At the very least, the bar is really, really, low.