Turn up the swing music, take out the poodle skirts, and let’s take Riverdale back to the 1940’s!
As you know, Riverdale is based off the Archie comics which debuted back in 1946. In The CW’s revamp of classic comic, they modernized the show while keeping bits of Easter eggs from the original, most notably Jughead’s crown. But how would the show be if it completely took place back in its original era?
What we would gain
There are several welcoming changes a show in the ’40s and ’50s could give us.
Great costumes and production design
One of the most noticeable changes would be the style of clothing and overall design of the show. With Riverdale’s already showcasing a somewhat stylized look, this change would be a good fit.
An opportunity to show off another view of the 1940s
It’s not often we see a show or movie that takes place in this era that doesn’t involve war. The Archie comics were very much a focus on teenager shenanigans. Having a look at teenager life in a small town with mysterious murders during the ’40s and ’50s would be a cool and unique opportunity that isn’t on television already.
Similar to what Mad Men did, having Riverdale be set in the ’40s and ’50s would shed more light in the era that can showcase the good and the bad. Television during the 1950s were shows like Leave it to Beaver and The Donna Reed Show which illustrated only the idealistic life and not the realistic one.
The music from this era are classic for a reason. How cool would it be to hear classic swing music from Benny Goodman and notable crooners like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby?
Overall be an unique show
You can say what you want about how great Riverdale is, but the truth is it is just another teen drama. Having a teen drama that also takes place in the ’40s would turn the average teen-drama on its head. The average age of the viewers for Riverdale certainly were not even close to being alive during the era, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be well received.
What we would lose
Unfortunately while there are many things to gain from going back in time, there are quite a number of important reasons going back in time wouldn’t be quite as charming.
One of the obvious draw backs would be the less than accepting towards the LGBTQ community, and overall equality towards women and non-white people.
As of right now Riverdale already still needs to work on being more welcoming to the LGBTQ community within the current season, but going back into time would very much be taking huge steps back in progress.
Women also have a powerful role in the show with characters such as Alice Cooper, Hermione Lodge, Betty and Veronica taking on way more than the traditional 1940’s housewife.
Also, notably, non-white characters were very few and far between in the original comics, and in the reality of the time were not treated equally. While the current show is still prominently white, one big change from the comics is Pop, the owner of Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe. It would be interesting to see more of a backstory to his character.
Also to note, Josie and the Pussycats was a comic within the Archie cannon, featuring Josie as a black character, but that didn’t come until the 1960s.
Cell phone and internet use
Riverdale doesn’t rely heavily on text, phone, or internet usage so far in the series but there have been very important instances where it has been used and would be impossible in the 1940s.
For example Jason’s murder in the first season was solved by finding a flash drive of a video of the murder. Without the flash drive or video, the murder likely would be unsolved.
Also, way back in the beginning of the first season, Veronica and Betty have a about 30-second investigation into finding out who Ms. Grundy really was. Even with the internet this plot was a bit unrealistic. In the 1940s it would certainly be much harder to find out her lies true identity.
What wouldn’t change
Riverdale in many ways is still a very classic and simple town so there are a few things that wouldn’t have to change.
Riverdale‘s apparent lack of TV news reports
While thinking about what would be different in the 1940s, 24 hour news reports sprung to mind…except wait. Does Riverdale have a local news station? Back in the ’40s there was this thing called “newspapers” that everyone read and little boys would sell on the street corner yelling out the biggest scandalous news.
As far as we know, Riverdale only has a newspaper. Betty’s mom runs the local paper and although we don’t really see this newspaper, it clearly is a powerful source of media in the town since Alice Cooper is not someone to mess around with. So a switch the 1940s wouldn’t affect the news reports in this small town…but it does beg the question, shouldn’t there be more interest from nearby cities? I mean there is a serial killer on the loose! A women was strangled by a cello’s bow!
Modern murder investigation
It’s also very apparent Riverdale isn’t quite up to speed on murder investigations and I know Riverdale isn’t CSI: but shouldn’t there have been specialists that could come in to take, I don’t know, fingerprints or something?
The 1940’s were decades away from using DNA evidence so Riverdale‘s old-school approach probably wouldn’t hurt the show.
Not to get too sappy, but like the original comics the friendship of the core four would continue to be vital. There wouldn’t be any late night texts but this friendship easily would survive any decade.
As much fun as the style and music would bring to change up the overdone teen-drama, the reality is, 1940s were not good to the LGBTQ community, diversity, or equality. Those are huge things to lose for a show that still is working on some of these elements in their present day setting.
However, Riverdale is a revamp and having a bit of modernized 1940s could be a cool idea. This is television! Why not have Riverdale take place in some alternate reality that takes the good and leave the bad from both eras?
In fact present day Riverdale already borrows some of the classic ’40s Easter eggs from the original comics such as Jughead’s hat, Archie’s leaderhead jersey, Betty’s ponytail, and various side characters.
But…we may have to settle with having throw-back parties and dream sequences to show off the original Archie style.