After doing my third (or maybe fourth…) rewatch of Riverdale season 1, I couldn’t help but recognize some serious parallels between it and the beloved teen drama Dawson’s Creek.
Let’s start with the dialogue
So, Dawson’s Creek was beyond well-known for its hyper-realistic psychobabble. The teens that made up Capeside’s under-20 contingent were spitting out phrases and references that definitely didn’t qualify as ‘normal’ by just about any realistic standard, but that elevated dialogue was one of the reasons the show stood out among its competitors. Dawson’s Creek had something new to share with the world, and Riverdale has stepped into fill those same shoes.
I, for one, LOVE the way the Riverdale-ians speak. It reminds us that teenagers aren’t simply hormone-driven crazies out to steal each other’s boyfriends and girlfriends. While the dialogue is hardly the psycho-speak we heard out of Dawson and Joey every episode, it is a heightened level of speaking. Veronica alone uses more references in an episode than just about any Disney Channel show does in its whole run. The dialogue helps to make the series smarter, and a whole hell of a lot more fun to watch.
Take a look at a few of those B-storylines
While there wasn’t a huge murder mystery at the center of Dawson’s Creek, I remember more than a time or two where doing a little investigating was necessary for the Capeside characters. You can count that in the ‘pro’ column.
Throw in the forbidden teacher/student romance plotline and the similarities are starting to pile up. Sure, in Dawson’s Creek it was Pacey doing the romancing, but it’s a noteworthy parallel all the same.
And while it was Joey’s family that was dealing with financial struggles and running their own business, in Riverdale, Archie’s father is the one with self-employed money problems.
Oh, and a parent in prison? I can’t wait to see Veronica and her father interact next season. I wonder if it will look anything like Joey and her father’s reunion.
And how about those characters
Now, I’m going to preface this by saying that of course none of these characters are exactly the same. If they were all cardboard cut outs of previous TV characters from days gone by, we all would have been bored out of our skulls after the first episode. Okay, that being said…
Jughead is the new Pacey
When you think of Pacey Witter, you undoubtedly remember his offbeat sense of humor, his ‘wrong side of the tracks’ self-loathing, and his affinity for the one and only Joey Potter. Jughead is in many ways the same archetype. He knows where he comes from and how people see him. He’s very self-aware, but he also has that self-deprecating sense of humor that made Pacey so relatable. Not to mention his affinity for all things Betty Cooper. The acceptance and support we see with Bughead is reminiscent of the best days of the Pacey/Joey dynamic.
Archie is one dock crying GIF away from being Dawson 2.0
We all loved Dawson, or at least loved to hate him. He had an affinity for trying to always find the bright side, and firmly believed that his creative ambitions would be his ticket out of Capeside one day. Sound familiar? Archie could definitely be channeling the ultimate ’90s teen boy next door — just substitute music for movies and you’ve got yourself one hell of a parallel. When you add in the similarities between Archie and Betty’s friendship and Dawson and Joey’s, well, it’s even easier to see just how alike Archie and Dawson truly are.
Betty has more than a little in common with Ms. Joey Potter
While Betty’s family doesn’t appear to have the money troubles that the Potters did (although, we have barely scratched the surface of Riverdale‘s intra-family dynamics), her friendship with/crush on Archie, dedication to her sister, and love of the truth definitely have us seeing some Joey-like qualities. Joey was always super supportive of her bestie, and Betty has definitely been there for Archie as he discovers his passion for music. As the series progresses, it will be interesting to see if there are more similarities between the two small town ladies, especially regarding Joey’s dedication to escaping Capeside at all costs.
The new girl all the way from NYC? Veronica is totally Jen
When Jen stepped foot in Capeside, she changed everything for Dawson, Pacey, and Joey. She threw a new dynamic into the mix and definitely caused a little trouble. Switch hair colors, and Veronica is totally Jen Lindley for a new decade. Perceived bad girl from NYC turned small town vixen? Check. Looking to turn her bad girl rep into a new and improved version in a small town? Definitely. Only time will tell if Veronica has even more in common with Jen. We’d be shocked if she and Jughead ever made a platonic sex pact, for instance, but not the slightest bit surprised if she takes finding Kevin the perfect boyfriend as her personal project.
So, what does all this mean?
Well, nothing… and everything at the same time. Dawson’s Creek went on to be an incredible show about growing up and dealing with the pressures of having big dreams in a small town. Riverdale has already proven to be intriguing and incredibly watchable with such a successful first season, and hopefully it will continue to find similar success in its subsequent seasons.
Also, Dawson’s Creek included some controversial storylines that definitely helped to shape how its generation saw the world, particularly Jack’s long road to self-acceptance and coming out to everyone he loves. Riverdale could walk that same path and be an important part of a new generation learning about prejudice, representation, and diversity, but only time will tell what Riverdale‘s true legacy will be.