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NPR Arts & Life

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Riverdale' and Teen Soaps

KJ Apa plays Archie Andrews on the CW's <em>Riverdale</em>.
KJ Apa plays Archie Andrews on the CW's <em>Riverdale</em>.

For decades, Archie comics represented the wholesome, sweet-faced American teenager in none of his or her actual complexity. But reflecting some of the recent changes that have come about in the comics, the CW's new drama Riverdaleplaces the gang at the center of a murder mystery. The show is less about having fun down at the chocolate shoppe and more about who shot whom and which clandestine affair is only a moment away from being discovered.

east coast editor Sarah D. Bunting, also one of the co-founders of Television Without Pity, joins us to talk about whether Riverdalewill scratch that itch you have where Dawson's Creekor Gossip Girlor even Beverly Hills, 90210once were.

And then, we'll talk about the teen soap format generally, in its highbrow and lower-brow formulations, from the hair-color-inverted version of Archie/Betty/Veronica that drove Dawson's Creekin its early days to the problem of placing a boring simp at the center of every show like this. (Sorry, Archie. Sorry not sorry, Dawson.)

As always, we close with what's making us happy this week. Stephen is happy about his latest Oscar movie, Glen is happy about two films he checked out while he was on a break from awards nominees, Sarah is happy about a documentary you can find on TV or streaming, and I am happy about an old original movie and a new, kinda trashy TV show. (Hey, you never know what you might need to have at hand as you manage your mood in these sometimes anxious times.)

Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter: the show, me, Stephen, Glen, Sarah, producer Jessica, and producer emeritus and pal for life Mike.

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