Thinking of The CW's most well-known TV shows, Riverdale easily comes to mind.
It is one of the most popular teen television shows on The CW and in the general television landscape.
Riverdale Season 1 was a ratings success for the CW, and after five years, every time it is on air, it manages a slot in Twitter's worldwide trends.
The show has made a U-turn from popularity to infamy. It has changed from "hey, this is an exciting and entertaining show" to "oh my God, what an asininely cringe show."
But is this really justified? Does it deserve all the hate from five-word viral tweets which are nothing but ridicule?
Keep an open mind here, and I will tell you how and why Riverdale deserves all the praise.
The point where most viewers go wrong with it and where it starts losing them is when they expect realism from the show when the creators never promised that in the first place. The show is loosely based on Archie Comics; thus, not a word-for-word copy of the same.
The show's plot reads, "Set in the present, the series offers a bold, subversive take on Archie, Betty, Veronica, and their friends exploring the surreality of small-town life, the darkness, and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale's wholesome façade."
Their adaptation of the show didn't bury the lede. The creators said it would be a subversive take on the comics.
It was going to be dark and weird. It wasn't going to feature typical small-town storylines where the most significant thing that happens is a murder every decade or so or someone caught their spouse cheating.
The whole charm of Riverdale is that you can never know what to expect, and that's a good thing. Jason Blossom gets murdered -- you might expect that. Jason Blossom gets murdered by his father -- you didn't expect that did you?
Betty's father is a serial killer -- you might expect it, but you might not expect Betty also to have a serial killer gene. So why the surprise when the whole gang gets superpowers?
The characters of Riverdale are anything if not inspirational. You can always count on them even when they are going through the most arduous periods in their lives. Archie will always show up -- courageously so -- when needed.
Betty will never let the darkness she inherited from her father take over. She rises above the doom spelled for her and does something good with her life.
If they are your comfort characters, these characters will never change fundamentally. That is why post-high school Cheryl sounds like the personification of cringe because deep down, she is still a lost girl who, without her brother, resolves to be mean as a self-preservation mechanism.
Riverdale also was a pioneer in representation. While other popular teen CW shows featured White heterosexual leads, Riverdale went in a different direction, putting Latino characters in front of the narrative.
It is also worth noting that Riverdale ended queer tokenism. Throughout the seasons, Riverdale has given us a wide variety of queer characters.
As a result, we got queer characters we loved and those we hated without questioning whether it was subconscious homophobia at work. One can never easily count or erase the queer characters of Riverdale. That is a good thing.
The show has musicals, for Pete's sake! How many shows boast of having crossed multiple genres and still having musical episodes? Whether they are your cup of tea or not, maybe we can agree that they are a welcome distraction, especially when things get too intense.
Deep in the weirdness and wildness, Riverdale has some vital messages.
I'm talking about courage, friendship, loyalty, sacrifice, and love. It can't iterate enough how and why these values are fundamental for human existence. If you are not going to believe that there's a serial killer gene, believe that courage makes you stand out.
Have we talked about the ships that make us swoon? We can't get enough of the early couples like Betty and Jughead, Kevin and Joaquin to the latest like Betty and Archie, Cheryl and Toni. And Riverdale keeps serving us more and more.
Every season of Riverdale is like a revelation. As the show progresses, the town keeps getting more bizarre, but within all that, it gives us feels.
Every season finale, when the latest threat to the town gets neutralized, the audience is right there with the characters in their celebration and a general feeling of triumph and relief.
Simply put, the show knows how to draw the audience.
It is the show that has blessed us with Lili Reinhart. Even being as an avid fan of the show as I am, I will admit that some characters have been cringe-worthy at times. However, I have found myself being drawn to Betty due to how Lili portrays her.
Sometimes The CW material isn't the best to work with, but she manages to find something in there, latches onto it, and produces beauty. She has the potential to be the Meryl Streep of this generation.
Riverdale is one of the last remaining shows that airs a super-sized 22-episode season. Even if the ratings dropped to cancellation levels, it could still make money for the network in streaming deals.
However, the creators decided to end it at the right time to prevent it from falling into ridiculousness. Many shows never know when the initial charm has worn off, and Riverdale is not one such show.
Ultimately, what one needs to enjoy Riverdale is a change of mindset. Watch it for what it is and not for what it should be.
Do you think Riverdale gets a lot of hate for nothing, or do you think that it is justified?
Let us know in the comments and watch Riverdale online if you need to test our theory.
Denis Kimathi is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He has watched more dramas and comedies than he cares to remember. Catch him on social media obsessing over [excellent] past, current, and upcoming shows or going off about the politics of representation on TV. Follow him on Twitter.