Jan. 30th, 2017

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I have no words about the current madness in the US that others haven't said better, but I can perhaps speak more eloquently about recent TV. [personal profile] teaotter and I tried the new CW show Riverdale, based on the Archie comics, but with a dark brooding sensibility. The premier was surprisingly good and also simply surprising. When was the last time you saw a (well done) reference to Truman Capote's work on any TV drama, but less a teen show on the CW? Also, unsurprisingly for the CW, but a feature I quite like, the plot seems to be moving rapidly along. I have no idea where the show is going or even what it's mostly going to be about, but the first episode was interesting and well done. It was also very surprising in an unexpected way – it felt exceedingly and quite deliberately mid 20th century, from the Truman Capote reference, to the look at feel (which was both definitely modern day and also had touches of the mid 1950s), to one character who was very much the Serious Young Novelist of precisely the 1950s young intellectual author stereotype.

All of this was all clearly done by conscious choice, and the show was trying very hard to get a particular feel and mood, and mostly succeeded. The mid-century feel was also pleasantly and well modernized with the inclusion of a canonical queer character who is openly and cheerfully gay, as well as the female characters being clearly important, treated seriously, and at least a numerous as the male ones.

However, there was also one rather obvious and major downside to the 1950s feel – the mythic/cinematic 1950s being evoked is exceedingly white and while it may include some black characters, it's a milieu largely devoid of any other people of color, and that was sadly also true of the show. There were two black characters with speaking parts, two other black characters who may be important later, and a vast sea of whiteness. Of course, it was also the first episode and there's plenty of opportunity for them to introduce additional characters. Definitely worth looking at, but also not without problems.

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