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Riverdale and Representation (Contains Small Spoilers)

Riverdale is a TV show based on the Archie Comic series. This show does a better job than most by showing people from various backgrounds who have a variety of sexualities. While the show does have actors of color, it still has a primarily white cast. The show is about many high school student's trying to navigate surviving in a town that seems to throw every obstacle possible at them. While Riverdale can be somewhat cringe-worthy at times, I’ve always enjoyed the show. I’d like to take a deeper analysis into the characters and why I think the representation in the show makes it worth watching.

One of the main characters is Veronica Lodge. She is a Latina woman who comes from a wealthy background, but her father falls into trouble, resulting in him going to prison. We get to see the perspective of the fall from upper-class to lower-class then all around again as her family’s financial status shifts throughout the seasons. Veronica and her mother have to navigate providing for themselves while the father is away. Through this family, we also see holidays and other aspects of Veronica’s culture and heritage.

Kevin Keller is a character whose father is a police officer and mother is away in the military. We see this dynamic effect Kevin's life. He misses his mother, and assumptions are made about Kevin because his father is a police officer. Kevin is a gay high school student who dates a variety of characters. His character goes past the usual plot device of being the funny gay best friend. It shows the viewers the struggle of coming out, dating in the LGBTQ+ community, dating when your partner wants to remain straight-passing, dealing with parents in the military, dealing with cheating parents, divorcing parents, parents dating again after a divorce, parents getting remarried, and getting step-siblings. Kevin’s character deals with many ups and downs and provides valuable representation for many drastic life experiences. The show has multiple LGBTQ+ couples and tackles bringing light to the trauma of conversion camps.

Jughead and his family can teach us about classism, addiction, and stereotypes. Jughead's father struggles with alcohol addiction at the beginning of the show, and we learn that his wife left him as a result of that addiction and took their daughter with them. Jughead stayed with his father but eventually moved out and became homeless. Being homeless seemed to be the better option for Jughead than staying with his father while he was battling his addiction. As a result of the addiction, the father is unable to keep a job. He is a member of the gang: Southside Serpents, and we see the result of stereotypes in the mistreatment of the Southside Serpents. Through Jughead's family, we get to see the impact of addiction and a family surviving through hard times. Addiction is a disease, and Jughead's dad, FP Jones, has us all rooting for his health and success.

This is just a TV show, and it's not going to be perfect in its representation and portrayals of actual people in these scenarios. I do believe that socialization is extremely important. The Merrian-Webster dictionary defines socialization as the process by which a human being beginning at infancy acquires the habits, beliefs, and accumulated knowledge of society through education and training for adult status. This means that if a child goes through life seeing only one type of people or a negative representation of that kind of people, they will develop opinions and bias about that group. It's important to show accurate, respectful, and diverse representations in our media. I think Riverdale makes strides to attempt to do just that.

 

Grace Thomas

Coastal Carolina '21

Grace Kelli Thomas is a senior Forensic Psychology major with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. She enjoys reading, painting, and helping others. Her goals in life are to be a counselor for at-risk youth or on a college campus and eventually a college professor. She also hopes to participate in activism and be an author.
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