Things kids love about Riverdale that adults don't get

Whether you're a Riverdale addict or you've never seen an episode, it's impossible to deny that the series has really captured the zeitgeist. Following the adventures of Archie Comics' most famous protagonist, Archie Andrews, Riverdale has become a big hit, in part, because it refuses to conform to just one genre, instead perfectly blurring the lines among teen dramas, horror comedies, and detective thrillers. The fact that the show has a killer soundtrack, chic retro costumes, and some of the most awesome cinematography around only adds to its popularity. We suspect Riverdale favorites Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica are going to be around for a long time to come.

As Riverdale's main characters are all in high school right now, it makes sense that the show appeals to a young audience. And while there are plenty of things for mature viewers to enjoy — such as the impeccable casting of the Riverdale parents, featuring a slew of '90s heartthrob actors like Luke Perry (Beverly Hills, 90210) and Skeet Ulrich (Scream) — inevitably, there are some aspects of the show which kids love that adults don't really get.

The fact that Archie is the lead character

Buzzfeed's July 2018 article listing reasons why Archie Andrews is "literally the worst" sums up the issue of the show's lead character pretty well. Played by KJ Apa, with his hair dyed Archie's iconic shade of red, the well-meaning boy-next-door to good girl Betty Cooper doesn't always make the best choices in life. In fact, some of the things he does (like hooking up with pretty much everyone at school, including one of the teachers, and committing illegal deeds to impress girlfriend Veronica Lodge's father) can be just plain infuriating, especially considering his personality can feel rather flat at times.

But there's a lot that kids love about the sometimes boring, often exasperating Archie — such as his rock hard abs and perfect hair. Younger fans also care about whether Archie is with Betty, Veronica, or someone new altogether. A TV love triangle is never a mistake, and the romantic friction between the cast keeps the audience wanting more. The series is Archie's journey, and grown-ups are just overthinking it if they can't get on board with that.

Jughead's inspiring Tumblr-like blog posts

Cole Sprouse's Jughead Jones narrates every episode of Riverdale, and in many ways, the writer is the show's moral compass, analyzing and overseeing the town's dark deeds as they happen. Regularly playing detective alongside girlfriend Betty Cooper, Jughead isn't afraid to put himself in the way of danger if it means he might uncover a crime or solve a mystery. Basically, he will do anything for a story and has a relentless passion for uncovering the truth.

While Polygon describes Jughead as "an individual, a self-proclaimed 'edgy' teen" — something that might prompt grown-ups to roll their eyes — that's exactly what kids love about him! The excerpts of his writing, which open every episode, set the tone and tell the audience what they can expect from the gang each week. Basically, Jughead's prose is the Tumblr update of most people's dreams, and it's also the perfect excuse to keep hearing Sprouse's dulcet tones. Jughead's writing connects him to the world around him, making him infinitely more relatable to the show's audience and inspiring the next generation of writers in the process.

The immersiveness of the comic book world

Waiting an entire week for a new episode of Riverdale can feel like torture, especially when the gang is trying to solve the town's latest creepy murder mystery, but the story doesn't have to end when the credits roll for fans because the comics the series is based on are spawning multiple spin-offs and taking the characters in unexpected directions (such as in Jughead: The Hunger when the character turns into a werewolf). The darker direction of Archie Comics is all thanks to writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who also created Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and the forthcoming Katy Keene, which is set to star Ashleigh Murray's Josie, of Riverdale's Josie and the Pussycats fame.

The fact that the story doesn't stop at the end of each episode is a big win for kids that love Riverdale. The world can be completely immersive if a fan so desires, continuing in multiple spin-offs, graphic novels, and a plethora of back issues. Grown-ups might miss the straight-laced Archie Comics of the past, but kids are A-OK with Archie's latest incarnation, and the potential witchcraft in Riverdale's future. With multiple spin-offs and crossovers in the works, the world of Riverdale is only growing, and that's a great thing.

Jughead's iconic whoopee cap, which you can totally buy

If a parent or guardian has ever criticized your clothing choices, then you're likely to empathize with Jughead's unusual hat. Uproxx muses, "the real mystery is why Jughead Jones is, in the 21st century, still wearing that whoopee cap," referring to the character's unmistakable style. Anyone who's bought a replica from Hot Topic will tell you why — because Jughead is the literal greatest, and his individual style is what helps him stand out from the crowd.

In fact, it's Jughead's refusal to conform to the supposed norm which makes him all the more relatable. From joining the Southside Serpents, a gang of which his father has long been a member, to living in the drive-in movie theater while he's homeless, Jughead has always been a staunch individual and survivor with a recognizable style to match. Without his iconic hat, Jughead would blend into the crowd, and that just wouldn't work. Like a suit of armor, Jug's whoopee cap is essential to his success. Plus, it gives kids everywhere the excuse to wear an unusual beanie hat and feel no shame about it.

The less-than-terrifying resident gang

Adults might not think much of the Southside Serpents, which started out as an adult biker gang, but have quickly evolved into a group of highschoolers with matching tattoos and leather jackets. Essentially, the group is a PG-13 version of an actual gang, which is evidenced by their college-like hazing rituals (which, no joke, include babysitting a dog), to the snake logo on each of their jackets which is reminiscent of Taylor Swift's Reputation album artwork. But, that's exactly why kids love them.

While members of the Southside Serpents have been known to get involved in acts of violence, as the series has progressed they've proven to be more moral than most of the parents in town. The gang's regular activities are more likely to see them organizing a sit-in to protest a school closure than committing heinous crimes. But while they might be tame, they've got a lot of heart — something which appeals to younger fans of the show. As actor Cole Sprouse, who plays Jughead, said of the Serpents in an interview with Vulture, "They're a group of people that have each others' backs and who sing and dance and snap in unison." And what could possibly be better than that?

The surprising and dividing musical episodes

With the inclusion of Josie and the Pussycats, it was inevitable that Riverdale would feature music, but it was unclear just how much. From Archie's dream of becoming a singer-songwriter in New York, to Veronica's solo performances at her speakeasy La Bonne Nuit, music is constantly integrated into Riverdale, but not everyone's a fan. For instance, Grazia conceded that Riverdale's "Carrie: The Musical" episode was "Not As Cringe As It Sounds," but the publication was apparently prepared to hate it, and so were a lot of grown-ups.

Meanwhile, kids can't get enough of the musical numbers, which often have a lot in common with the mash-ups from Glee but with an actual edge. At their best, Riverdale's musical episodes bring an added dimension to the show's characters and prove just how multi-faceted all of the actors are. The plot is also often advanced by its songs, and with the cast set to take on Heathers: The Musical next, fans of musical theater are in for a real treat.

Does everyone like it when characters randomly break into song? Probably not, but Riverdale has never played it safe, and that's exactly why kids love it.

The elaborate fan theories and online community

If you're in the school of thought that Riverdale features too many murder mysteries, then the show is not for you. Many of Riverdale's younger viewers actually live for the elaborate fan theories that can be found online because it lets fans live within the Archie Comics universe while they wait for the next episode. From the online community fan theories create, to the opportunity to create fresh fan fiction based upon them, the many mysteries of the town of Riverdale are a constant talking point.

Whether or not grown-ups care about the real identity of the Gargoyle King is beside the point. The show continually keeps viewers guessing, giving them a crucial reason to tune in week after week and to talk about the show for hours on end. Taking to the internet to theorize what might happen next is part of Riverdale's excitement, and kids understand that better than anyone.

The many, many ships

Whether you think Archie should be with Veronica or Betty, or you can't get over the moment Veronica kissed Jughead, Riverdale isn't afraid to pair up a plethora of random couplings. Now that the show has been renewed for a fourth season, it's even more likely that viewers will get to see some unexpected relationships, with the possibility of brand new love interests joining the series to create havoc for the current couples. For instance, the fact that One Tree Hill's Chad Michael Murray is joining Riverdale this season suggests that the fledgling hook-up between Alice (Betty's mom) and FP (Jughead's dad) is about to hit a speed-bump.

If you've let out the longest sigh just thinking about the multiple partner swaps that have already taken place on the show, then you're maybe missing the point. Riverdale's many ships play into the very fan fiction that young fans are writing. "Archie and Betty or Archie and Veronica?" might just be this generation's "Joey and Dawson or Joey and Pacey?" — and that's a pretty special thing to behold

Teenagers acting like adults

Collider notes that Riverdale's teenage characters talk like adults: "There's still a very strong resistance to allow the characters to actually be high schoolers. Instead, Riverdale creates a world of adult-acting teens and teen-acting parents that feels like old-school CW, but in all of the wrong ways." But has everyone really forgotten the fast-talking, old-acting shows of the past like Dawson's Creek and Gilmore Girls in which '90s legends delivered page-long sentences without taking a breath?

In many ways, criticism of the language the teen characters use feels like an underestimation of the young adults watching the show. After all, why shouldn't Jughead reference his literary heroes while penning his memoir, and why can't Veronica make oodles of retro references whenever she speaks? Riverdale is as much about the way its characters talk, as it is about the mysteries they're trying to solve. If that involves a little creative license along the way, then so be it.

The unexpected disguises and superhero outfits

From Cheryl Blossom's red hood, to Dark Betty's webcam wig, the teen characters on Riverdale are exploring their personalities, and they're not afraid if others know it. While actress Lili Reinhart may have admitted she's not a big Dark Betty fan to People saying, "I hate that wig, I hate it. It's just uncomfortable," when the characters don costumes, the storyline is transformed. And it also gives fans the perfect excuse for cosplay, which is almost always a great decision.

The costumes the characters wear in Riverdale also prove that each of us is allowed to be complicated, surprising, diverse, and a consummate individual. It's totally okay to mix up your style if it helps you to feel more confident — whether that's by wearing a striking new wig, or trying out a brighter lip color. Plus, if Cheryl's red riding hood and bow and arrow are anything to go by, the show is slowly but surely moving into superhero territory, which is more than a little exciting. New episodes can't come soon enough.

It's time for everyone to stop sleeping on Riverdale

There are so many reasons to love Riverdale, and the younger audience understands better than anyone that the show has been creating some serious magic since day one. From its flawless casting, to the unpredictable story lines, Riverdale isn't afraid to take risks or kill characters if it keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. It's also worth noting that, criticisms aside, the series truly seems to have found its footing in Season 3 by submerging the audience in Gryphons and Gargoyles. As the show's characters unravel the game's mysteries, fans have been drawn even deeper into the town's secrets, and the suggestion that magic and mysticism exists in Riverdale, alongside murder, makes the show even more addictive.

Moving forward, viewers have even more to look forward to now that spin-off Katy Keene is on the way, and sister show Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is going strong on Netflix. It's time to get on board with Archie Andrews and his gang of besties before you miss any more of the drama.