Farewell to Riverdale — and the CW as we know it

Riverdale bid adieu last night, closing the chapter on its wild ride through the tumultuous town filled with charming teenagers, bizarre superpowers, love triangles, and a string of serial killers. The show, loosely based on the Archie Comics characters and led by the creatively chaotic mind of showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, concluded as the CW enters its first fall season under Nexstar Media Group’s ownership, a move set to trim costs by focusing on reality TV, sports, and imported series.

Riverdale — “Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Seven: Goodbye, Riverdale” — Image Number: RVD720c_0203r — Pictured (L – R): Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones and Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper — Photo: Justine Yeung/The CW — © 2023 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

With Riverdale’s end, several other CW originals have been axed post-Nexstar acquisition, leaving Superman & Lois, Walker, All American, and its spin-off, All American: Homecoming, as the network’s remaining original scripted series (returning for shortened seasons in 2024). As the core four—Archie, Betty, Jughead, and Veronica—drove off into the sunset in Archie’s Jalopy, it’s clear that Riverdale’s brand of lavish, sexy, teen genre drama, running off the rails for seven gloriously outlandish seasons, may never find a home again in today’s TV landscape.

The series finale, “Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Seven: Goodbye, Riverdale,” finds the core four bookending their journey as teenagers, despite a two-season time jump into their 20s. Set against a backdrop where the entire town was transported back to the 1950s, the episode offers a nostalgic farewell, particularly through Betty’s eyes. Now 86, she longs to revisit Riverdale one last time, getting a chance to relive her senior year and bid farewell to her beloved hometown.

While Riverdale’s die-hard fans will ultimately judge the finale’s 50s-set conclusion and the fates of their favorite characters, the show’s end marks a nostalgic moment for the TV industry. It signifies the loss of a time when networks embraced quirky, long-running teen dramas unafraid to dive into the bizarre. Riverdale’s departure serves as a reminder of an era when shows like it were allowed to flourish, a stark contrast to today’s streaming-dominated landscape where such shows often meet a premature end. So, goodbye, Riverdale, and farewell to an era where TV dared to be weird and wonderful for years on end.

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