Archie comic books were never quite like this.
The creators of Riverdale, a teen drama premiering at 8 p.m. Thursday on the CW, have re-imagined the eternally peppy teens in a way that robs them of their innocence.
Archie Andrews, the All-American boy, is now sporting six-pack abs and is filled with angst after a summer fling with Miss Grundy, the smoking-hot music teacher.
Betty, the girl next door, and Veronica, the rich girl, conclude a chaste cheerleader tryout routine with a Madonna-and-Britney-style kiss.
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Jughead, the food-loving goofball, is now a sullen loner who’s writing a true-crime story about the death of a classmate.
By the end of the first episode, viewers will learn that classmate Jason Blossom didn’t just die, he was murdered. And according to Jughead (our narrator), on a Tuesday in the middle of fifth period, the “first arrest” will be made.
In short, Riverdale is a surreal and subversive blend of Life With Archie, Dawson’s Creek and Twin Peaks.
To find out more about this crazy concoction, we chatted with one of the cast members. Ashleigh Murray plays Josie McCoy, leader of an all-girl rock trio called the Pussycats.
What’s new, Pussycat?
I couldn’t be more excited that people are finally going to get to see this show. We’ve been working on it for so long. We’ve been in love with the show for six months and dying to share it with everybody.
What was it about the series and about your character that appealed to you?
I’ve always been a huge fan of Archie Comics. When I was a kid, I read them all the time and I watched the cartoons. I loved them all, even the older, early-issue comics that date back to the 1940s. And I especially loved Josie.
Also, I was living in New York, broke as hell, couldn’t even afford to pay rent and ready to take a break from acting when I got the audition. So I decided to put some cat ears on and go for it.
Was it hard or easy to snag the role?
It was a crazy few days. It started with me going into the casting office and doing a scene and them putting me on tape and sending the tape to L.A. Twenty-four hours later, I’m getting a call from my reps saying, “Get your things together. You’re going to L.A. to audition tomorrow.”
So I flew to L.A., didn’t sleep a wink the whole time. I was on top of the world. Showed up to audition and it turned out I went to the wrong lot. But I didn’t let it faze me.
Finally got to the right place and was halfway through my audition song when I forgot the words. I left thinking I wasn’t going to get it. But they progressed me to the network test. By the time I was back home in New York, my reps called and said, “They want to offer you the role.”
I was like, “Get out!” I can’t believe I get to play one of my favorite characters from a comic book.
In the first episode, Josie is aloof and sassy, too focused on her music and career to get involved with the rest of the Riverdale gang. But that won’t last; she will eventually become entangled with the drama. Without giving away anything spoiler-ish, what’s ahead for Josie and the others?
There are so many interesting storylines in the first season. The plot keeps getting wilder and more bizarre throughout the season. People will be surprised once they see where it’s all heading.
Josie at first is definitely focused on her music. But she gets pulled in about halfway through the season. My spotlight episode, which is episode six, is called ‘Pussycat, Kill, Kill.’
That’s all I can say without giving away too much.
- 8 p.m. Thursday
- KDAF/Channel 33