Amidst a TV lineup stacked with comic book spinoffs, The CW will unveil its latest page-to-screen adaption when Riverdale premieres on Thursday, Jan. 26. The teen soap puts a darker, grittier spin on the wholesome Archie comics, following a group of high school students as they navigate the aftermath of a student's tragic murder. With all the secrets and seduction the series seems to promise, viewers may be wondering if it's rooted in any truth. So, is Riverdale a real town?
Alas, fans won't be privy to any juicy real-world details, as Riverdale is entirely fiction. But that doesn't rule out any IRL inspiration. According to The New York Times, cartoonist Bob Montana imagined the characters in Midwestern suburbia, because publisher John Goldwater had fond memories of his time in Hiawatha, Kansas, an idyllic-looking city in the Northeast corner of the state.
At its broadest, though, Riverdale is very much an everytown. In the comics, its location is nondescript. It has four seasons, a vast range of terrain, and its high school colors are blue and gold — arguably one of the most popular team color schemes. It's likely that was intentional, allowing readers to envision themselves alongside Archie and his pals no matter where they came from.
According to IMDB, the show was largely filmed in Canada, but it doesn't look that far off from my own childhood home in a small, southwestern Michigan town. There was precisely one main street that ran from the tourist-abundant beaches to the backwood neighborhoods, where you'd see everything from thriving restaurants and quaint local shops to sprawling vineyards and wide open roads.
Riverdale's drama, however, is more in line with Rosewood, Pennsylvania, the mystery-fueled city at the heart of Pretty Little Liars — which, coincidentally, also revolves around a student's murder (or in that case, lack thereof). Like PLL, the friends that drive Riverdale transcend the turmoil that surrounds them, soldiering through danger and deceit as a strong, united family. As executive-producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa recently told Vulture:
"The best thing that I could say is that, when I was a kid and I read Archies, I so wanted to be friends with them ... I was a little bit of a misfit, and it seemed like everyone in Riverdale, even if they were mean to each other, they still loved each other ... You're never going to walk into Riverdale High and be afraid that Columbine is going to happen. There's something that's the platonic ideal of high school that I think people gravitate towards. These kids will always be there for each other, no matter what.”
So, no, Riverdale isn't a real town, but that's sort of the point. It's meant to be an escape for viewers, and damn if it doesn't look like an entertaining one.