CHOCKLIT SHOPPE NOIR
Anew TV serial premiering this week promises a reincarnation of the American teenagers a generation of Indian children loved. But will we love them still?
Archie Andrews and his ‘gang’ have a lot to answer for to a certain generation of Indians. The eternal American teenager who began life in the 1940s somehow became a ‘youth icon’ for comic-addicted desi kids, particularly in the import-substitution decades of the 1960s and 70s. There’s an argument to be made that Archie was ultimately responsible for the economic liberalisation of the 1990s, and the transformation of Indian culture that accompanied it. You know: pizzas, burgers, milkshakes, dating…
But the perennially preppy adolescent didn’t age well and fell behind in the various tides of consumerism and new media that swept more recent generations of Indian kids. A shrinking audience in the comic’s home market has seen various attempts to rebrush the brand with more reality and diversity including new gay and Indian characters but apparently to little avail. With a star cast that includes K.J. Apa (Archie Andrews), Molly Ringwald (Mary Andrews), Luke Perry (Fred Andrews), Camila Mendes (Veronica Lodge) and Olivia Ryan Stern as Tina
Patel (the ‘Indian Veronica’), Riverdale might change all that. The serial is being talked up as a ‘subversive’ noirish, sexy and dark take on the hitherto vanilla world of Archie and Co. David Lynch’s legendarily spooky 1990 series Twin
Peaks has been invoked as an influence. As it happens, that series is being revived this year and will release in May. And just to add to the woowoo: Mädchen Amick of Twin Peaks plays Betty’s mom in Riverdale, Alice Cooper. (Riverdale premiers on Colors Infinity on January 27, 7 pm)