The CW’s “Riverdale” – Season 1 Review (SPOILERS + LONG)

The incest was more surprising than the murder.

Despite so much potential, Riverdale is yet to become the grand teen mystery show that it could be. With so many great shows ending, Riverdale has big boots to fill. But, unfortunately, the incest was more surprising than the murder. Deciding to cement the tone through the dark monologues of Jughead, depicting the show in quite frankly an off-kilter misrepresentation, is probably where I take my biggest issue. While never having read the Archie Comics, it’s my understanding that they’re vast to say the least, from superheroes to horror to romance reprints. It makes sense to want to roll off the back of previous successes, like Pretty Little Liars, but more often than not Riverdale doesn’t ground itself in the murder mystery of Jason Blossom. It’s much more layered than a simple whodunit, which works. There’s heart and chemistry on-screen and well-thought out plotlines – not to mention the cinematography is outstanding. And to keep it fresh and innovating, I understand the necessity of the murder storyline. What I don’t understand is why Riverdale believes itself to be this grandiose noir narrative.

Let’s break it down character by character.

The Great Archiekins:

Archie Andrews was my biggest annoyance at the start of the series. I couldn’t get passed the two dimensions of his character. Why exactly are we supposed to root for Archie? He’s male, straight, white, popular, buff… need I go on? There wasn’t any tangible substance to him, all he had to offer was a pretty face and an overtly sexualised pair of abs (which I definitely appreciate: the change of sexual focus onto a male lead instead of a female one). There just wasn’t anything real about Archie as a teenager that I could relate to, in the slightest. His parents’ divorce was peaceful, his love life is questionable and his jock-musician story line I had already gotten enough of from High School Musical. Seriously. Episode 9 where Cheryl’s family begins taking a liking to Archie and offer him more opportunities was straight up Sharpay and Troy in HSM2. I began to ignore him, mostly, until he took his shirt off or left the scene. The only moment in all 13 episodes that made me actually like Archie was in the finale, when he made his hand bleed punching the ice to get to Cheryl. In that moment I saw more than the resident chick magnet of Riverdale. But, of course, it was brushed off in a later scene to highlight his impeccable goodness and selflessness. Even his inappropriate sexual relationship with Ms. Grundy, which sheds some light on Archie’s personal insecurities on his own songwriting capabilities, was harpooned away quicker than she was. They could have easily explored the depth of his depracating self-worth and his clear issue with validation (and authority figures, to a degree) but none of that is actually seen and his romantic indecision is shoehorned into the plot while making sure at least once per episode we’re reminded of his body or his looks.

Betty Dye-Your-Damn-Roots Cooper:

The overachieving literal embodiment of a girl-next-door (there was no subtlety in the way they wrote that: her window looks into Archie’s) with an ambiguous mental illness and controlling parents. Unlike Archie, I didn’t dislike Betty but I also didn’t love her. There’s more to her than Archie, that’s for sure, and her character arc does address a lot about her undiscovered self. She grows a spine, standing up to her mother, and even grows to be more confident in her writing, her romance and herself. I did find it interesting that The Fair Lady and The Dark Lady were subverted, revealing Betty (The Fair Lady) to be much darker than resigned mean girl Veronica (The Dark Lady). In the first episode, her scene with Cheryl, being passive in her cheerleading uniform, contrasts wildly to her scene in the last episode where she chastises the people of Riverdale for not realising how much the town has changed. Her most compelling quality as a character, for me, is the whole “Dark Betty” exploration. I understand why the writers chose to keep it ambiguous and not discern everything in the first season (it was obvious that it would garner enough attention and fans to get a second) but I hope they continue to delve deeper into her psyche. Mental illness is still a subject of taboo with a lot of stigma attached to it, seeing the typical Betty Cooper girl next door figure admit to being mentally ill, and then seeking out help for it would normalise the topic to a lot of impressionable viewers and finally connote the message that mental illness is something we shouldn’t be ashamed of.

Hispanic Caroline Channing Veronica Lodge

The embodiment of social awareness in the form of a seventeen-year-old. Sharp-tongued with masterful one-liner delivery, it’s not hard to imagine where Camila Mendes’ career will take her. The most interesting scenes with Veronica had to be the ones where she interacted with Betty – it was made clear that their friendship would be a driving force of the show, enforcing positive female friendships where they don’t fight for Archie’s attention. And while I not only condone but support this representation, there were extremely equivocal moments that left me slightly stooped. She is definitely the character with the most feminist undertones: She owns her sexuality and femininity without it defining her personality entirely and is simultaneously strong yet vulnerable. But the writers making her socially aware seemed to be used as an excuse to be… less than progressive. For example, she jokes about failing the Bechdel test when she brings up her relationship with Archie to Betty but I can’t remember the last conversation the two of them had that wasn’t driven by their respective love interests. Self-awareness is not an excuse to be able to avoid criticism for doing the exact things you’re making fun of. For the most part, Veronica’s subplot is related to her morality and guilt of being a Lodge and what her father has done in the past to land him in jail. But as progressive a character as Veronica is, I can’t help feel robbed of the full potential of having a character like Veronica be better in a sense. She calls Kevin her “best gay”, she kisses Betty for shock value at cheerleading tryouts (which was marketed way too much in trailers to not be considered queerbaiting), and while she tackles slut-shaming by getting revenge on Chuck it ultimately opens up a whole new can of worms about race. In the comics, Chuck was a sensitive artist but on the show he’s a sleazeball who lies about his sexual conquests and is taken down by Betty’s article. Despite not wanting to, I couldn’t help but see the authority a blonde woman has over an African-American man take precedence. Similarly, The Pussycats are “saved” by Archie with some words of advice and he continuously takes over their gigs with his better songs. Archie even dates Valerie, a Pussycats member, and yet we know nothing about Valerie. Veronica being a WOC and a main character is great, but it seems to come at the expense of her being the only real main character that’s not white. Veronica has depth and is a better role model than past feminist icon characters on teen shows but is arguably only one in the promised multiple fleshed-out non-white characters of the diverse cast.

Not Asexual Jughead Jones:

The casting of Cole Sprouse as Jughead instead of Ryan Potter irks me. Asian-American representation in the media is harder to spot than a leprechaun and Sprouse’s wooden acting only added to my frustrations as I continued to watch him play the part of Juggie. For the most part, these actors don’t get to decide what their characters do. Thus, I cannot hold them accountable for not bringing compelling characters to life when the source material is so sparsely thin. The creative decision to remove Jughead’s asexuality from the story will always agitate and confuse me but even from a logical POV it takes away rather than adds layers to his story arc. On a show with young attractive people, you needs ships (relationships). It’s simple enough: ships=attention. Fans will post on social media and talk about their endgame ships and get the show more attention. But this only goes to show the necessity of an asexual character. If they really had to, they could have made Jughead have a relationship with Betty that’s not sexual (in the comics he’s aromantic as well). A non-sexual relationship hasn’t been portrayed on modern day television since Sheldon and Amy had coitus on The Big Bang Theory and taking away Jughead’s asexuality only distances it from being the progressive awe-inspiring show it so desperately wants to be. Not only that, but the show’s obvious focus on Jughead (more so because of Cole Sprouse than anything) and their insistence on making him likeable does the opposite for me. Sure, he’s sympathetic and humanised so the audience understands him but the writers’ take on his character development consists solely on Betty changing or “fixing” him. Coming from a broken home, Jughead doesn’t need a girlfriend. He needs a stable environment with healthy parental figures. Taking away his opportunity to move and be adopted shouldn’t be a dramatic montage to save him before he’s separated from his friends. That’s not what Riverdale should be telling their younger viewers. Realistically, Betty can’t be the sole light of his life and the fact that he wished to only be with her on his birthday is already telling of the co-dependency that’s bound to occur because of Jughead’s lack of stable relationships. His and Archie’s relationship is one that I cannot fault. Mostly because all they do is sit in Archie’s room, eat pizza, play video games and talk about girls. Which is, for the most part, what teenage boys do and this sense of normalcy makes Jughead less annoying… until they throw a scene of Betty calling Jughead’s alcoholic father to surprise him for his birthday to prove how thoughtful she is and make Jughead look unreasonable during their argument when F.P. does nothing out of the ordinary. I would have appreciated it more if the Bughead relationship had been allowed to blossom into a detective-styled friendship, one where boys and girls can finally be shown to be platonic without sexual undertones, instead of throwing them together for the sake of shipping drama.

Cheryl Bombshell Blossom

Cheryl was actually one of the more nuanced characters. Often times, she was able to be the show’s self-critic. I was expecting her to be welcomed into the fold by the end of the season, especially with how her story ended, like Jughead was. We see Cheryl’s perfect life crumble behind the walls she has built, which is a reoccurring theme throughout the show with heavily featured lineage and family. Cheryl’s especially is under a magnifying glass since her brother’s murder. Her, at times, abusive family life leads her to attempt to reach out to the core four, sans Jughead, on multiple occasions only to be neglected and lash out. We see this mostly with Archie and Veronica, who each have a roller coaster of a relationship with Cheryl respectively. She has public meltdowns, anxiety attacks and is cracking under the pressure of being the perfect Blossom child now that there’s only one left. Veronica is there for her until the story needs to add frenemy banter and then she’s back to hating Cheryl for what her parents did to her father. Cheryl doesn’t seem to be in control of many things. Even her Vixen cheerleaders are masterminded by her mother and so when she burns the Thornhill Mansion down, after attempting to kill herself at Sweet Water River, she finally takes action and stops asking for help all together. No one bothered to look beneath the surface of her life, and even when Veronica did all that came from it was her realising she’s lucky for having Hermione and not Mrs. Blossom as a mother. In theory, she and Jughead should have had some kind of reconciliation together. Veronica attempts to connect with Jughead when his father goes to jail, but the sentiment is hollow and short-lived. Cheryl’s support system died when her brother did. She could learn a thing or two about self-sustenance and -preservation from Jughead, but the only times she even addresses him is when she slaps him or uses a homeless slur toward him. Upon burning down her house, it’s a physical manifestation of her being free of the Blossom family (completely ignoring her mother wailing behind her as she stares at the flames engulfing the house) and in a way embracing being independent. She was forced to be by herself when Jason died but taking action against the house where she lived, where her brother, his murderer and their mother lived, depicts a gruelling decision of liberty that probably won’t be explored next season. Cheryl will be shoehorned as the occasional villainess of the show, again, or the damsel in distress and continue to never be allowed to be part of the group despite it probably being beneficial for the drama of the show.

Kevin Keller:

It’s clear the writers don’t know what to do with Kevin. He’s in some very important scenes (like the discovery of Clifford Blossom as Jason’s killer) and the next minute he’s suspiciously missing. The writers attempted to tie him up to the Jason Blossom murder, with Southside Snake Joaquin as his boyfriend and even having regular updates from his Sheriff father to give to the gang. There were many times I suspected him to be the killer because of this very reason. He had one foot in, one foot out. He seemed important but didn’t get the promotional posters that Josie got, despite being in more episodes than her. As for Jason, I had theories about Ms. Grundy coming back and Polly’s babies not actually being his only to be trivially disappointed upon the anti-climactic resolution of Clifford having shot his son. I kept waiting for the twist to come, that Kevin had staged the whole thing. Having a gay character as a villain is difficult. It can be challenging to navigate, but when done well it can actually help to normalise homosexuality and people’s understanding that gays, lesbians, bisexual people, trans people are people and everyone is different. Revenge managed to use an exhausted trope of a gay guy falling for a straight guy with Tyler and Daniel and turn it into his villainous motivation but contrasted it with positive representation later on with Nolan’s exploration of his bisexuality. I wouldn’t have been angry if Kevin was the killer as it would have added to his character and completely thrown the dynamics with the other characters for a loop, something I was expecting to happen but since Clifford didn’t really have a tangible relationship with many characters, the reveal fell flat.

At this point I don’t trust the Riverdale writers to take any risk that could potentially pay-off later. Even with Fred Andrews being shot in the finale, I have no doubt that he’ll make a full recovery for season two and allow the Fred-Hermione-Hiram love triangle to come to fruition. I’m only this cynical because I was promised a show that does not live up to all of its statements. We cannot keep sitting idly by, passively consuming media and pretending it doesn’t have an effect on society. Employing a diverse cast is one thing. Not using a third of those actors in the actual episodes is another. Claiming to be the epitome of progressive teen shows only to have an underwhelming representation of anything we haven’t already seen, and expecting to be praised for it, is bullshit for lack of another word. With a fanbase as big as it already is, wanting more from a show that also wants to be more isn’t a lot to ask.

A Letter To My Stalker

I thought ours was a star-crossed romance.

My sweet,

The fluctuation of our relationship was more tumultuous than the first spacecraft to ever land on the moon. Due to a mutual fear of being lonely, we became fast friends. Your world enveloped mine. Before I knew it, I was living, breathing, thinking you every microsecond of my meagre existence. How it started was nothing like it ended. I thought ours was a star-crossed romance. Boy, have I never been more wrong.

When we first met, you didn’t have many friends. At least, it didn’t appear that way from the outside looking in. I saw you, by yourself, and thought immediately that I didn’t have to be alone anymore. So I brushed off the alarm bells, the red flags, and enjoyed the casual laughter of acquaintances at school. You were quirky, not crazy, and I understood that because I was the same. Others didn’t see it because others didn’t know what I knew. The allure was textbook: You were broken and I wanted to fix you. That’s probably what it ultimately comes down to. I wanted to pick up your tattered jigsaw pieces and put together a whole new puzzle. One of us. Together. But I didn’t challenge you, I emulated you. Too fearful that you would leave. So you ended up changing me.

And we played our games of pretend together. The cat and mouse chase that became something far more revoltingly sinister than I would realise. Obsession. Lust. Greed. I said no. No no no. But you weren’t used to hearing that, I suppose. You chalked up my suspicions, my concerns, my hesitance as something to joke about the next day. After I saw you. Lurking behind me. A shadow. A devil. A friend.

You weren’t always there, physically. But you peeled the layers of my brain and burrowed into the tissue, nestling in to call my head home. And you fucked with my head so many times, I was jarred from the reality of everyday school to this fantastical enticing of a dysfunctional toxic relationship. It’s funny. Relationship. That’s what we had, like it or not. We did everything couples did, essentially. Whether it was clandestine touches, passing secret notes, bickering. But when I fought back, be it with my words or my fists, something always came back to enforce your domain over me. Shackled to the guilt of breaking your trust, I let you break me. And now you want back in.

No.

I will never be scared of you. You’ve left seeds of mistrust that continue to be fruitful but I will never give you the power to hurt me again. Not anymore. No matter the consequences. Giving into you was one of the worse decisions I have ever made but enough time has passed for me to wake up to what you emotionally, mentally and physically put me through and know that I deserve better. I have a voice that won’t be crushed by you, or any man, ever.

The Importance Of Sex Education

As a young boy researching sex and finding anal bleaching and buttplugs, the Internet only led me down a more confusion-inducing phallic-shaped rabbit hole.

Having been taught in religious schools for the most part of my academic career, I’ve never actually been on the receiving end of a sex education lesson. Not only is this worrisome, as I’m now about to be 17 years old, it’s also eye-opening. Sex has often been a subject matter of taboo within Catholicism. The hush hush culture of it all has had its significant backlash and yet there continues to be an uncomfortably grimacing silence on it. This could lead to the question: How does one openly discuss sex without wanting to shrivel up into a ball of inflamed embarrassment?

Since abstinence has proven to not work, (when has denying a teenager something ever ensured they don’t do it?) the first steps would be to talk about contraception. I never so much got even a talk about condoms – how to use them, where to get them. Thank goodness for the Internet. But perhaps that’s where the issue stems. With so much information available to everyone, at all ages, at all times, people (adults) have begun to think the sharing of such information is redundant. Well, I can assure you that’s not the case. As a young boy researching sex and finding anal bleaching and buttplugs, the Internet only led me down a more confusion-inducing phallic-shaped rabbit hole. I’m pretty sure my parents were relying on the National Curriculum or the bravery of a fifteen-year-old with a concerning search history to ask them. Neither worked in their favour. Hence, the aforementioned Internet.

But is it perhaps possible to learn too much too fast? With no one controlling my information intake, I quickly became aware of lube, slut-shaming, polyamory, STDs, the spectrum of gender and sexuality, and a whole load of other sex+ related topics. Of course I’m still learning today, just recently I became aware of full-body orgasms, but the more I found out the more I was eager to learn. There was an odd epiphanial moment where I realised I needed to learn more about LGBTQ+ stuff and safe sex… which led me back into a 180 degree spin to the Internet, since that was my only real source.

I’m not discrediting the Internet as a good tool for learning, I owe it my full pseudo-sex education to this day. What I’m proposing is a wider conversation on sex, its stigma and everything we need to learn to be safe in contemporary society. More people are having premarital sex than waiting nowadays, but the standard of education is not meeting this changed norm. In the age of so much over-saturation of social media narcissism with perfect bodies and nude selfies, somehow sex ed. and health is still protested against being taught in schools. Here’s to the importance of better sex, safer sex and (in mine and many other LGBTQ+ people’s cases) queerer sex education where we can talk about these matters and not be forced to feel shameful. After all, knowledge is power and I’d much rather know about something before hand than have to find my way along down the road. *cough cough douching*

A Letter To My Former Best Friend

After seven years friends are said to become family. It’s been twelve.
But now, I’m not so sure.

My sweet,

For twelve years we have had the most complex of relationships. We were childhood rivals, sweethearts, frenemies. We shared ugly words, we touched tongues and lips, we made amicable chitchat. Adolescence hasn’t helped to unblur the distinctions of what category we fall under, to this day. It’s difficult to attempt to unspool the history that’s laid out between us – miles and miles of history carved by our past. That’s probably why it has taken me this long to write this. In the past I’ve sat down to ready pages and ready pens, only to stand up to unused pages and unused pens.

We’ve drifted. Grown apart. Gone separate ways. Let’s not sugar coat it. It’s the truth. And I hardly doubt you care much. You wouldn’t have let it happen if you did. But the same can be argued for me. The relationship was never on equal footing. I needed you more than you needed me. You relied on that imbalance of power to keep me around. Begging for your attention, your time.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom before he showed up. And I really only have myself to blame for inviting him into our lives. The deal was made and I held up my end. Like I expected you to. But you didn’t because you couldn’t. It’s not in you to be selfless. That may be harsh but it’s what this past decade has taught me. There was a prize awaiting you when I completed my end of our bargain. Him. I talked to him for you but you didn’t do the same for me. And once he was as infatuated with you as I had been, the oscillation into madness burned quicker and brighter than a Roman candle.

One by one he replaced the people in your life. Your acquaintances, your family members, your friends. Me. I shed tears in your room, worried it would happen months before it became serious, and you still allowed him to envelop your life. Of course I lashed out. He had stolen away the one person I always wanted to be around. Your time was now his time and I confused jealousy over you with romantic feelings for him and I destroyed one of the most special moments in your life. For that, I’m sorry. I’m also deeply sorry for trying to steal him away from you. In front of you, behind your back, anytime and anyplace I could try. But he never wavered. And I’m glad. Because you’re happy. Happier now than you ever were with me. I can’t continue to stand in the way of that. Realising it, I stopped. I tried to just be his friend and continue to be your best friend. But it was so clear to me, as it had been with everyone else in your life, that no one would stand in the way of you two. Who was I to try?

What I didn’t expect was for you to let me go without a fight. You reached out once, twice, and that was it. A friendship spanning a decade and two years in the dirt. But I guess it’s clear how much I put into the relationship. You still have my clothes, my presents, my memories. I’m not sure what I have left of you, or what I even want from you anymore. Friendship? I have friends I can truly count on now. One call and they’re here for me. I’m not sure I ever even had you like you had me. I suppose only time, as it continues to carve out our future, will tell what happens to us. To you. And to me.

SONY Drops Dr. Luke As Legal Battle With Kesha Continues

#FreeKesha

It appears that Mr. Gottwald is no longer the CEO of Kemosabe Records, the subsidiary of Sony that released Kesha’s two studio albums. The Hollywood Reporter has stated new court documents have surfaced, reading “Lukasz Gottwald is no longer the CEO of Kemosabe Records and does not have authority to act on its behalf.”

It’s been three years since Kesha has accused Dr. Luke, real name Lukasz Gottwald, of physically, mentally and sexually abusing her over the course of ten years. The official lawsuit stated, “Dr. Luke abused Ms. Sebert in order to destroy her self-confidence, self-image, and self-worth so that he could maintain complete control over her life and career.”

In February 2016, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich denied Kesha’s request for preliminary injunction to release her from her contract with Kemosabe Records. Ms. Kornreich is married to Ed Kornreich, a lawyer who is a partner in the legal firm Proskauer Rose who represent Sony. The judge said the contract was “heavily negotiated and typical for the industry”. The verdict spurred the #FreeKesha online trending movement, with stars Adele and Lady Gaga publicly supporting Kesha. Taylor Swift even donated a large sum to aid in the legal battle.

Kesha said, “This case has never been about a renegotiation of my record contract — it was never about getting a bigger, or a better, deal. This is about being free from my abuser. I would be willing to work with Sony if they do the right thing and break all ties that bind me to my abuser.”

After continuing to dismiss all of Kesha’s abuse claims, the judge refused to amend the original case in March of this year and it’s unclear what will happen in the ongoing case with all the counter-claims and appeals that have occured. Sony has, in addition, deleted the Dr. Luke page on their website and further distanced themselves from the accused abuser. While this action is long-awaited on Sony’s part, it could in fact hurt Kesha’s cause. No longer having Sony as a go-between makes it more difficult for the singer and it also gives merit to the defamation claims Dr. Luke has issued citing Kesha’s allegations against him as hurting his career.

Kesha has said Dr. Luke has retained a “suffocating control” over her life, including body-shaming revealed through emails and his insistence on making her image solely a party girl for her brand. “To this day, I’ve never released a single that’s a true ballad, and I feel like those are the songs that balance out the perception of you, because you can be a fun girl. You can go and have a crazy night out, but you also, as a human being, have vulnerable emotions. You have love.” She has reportedly recorded over 70 new songs since the lawsuit, unable to release them, but hopes to do so sometime this year.

#FreeKesha.

A Letter To My First Ex-Boyfriend

I wrote him my first love letter and a week after he broke up with me,
my first hate letter.

My Sweet,

I hope you choke when you tell your next squeeze how much you love his smile, his way with words and his perfect cock. Picking at my scabs until you left them bleeding and gaping wide open in the scorching sun, you lied to me. Something about you disillusioned me. Your net was cast and I was trapped in the squirming enclosure of your wretched spell.

Pouring out these spiteful words now has made me realise how awful you were to me. Truly, truly fucking awful. You made me believe I was something valuable, a diamond in the rough that sparked more than just your casual interest. Thus, you wandered out of your introverted shell and dared to go to the lapping waters that brought us together. I wasted no time leaping across the sand into your arms, but not once did you clue me in to your hesitance. You let me be blind and misguided.

And you still don’t know me. You didn’t bother getting to know me, disinterested in pushing past your romanticised concept of obtaining a boyfriend; owning someone and their complete undivided attention. Until you got bored. You scratched at my skin and tugged at my flesh but you did not dare cradle my bones. You created a deception, a falsehood of trust and reliability and tenderness that you decided had expired long ago.

I hate you for making me believe I could be your first.

Not once did you even for the utmost split of split seconds consider me your first love. I was your first kiss. That was it. Bashfully, you told me you didn’t want to think about sleeping with anyone but me: I wish that could have been the truth. I quake to my very core thinking you will compare this heap of ashes to your romantic forthcomings, and just the mere suggestion of anyone else tasting the skin I tasted makes me boil with rage. Why do I still want someone who doesn’t want me?

It wasn’t working. More time to yourself. Spending too much time on your phone and not reading or going out as often on as many walks alone. Getting too close to someone so quickly. Not ready. Awkward and uncomfortable.

You let me believe so many things that now have fruitlessly wilted. And the worst of all is that I miss you, I still want you and not being with you shreds my insides like a starved lion shreds a carcass. Tendons slit and nerves askew! You’ve carved me up and laid me out for dinner, pretty boy, now I hope you choke on my mutilated bones.

Sweet/Vicious: A Show Directly Criticising Rape Culture In American Colleges

Jules: I know how to do things most people don’t. There is stuff happening out there and no one is doing anything about it. People are just getting away with awful things. I’m trying to make some of that right.

Ophelia: That’s the plot of Batman.

Having already axed female-led comedies Loosely Exactly Nicole and Mary + Jane, it seems as if the crime-fighting duo of Ophelia and Jules is next. Jennifer Kaytin Robinson’s Sweet/Vicious is the kind of earnest portrayal of rape culture in colleges that deserves a second season. However, due to ratings and MTV (understandably) wanting to make maximum profit from their scripted series it looks as if that might not be the case. Teen Wolf, one of MTV’s biggest scripted successes, is finishing its last season this year and The Shannara Chronicles and Scream have both been renewed for a respective second and third season. But if there might be a place for Sweet/Vicious on the network for a sophomore run, here’s why you should watch it.

The series chronicles Jules, a sorority girl who is raped one drunken night by her best friend’s boyfriend. In realising that if she reports the sexual assault it won’t be taken seriously, she takes matters into her own hands as a vigilante. Ophelia, a weed enthusiast and hacker, crosses paths with her and the two begin an unlikely comradeship. The show tackles rape culture on American campuses, sexual assault committed by females (although not female-on-male rape or male-on-male rape) and dealing with being a survivor. Jules feels alive when she becomes the duo vigilante team Sweet/Vicious with Ophelia, but otherwise feels empty since her traumatic experience.

It’s an honest, unflinching portrayal of something that has scarcely been shown on a mainstream network like MTV. While it acknowledges that the law may not always be on the victim’s side, due to victim-blaming and, in Jules’ case, an athlete committing the crime – it does encourage seeking help. Group therapy didn’t work for Jules but it certainly helps a lot of victims to be able to talk about their experiences in a comfortable space without stigmatising the topic.

One critic described the show as “Arrow” meets “Geek”. Sweet/Vicious features a bisexual lead character, a WOC as the head of a sorority and men who understand and comfort . It does not hate on men or use sexual assault as an insensitive plotline to accumulate attention. The scripts are embedded with humour and heart, blended seamlessly by the chemistry of the lead actresses Eliza Bennett and Taylor Dearden. There’s a certain satisfaction in watching their takedowns when justice has been denied by bigotry and the finale brings me back to watching Emily VanCamp on Revenge. If Sweet/Vicious manages to convince MTV to have a second run, I hope Jules and Ophelia come back with bigger, badder and better takedowns. There’s definitely strong potential for the series to deliver an equally- if not even grander – captivating season.