Riverdale Season 1 - The New, Edgy Gossip Girl

From Veronica Lodge to Blair Waldorf, from Archie Andrews to Nate Archibald and Jughead Jones to a rough-around-the-edges version of Dan Humphrey, Riverdale is exactly what Gossip Girl junkies like me have been waiting for. Gossip Girl finished in December 2012, with what I have to admit was an extremely rushed and slightly unsatisfying end to possibly the most addictive television series ever. I have re-watched the episodes enough to be able to quote almost every line and tell you scene by scene what's going to happen. As I'm sure is now pretty obvious, I was in need of a fun and sexy TV drama, littered with young attractive characters and tinged by shadows of sinister drama that would fill the void created by the end of my favourite television series to date. Well, CW answered my unspoken prayers and one lucky evening a couple of months ago, I stumbled across the first episode and have been tuning in to watch every week since without fail.

Riverdale is set in the town that gives the series its name. It's small and somewhat close knit in the sense that everybody either knows everybody or knows of everybody. The first episode appeals to young adult audiences immediately, with its hint of romance, a school dance, a new girl and a plot seed that leaves viewers like me eager to keep watching. KJ Apa is undoubtedly the reason that many of us kept our eyes on the screen in the first place, but I'd be lying if I said he was the only reason I continued watching up until the season's finale. Although the plot seemed superficial during some episodes throughout the season, towards the end everything suddenly seemed to pull tightly together and the drama, volume and atmosphere of the show was amped all the way up.

The season as a whole establishes itself as a kind of teen detective drama, where four friends (Betty, Jughead, Archie and new girl Veronica Lodge) assign themselves the duty of discovering who killed Jason Blossom. There are a lot of characters and a lot of different plot trails to follow, so I'll recap as concisely as I possibly can. And just so this is crystal clear, I know that the show is based on some comic book, but I've never read a comic book in my life and couldn't tell you anything about that side of it!

The Blossoms are the ridiculously rich, enviously beautiful family who live at Thornhill in Riverdale. Thornhill is their mansion, of course and it has a kind of alluring gothic appeal to it. They have a well respected family business selling maple syrup. Its inhabitants consist of Cheryl and her parents Penelope and Clifford. When the series begins, Cheryl's brother Jason is already dead. The opening scene is deliberately set up as incestuous, with the two Blossom twins Jason and Cheryl standing by the edge of Sweetwater River together as if they are boyfriend and girlfriend. At least that's what I thought anyway....

Until we later find out that they are twins and that Jason was actually seeing Betty's older sister Polly before he disappeared and was found dead. Oh and Polly has been mysteriously banished by her parents, Alice and Hal Cooper - which we later find out is because they wanted to keep her "safe" from the evil hands of the Blossoms, who they didn't trust being around their pregnant daughter. Yep. Polly was carrying Jason's child when she was banished to The Sisters of Quiet Mercy - a strange institution full of nuns that keep Polly locked away.

Meanwhile, hot guy Archie is busy kissing every girl that meets his eye, including his music teacher, and nobody really cares because he's... well, he's hot. While his father is busy cosying up to Hermione Lodge - new girl Veronica's mum. Which seems sweet but is actually rather controversial because Hermione has a husband, Hiram Lodge, who is currently in jail awaiting trial for several counts of fraud and embezzlement. And if I remember correctly, Fred Andrews is currently in the process of divorcing his wife - so is also still married. But then again, Hermione and Fred were childhood sweethearts so there is one redeeming quality to their canoodling. However Hermione is actually still doing Hiram's dirty business for him on the side, with The Serpents. So maybe not so redeeming after all...

Who are The Serpents? None other than the beautiful and endearing Jughead Jones' father FP's (yes his name is FP) rogue crew. They sell weed and hang out on bikes and have a rebellious edge to them. If anything goes wrong in Riverdale, then the incompetent sherrif and his team just assume that it was at the hands of The Serpents.

So that's pretty much all the basic, important information you need to know. Although there are some extremely superficial moments in Riverdale - and I mean, eye rolling, cringe-worthy, unbelievable scenes - it does come together overall as a highly addictive show. I got into the habit of waiting for the episodes to be released every Friday and then downloading them to watch on the coach journeys I make back and forth for work. There's a seriously seductive quality to it and it just makes you need to watch more. Even though there were moments when I found myself rolling my eyes or sighing at the sheer unbelievable aspects of the plot, I still came back for more. And we have to excuse it for now, because seasons one and two of Gossip Girl are sprinkled with seriously cringe moments too!

By the end of season one, we've discovered a few key things:

  • Cheryl Blossom is not just the high school mean girl. She's in desperate need of love and attention because she's so neglected at home. There's a ghostly quality to her movements as she drifts around her incredibly large house, hearing whisperings of the secrets her parents are keeping, but constantly having the door slammed in her face about everything. The only place she can really establish any authority is at school, so that's exactly what she does.

  • Betty's sister Polly wasn't just exiled because she was pregnant. As Hal reveals, the Coopers are actually also Blossoms. It was a feud between brothers that forced one of them to change their name, thus creating the Coopers. So, when Polly and Jason got together and Polly fell pregnant with Jason's baby, it was actually an incestuous high school relationship - not just the innocent mistake of young, childhood sweethearts who were planning to run away together. Disgusted by this, Hal wanted Polly to have an abortion. Oh and the Blossoms didn't actually care about the incest - as Penelope said, the child would have been a pure Blossom and they therefore had no reason to despise it.

  • Almost everyone's parents went to school together. FP overheard an argument between Betty's parents Hal and Alice, when they were younger, about the fact that Alice was pregnant. With a baby boy who she was forced to give up for adoption because Hal convinced her to - an act she considers to be the worst mistake of her life.

  • Veronica's mission to incriminate her dad in every bad going on in Riverdale was just a childish game at finding meaning for grown up things she didn't really understand yet. Clifford Blossom framed Hiram Lodge to make it seem like he was involved in Jason's murder, when he actually wasn't. The only thing he did do, was hire The Serpents to decrease the value of the land at the Twilight Drive-In, so that his company Lodge Industries (like Bass industries) could purchase it at a lower price. Oh and he did of course, send those guys to trash the Andrews Construction site because he figured out his wife was getting busy with her childhood flame!

  • Hermione becoming a shareholder at Fred Andrews' construction business was a bad idea and now she wants to try and buy him out of the business because Hiram is coming home. However Fred refused her deal.

  • Childhood sweethearts Fred Andrews and Hermione Lodge will now see their children becoming childhood sweethearts, as Veronica and Archie form a "soulmate" romance that I don't believe will last because Archie has wandering eyes. Other note worthy romances are Betty and Jughead who I just adore!

  • The gunshot that Archie heard the night of Jason Blossom's death, while he was out in the woods with his music teacher Miss Grundy (I know!) came from Clifford Blossom - who arranged for his own son to be tortured by one of The Serpents and then shot his son Jason himself.

  • Why? Because the so called maple syrup business was just a huge cover up for the real family trade - cocaine. And when Jason found out what his father was really trading, he threatened to expose him and his father shot him in the head. Like the true control freak Clifford Blossom was shown to be, in a tape where we get to see him watching his son being tortured before he pulls the trigger, Clifford then hangs himself to avoid being caught. 

  • Cheryl, after trying to commit suicide by drowning herself in the lake and then being rescued by Archie and the gang, finally settles for setting fire to Thornhill. However, I've read that only half of it actually gets burned down...

  • Jughead's situation is intervened in by a social worker. As his father is now in jail, facing something like 20 years for having helped aid the clean up of Jason Blossom's murder, Jughead has no family. He can no longer stay with the Andrews because Fred got a DUI and has no money, so has been deemed unsuitable. He is therefore sent away to a foster family, but comes back when Betty goes to find him. In one of the last scenes, Betty and Jughead are back at FP's trailer making out, when they get a knock on the door from The Serpents who tell Jughead that they have his back and hand him a Serpents jacket - much to Betty's obvious dismay.

  • Someone, most likely men working for Hiram, walks into Pop's and shoots Fred Andrews. I can't think of it being anyone but Hiram, who obviously knows about the little romance that went on between Fred and his wife and who might also be aggravated by the fact that Fred refused Hermione's deal to buy him out of the company. It could potentially also be something to do with Clifford Blossom's men, who may be angry that Archie was so involved in the exposure of Clifford as Jason's killer, but that theory isn't strong.

Either way, we have a new murder mystery on our hands for season two! There are a lot of things I'd like to see in the following season. Betty joining The Serpents with Jughead is one of them. I've always shipped Bughead, but when Jug put that Serpents jacket on he suddenly got like a hundred times hotter - must be down to the rogue, bad boy appeal. I'd like to see Archie develop a lot more as a character. We've seen how the hot guy can get hot girls - handfuls of them - now I'd like to see something else. Are we going to find out who Betty's long lost brother is? And what will happen to Polly's baby? Also, a Hiram and Fred showdown would be good - if Fred recovers that is, or will he die?

Ed Sheeran Live at The O2

You might remember from the post I did in collaboration with Eventbrite that I mentioned I was going to my first ever concert this year, to see Ed Sheeran on his Divide tour live at The O2. When my housemate said that she was going to try and get tickets to see him, I knew that there was no way I was going to decline going. Thank God she managed to get them and as soon as she did, I gave her the money right away so that I could go. Tickets cost me £80 altogether, plus £6.50 for parking (split between four of us) which is a lot of money.  A few of my friends were shocked at the price I paid, but it was probably the best way I've ever chosen to spend £86.50 in my life. I'm the kind of person who impulse buys almost everything. If I see an item of clothing in a shop, I have to have it. Once it's in my mind, I can't stop thinking about it and I genuinely have to have it. Even if I don't have the money for it at that moment in time, I will find a way to get it as soon as possible. Which is usually where all of my money goes. To be honest if it's not on clothes, then it goes on food. Oops!

We went to see Ed Sheeran on Tuesday 2nd May, which was his second night at The O2. The time came around so quickly! I can still remember being sat in my 9am creative writing seminar when my housemate was messaging the group about being in the queue for tickets. Months later and I'm sat at home, having already been to his concert and wishing I could go back.

The set list for the night was as follows:

Castle on the Hill
The A Team
Don't / New Man
Galway Girl
How Would You Feel
Feeling Good / I See Fire
Nancy Mulligan
Thinking Out Loud

Shape of You
You Need Me, I Don't Need You

Now I love Ed Sheeran's music and I have done for absolutely years. I remember hearing 'You Need Me, I Don't Need You' and rushing to tell my sister about the crazy talented guitarist and singer who just performed the most engaging song I'd heard in a long time. From then, I listened to his first album and fell in love with almost every song. I got my guitar out and learned how to play 'The A Team', 'Lego House' and then 'Give Me Love' - the three songs that made me realise how much I loved his music. I am honestly not claiming to be good at the guitar. I can literally play the four easiest chords (G, D, Em, C) plus Am, A7, Dm, Cadd9 and E. And if any barre chords are ever involved, I just whack a capo on so that I can continue playing songs the easy way!

Back then, I feel like Ed Sheeran's music spoke to a specific crowd. People like me who like listening to mellow songs with great instrumentation and heartfelt lyrics. Then his second album had songs like 'Sing' and 'Don't' that are a little bit more upbeat and expanded his fan base even more. Although I'm a fan of all of his music, it's the slower, more chilled out songs that I really enjoy listening to. So when I listened to his most recent album, it really wasn't love at first listen. There are a few songs like 'Eraser' that I just don't really love. 'Happier', 'Supermarket Flowers', 'Perfect' and 'Hearts Don't Break Around Here' are my favourites. So I was happy to see that 'Barcelona' and 'Bibia Be Ye Ye' weren't on the set list for the night, as those aren't really my kind of vibe.

Ed Sheeran had two supporting acts that night. The first, an Irish musician called Ryan McMullan was really good to watch. If you like people like James Bay and Passenger, then you'll probably love him. As soon as he started playing, I searched for him on Spotify and added him to one of my playlists. If you want to listen to one of his songs, then I would suggest 'You Don't Dance' or 'A Winter's Coat' - both of which I saw him perform live. The second supporting act was Anne Marie. Honestly, I do not want to make this post negative so I'm just going to say that I waited very impatiently for her to get off the stage and leave it at that. 

What really got me super excited to see Ed Sheeran, was the fact that he was going to play literally one of my favourite songs ever - 'Photograph'. I'm not saying favourite song as in favourite Ed Sheeran song here, no. I'm saying one of my favourite songs of all time, literally. If you know me well enough, you'll know that Coldplay's 'Magic' is honestly one of the only songs I can listen to about a hundred times and still have the same reaction to as well as never get bored of. Photograph is another and Tom Odell's 'Supposed To Be' is the third. These three songs are just incredible to me, so when you get to see one of your favourite artists playing one of your favourite songs of all time - well there is just nothing like it. As soon as I heard the intro for 'Photograph' I started to cry. It was honestly the best moment of my life so far and that is a big statement to make, I know. 

I was so incredibly happy to see some of his older songs on the set list. Hearing 'Bloodstream' live was amazing and obviously when 'The A Team' was played, I just felt like I had been thrown back in time to singing along with my guitar and my sister when I first started listening to him. I would have loved to hear him play 'I'm A Mess' - but still definitely not complaining about the songs he did play! 

The truth is that the whole concert just exceeded all of my expectations. I knew I was going to love it, but I didn't realise just how much I was going to love it. Ed Sheeran came across as such a normal person. He walked out onto the stage very casually with his guitar and started playing 'Castle on the Hill' and the crowd literally went crazy. If that was a Beyonce concert, there would have been a hugely elaborate and dramatic entrance. With Ed Sheeran, everything was just so simple and raw. Just one man on stage with his guitar commanding an audience of thousands of people. I think that's amazing. 

My highlights of the night, apart from Photograph (obviously) was Ed's mashup of 'Feeling Good' and 'I See Fire' which was genuinely sensational. Then for the encore when he performed Shape of You followed by 'You Need Me, I Don't Need You', he created the perfect energy to end the night on a high.

I am slightly disappointed that I have never gone to see Ed Sheeran in the past. If I had seen him when he first went on tour or even on his Multiply tour then I'm sure I would have been even more excited than I was on Tuesday night, because more of my favourite songs would have been played. Songs like 'Gold Rush', 'Autumn Leaves', 'I'm A Mess' and 'Tenerife Sea'. But regardless, I had an absolutely fantastic night and it was so worth the money. I would honestly pay double or triple that price (if I had the money) to go and see him again. He's a great performer, incredibly talented and it's difficult to dislike anything he does. Even the songs he performed that I'm not as keen on, like Nancy Mulligan and Eraser were fantastic to watch. So he really did not disappoint. 

I thought I would blog this and give a review of his concert because it was just too good of an experience to not talk about. Tickets for Ed Sheeran sell out super fast, but if you ever get the opportunity to see him, then I would honestly encourage you to take it if you can, regardless of the price. 

Outfit Details (from my instagram post on the right!):
Skirt - Topshop
Jacket - Zara
Top - New Look
Choker - Primark
Earrings - Primark
Shoes - Converse