Riverdale: The Blackboard Jungle

It's 2018 and Riverdale is back and better than ever? Maybe not, but it's still good. 

As the town returns to normalcy after its holiday episode, Jughead reminds us that Riverdale might just be a place where bad stuff happens. I know what you're thinking. What are the alternatives? Unwavering hospitality? Nope. The list of other potentials ends there. Basically the most decent and reasonable person in Riverdale is Pop.

Moving on from that unnecessary tangent, The Blackboard Jungle shows us that life after the Black Hood's unveiling isn't as peaceful as it was hoped to be.

The Lodges are in cahoots with Mayor McCoy to get her to shut down Southside High in order to build, I'm assuming, shiny new condos. My details are fuzzy. 

Veronica is now, sort of, in on the family business of stirring up class tensions in unassuming rural towns and capitalizing on people's political ambitions. Her parents warn her of the merging of Southside and Riverdale high schools and encourage her to do her best to be diplomatic and ease the worries of her classmates about the big announcement.

What follows is a series of confused and surprised reactions to Principal Weatherbee's loudspeaker announcement, Reggie's (and the other out of focus players of the basketball team) being the best of them all.


After brushing off Kevin's suggestion that she's nervous about the school merge because it means the return of Jughead (possibly Bughead?!), Betty goes home and finds an unexpected guest. It's a no longer pregnant Polly. She had the twins and was intent on not having anyone in her family learn the news. She also has no plans to return to Riverdale (smart) but will instead stay at her cult/farm (not as smart). This also lays the ground for Betty trying to find a solution to a problem that is yet to present itself.

Betty knows her mom will be upset about the Polly news; she went from two daughters and one (sort of) son to just one daughter, so how about reaching out to that long lost brother?

Charles (Chic) Cooper as it turns out was never adopted and after having to leave the convent orphanage hybrid that is the Sisters of Silent Mercy, now lives in Riverdale's (very own!) youth hostel. Suffice to say that life hasn't been great for him and he is not very fond of the Coopers. 

On the same fateful day that Archie decides to dust off his old guitar case to dedicate more time to his music he is literally stopped in his tracks by an "FBI" agent. The agency caught a whiff (sorry?) of the Lodge's sketchy business dealings and want Archie to be their man on the inside. 


Archie is hesitant at first but takes the agent's contact information anyway -- hey, maybe he can get a summer internship out of him -- and decides that a dinner at the Lodge residence will give him an insight into whether or not he should go through with this.


In an expected unfolding of events, it does. The FBI wanted to get details on the Lodge's relationship with Nick St. Clair and on the "accident" that almost killed him. Before going to the Lodge's, Archie meets with Cheryl to ask her about what exactly happened with Nick. It's then that he learns that Nick tried to hurt Veronica as well, giving Hiram a clear motive to hurt the St. Clair family and Nick specifically. Hiram and Hermione also do an albeit humorous, but unconvincing job of communicating that they had nothing to do with Nick St. Clair's accident.

Later that night, Archie lies in bed and has a shirtless realization that helping the FBI is the right thing to do. What a sentence. This can't go without saying that he has gives "Dark Archie" his time in the limelight when he visits Nick St. Clair at boarding school to give him a stern talking to.

Jughead and his affable Serpent sidekicks start their first day of school at Riverdale High and are met with a welcome committee consisting of Veronica, Archie, and yeah that's it.

But because this is Riverdale, the drama is high and near. Cheryl and Reggie (mostly Reggie) are scheming for the sake of scheming. They get Principal Weatherbee on board with banning the Serpents from wearing their leather jackets for the sake of school unity. Jughead is not pleased with this profiling.   

He's only temporarily convinced to surrender to the pressure to opt for a more mainstream choice of outerwear for when he's at school. Even Toni and Sweet Pea don't want to get suspended! But nevertheless, he persists and has to face the consequences.

FP is working at Pop's again (I'm unsure of how the progression of this played out) which means that there are designated hours during which he can't wear his Serpent jacket. Long story short Jughead should suck it up. 


Betty and her mom's adventure to the youth hostel, to no one's surprise, went awry. But I guess Betty's "my sibling is in danger" senses have been re-awakened by her meeting her brother and arrives at the hostel to find Chic at the perfect time to save him from a strange man knifing his arm. So Betty pepper sprays the dude, gets Chic out of there, and brings him to her house where her dad + an old first aid kit suffice for the care of a licensed medical professional.

By doing this, Betty has literally and figuratively let dark and murder-y spirits into the Cooper home. It was obvious that he feels resentment towards his long-lost family, but it seems like he wants to inflict harm on one member specifically. 


Processing Mass Shootings

Earlier this month the world watched in horror as the events of the deadliest mass shooting in current US history unfolded. I wondered how long its news lifespan would be this time. How long would it take the president and his party to convince us that all we can do is say our prayers and move on?

The American public is often forced to view tragedies like these as unpreventable. They're attributed to the unpredictability of the evil and crazed lone wolf. It's as if we are expected to be content with the fact that if the men who commit these atrocities fit into the prototype of 'white male', then there is no way they can be flagged or stopped. 

Notable members of the Republican party retreat to the topic of mental health in their many poor attempts to quell American's concerns about the inevitability of mass shootings. It masks their cowardice towards having productive conversations about gun control. In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting Paul Ryan spoke out about the importance of mental health reform, on its ability to prevent events like these from happening again. He might have to be reminded that his effort to champion the repeal of the ACA would slash the one of the largest "expansions of mental health and substance use disorder coverage in a generation (Mentalhealth.gov)." This debases the public health issue surrounding our country's stigma towards mental health. It's taking credit for policy that you have not fought for and will never fight for. 

When we apply Paul Ryan's logic to the greater issue of gun violence, we can state that the problem isn't guns, it's making sure they are out of the hands of the people who shouldn't have them. But as the Department of Health and Human Services has stated (and as this was referenced in this article from The Nation), "most people with mental illness are not violent, and only 3 percent–5 percent of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness." 

Maybe this retreat to violence is a product of our culture. I happened to be reading bell hooks' All About Love when the events in Las Vegas unfolded. In it, hooks dedicates as much time to unpacking the value of love and community as she does discussing the cultural impact our loveless society has had on us as individuals.

“The more we watch spectacles of meaningless death, of random violence and cruelty, the more afraid we come in our daily lives. We cannot embrace the stranger with love for we fear the stranger. We believe the stranger is a messenger of death who wants our life. This irrational fear is an expression of madness if we think of madness as meaning we are out of touch with reality. Even though we are more likely to be hurt by someone we know than a stranger, our fear is directed toward the unknown and the unfamiliar. That fear brings with it intense paranoia and a constant obsession with safety"(194).

An obsession with and desire for safety seems quite reasonable if it means that, in the long run, it can protect us when the ever looming threat of deadly violence becomes a reality. The problem with this reasoning is that it leads us to a circular fallacy; the "good guys" with guns have never been able to stop a mass shooting from happening. We know this and so do lawmakers. 

America accounts for 4.4 percent of the world's population but for almost half of the civilian owned guns (Vox). State gun ownership stats directly correspond to their rate of gun related deaths (Vox). The party with majority rule in Congress knows the risks that their lax gun control laws pose to their citizens and continually choose to do nothing about it. Toxic masculinity and the patriarchal structure of this country have inextricably tied gun rights to America's favorite trigger word: freedom. It's a lethal formula. 

Post Grad

Like the movie starring Alexis Bledel - but not at all.

It's been a year since I graduated college, six-ish months since I turned 23, and .5 hours since I've had a mini existential crisis. What has changed since the day I walked across that stage... tassels stuck to my lip gloss on the one occasion since 2014 where I actively decided to wear lip gloss? 

My anxiety, for starters, reincarnates itself into new and fun (!) forms. My living quarters are 1000x cleaner but with 1000x less privacy. My skin is clearer but partly because I spend almost all of my nights at home - sans makeup but with sheet masks. Everything post graduation feels fleeting and permanent at the same time.

Will I wake up one day suddenly knowing how health insurance works? I'm doubtful. Will I always be willing to spend too much money to opt for almond milk instead of regular milk in my coffee? Yes, but that's an issue to address another time.

I think I've waited for a moment, or a stretch of moments, that would shake me out of my complacency. Maybe, I thought, it would happen during a significant event like while I watched two of my best friends graduate from our now alma mater this past weekend. Maybe, I think, it will happen during an insignificant event like while I sit on the bus in bumper to bumper traffic on the way home from work. Or maybe I'll just tell myself to get my shit together and do it. 

In an effort to make myself less stressed and less anxious about my future, I've tried to stick to making only short term goals. Like, "by this time next month, I'll try to have done X." But there are things that have deadlines, like applications to grad schools, that require me to confront time head on. I guess that's the most intimidating part of this all - having to put my own time stamps on life. 

In May 2016, Pew Research Center published a study revealing that for the first time in the 'modern era' (130 years), more young adults ages 18-34 are living with their parents than in other living arrangements. While the timing of the release of this study was concurrent with me getting my diploma, knowing that I was part of a big 'stay at home kids' club has only temporarily made me feel better or more secure in my current situation. And about locking myself out of my online banking account twice in the span of three months. 

But said banking account is probably (definitely) better off with me living at home; it'll give me the independence that I don't necessarily have now in the future. I also may or may not need a trigger warning for the word future now. It could be a blessing in disguise or personal issue that needs to be addressed ASAP. From all of this uncertainty, though, comes a weird comfort. I guess in knowing that because I don't have a plan...