The CW is no stranger to taking chances on strange, sometimes ludicrous TV shows and in fact, it’s become a bit of a trend in the Mark Pedowitz-led era for the network to take gambles on projects that other networks might just shrug off. Remember, this is the same network that gave audiences both Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, two women-led TV series that sound downright ridiculous on the page, but have become constant awards contenders in their respective categories over the past few years. Last night too, the network debuted one of its strangest and most ambitious comic book adaptations to date with Riverdale.
A dark, Lynchian take on the beloved, familiar world and characters of Archie comics, it’s a series that even before its premiere had been compared to previous TV hits like The O.C. or Twin Peaks. On the receiving end of some serious critical acclaim leading into its premiere last night as well, and it looked like Riverdale had the chance to, possibly, emerge as one of the big hits of the early TV season this year.
Following its premiere last night, however, it looks like Riverdale is off to a bit of a modest start in the ratings. According to TVLine, the series premiere drew in a 0.5 rating in adults 18-49, with 1.37 million viewers tuning in. Those are some respectable numbers for the network though, falling close to what both Frequency and No Tomorrow brought in when they debuted on the network late last year also. However, it should be noted that neither of those other freshman dramas received back orders from the network either.
Now, this isn’t necessarily cause for concern. After all, the series is only one episode in so far, and there’s a very high chance its ratings could rise over the next couple of episodes. It’s also possible that the series could perform better when the Live +3 and +7 ratings are taken into consideration in a few days, and Riverdale could receive a boost from the positive word of mouth surrounding it alone. There is, of course, also the possibility for the series’ numbers to fall throughout the rest of the season, which could make Riverdale‘s future less of a sure thing than some fans and critics might have initially assumed.
The series isn’t performing nearly as well as some of the network’s other comic book adaptations, like The Flash or Arrow. But in fairness, that might also be because most general viewers might not even realize or know that it is a comic book adaptation or based on the Archie comics, especially since it hardly bares any resemblance aesthetically or tonally as that of the long-running series.
To its credit also, the show is already one of the most well-reviewed new titles of the year so far, and if it continues to receive that same kind of critical praise as it continues on, then it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility for The CW to renew it anyways. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has never been a ratings hit by any means, but because of the originality of the material and its status as one of the best-reviewed comedies on the air right now, the network has continued to support and renew it, even despite its low numbers. So for right now, it’s all really too early to know for sure or even speculate on what the future of Riverdale might be, though it could prove to be just as intriguing to watch as the murder mystery at the heart of its story.
Riverdale continues next Thursday, February 2 with ‘Chapter Two: A Touch of Evil’ at 9pm on The CW.