Story time: I was a pre-teen Archie Comics superfan.
I also happened to grow up in a town called Riverdale in The Bronx, New York. In a classic “chicken and egg” situation, I’m not sure which came first: My family’s move to Riverdale or my obsession with Archie Comics, which — if somehow you missed it — takes place in a town called Riverdale.
Here are a few points I’d like to make up front:
1. Riverdale from the comics (and TV show) is not necessarily the same neighborhood as Riverdale in the Bronx. In one of the comics, the editors said this about Riverdale’s location: “Riverdale is more of a state of mind than an actual physical location. It could be anywhere that kind people live and just have fun, like Archie and his friends. It could be in the Midwest, or along the Eastern Seaboard, or even a town in Canada, Mexico, or England.”
2. However, on the show in Season One, there’s a reference to Rockland County, which is a real county not too far from New York City.
3. Archie Comics IS based out of Mamaroneck, NY (in Westchester, which is approximately a 30-minute drive from my Riverdale) so it is fair to say that the NAME of Riverdale comes from the Riverdale I grew up in.
Okay, without further ado, here’s how the two Riverdales stack up:
1. They are both definitively small towns.
2. Real Riverdale is broken into North Riverdale and South Riverdale, which is reminiscent of the North and South sides of Riverdale on the show.
3. There is a central river in both Fictional Riverdale and Real Riverdale. On the show, it’s Sweetwater River and in Real Riverdale it’s the Hudson River.
4. So you know how Cheryl Blossom’s home is called Thornhill? I’m not saying this was intentional, but we DO have a beautiful and vast estate called Wave Hill with public gardens.
5. In Real Riverdale, there is a diner called Riverdale Diner (and a few other diner options as well) but Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe is merely a beautiful 1950’s wet dream.
6. Real Riverdale doesn’t have a movie theater (seriously, small town!) so I would have honestly killed for something like the Bijou.
7. While the “big” newspaper on the show is the Riverdale Register, our local paper is called the Riverdale Press.
8. And, finally, here’s a quick list of things I’m pretty sure Real Riverdale doesn’t have: Jingle Jangle, Gryphons & Gargoyles, Gargoyle King, EXTREMELY HOT teenagers, EXTREMELY HOT teenagers who are actually 20-somethings, murderous parents, a mobster named Papa Poutine, his son named Small Fry, prison fight clubs, the Red Circle, a farm that’s really a cult, Sisters of Quiet Mercy, and Miss Grundy.
TL;DR: Fake Riverdale is fun to watch, but Real Riverdale is 100x more chill.