15 shows Riverdale fans should check out
All caught up with Riverdale? These similar shows can keep you company until new episodes come out.
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Riverdale is a special breed of teen drama. Based on the popular Archie Comics, it's made specifically with adults in mind. Everything from the gloomy tone to the on-the-nose voice-overs to the bizarre twists are testament to that. It doesn't stop teenagers from loving it though, as the series has become a bona fide hit ever since its premiere back in 2017.
With Netflix owning the international rights for Riverdale, the show's success has exploded outside US borders as well. Fans from all over the world dissect every episode as soon as it drops on the streaming service, come up with theories surrounding the many mysteries plaguing the fictional town and ship the hell out of these brooding and ridiculously attractive teens – and often their villainous parents.
All in all, the show's popularity is on the rise. Netflix even debuted a companion series, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Plus, spin-off Katy Keene is another exciting addition to the Riverdale universe. If you're still looking for similar content to keep you busy, here are 15 equally amazing shows that will make your heart sing.
1. Pretty Little Liars
- Year: 2010
- Cast: Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell
Pretty Little Liars follows four best friends who reunite one year after the queen bee of the group, Alison, goes missing. Soon after, they begin to receive threatening messages from someone named "A" and need to figure out how far they are willing to go to keep their secrets hidden. Add some relationship drama into the mix and you've got yourself the perfect guilty binge.
While the story is sometimes predictable and the melodrama can become exhausting, there's no denying the show's charm. Thanks to a great cast and an overall feeling of suspense, Pretty Little Liars is likely to appeal to viewers of all ages, especially since it tends to keep fans guessing about the identity of the mysterious "A".
2. The Vampire Diaries
- Year: 2009
- Cast: Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Kat Graham, Candice King
Vampires are nothing new. Yet, the appeal of The Vampire Diaries is universal, especially thanks to a few extremely compelling characters and plenty of unexpected twists. Set in the fictional town Mystic Falls, the show revolves around Elena, a teenager who becomes enthralled in the world of two vampire brothers and, as a result, has to learn how to deal with all the mayhem associated with the supernatural world.
Overall, the series is an excellent example of how to properly tell captivating stories at a feverish rate, delivering cliffhanger after cliffhanger and allowing characters to grow in a believable way as seasons go by. It's engaging, fast-paced and bloody addictive.
3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Year: 1997
- Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, Anthony Head
If you haven't been living under a rock for the past 20 years, you're likely already familiar with this acclaimed supernatural drama. With a reboot in the works, now is the perfect time to revisit the original. Buffy the Vampire Slayer centres on Buffy, who is far from your typical teenager. She's a Slayer, one in a long line of young women chosen by fate to battle evil. Over the course of seven seasons, she and her Scooby gang of friends have to deal with vampires, demons and all sorts of exotic dark forces.
Considered one of the greatest supernatural teen shows ever, Buffy successfully stands the test of time. While some of the special effects will look dated to contemporary viewers, the show has a lot of heart, relying on universal themes like friendship and inner strength. Plus, it's compulsively watchable.
4. Twin Peaks
- Year: 1990
- Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook
If you watch Riverdale for its slick visuals and creepy small-town vibe, Twin Peaks should definitely be on your watch list. This cult classic is the best kind of surreal, seamlessly blending crime elements with supernatural undertones and spectacular dream sequences. While the story is certainly compelling, the show's eerie visuals are what make it hard for viewers to look away.
The series follows an investigation headed by an FBI agent into the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer in the fictional Twin Peaks. As he starts to uncover the town's secrets, it becomes clear that not everyone is what they seem and that he may need some supernatural help to solve the gruesome murder.
5. Gossip Girl
- Year: 2007
- Cast: Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Penn Badgley, Chace Crawford
When it comes to teen dramas, Gossip Girl is the unofficial queen bee of the genre. The series, which ran for six seasons, revolves around a group of privileged New York high schoolers from the Upper East Side who go around throwing glamorous parties, attending fabulous events and constantly scheming against their enemies, real or imagined. All the while, their moves are religiously documented by an anonymous blogger called Gossip Girl.
While Gossip Girl was appointment television during its first couple of seasons and will forever be a pop culture staple, the series does experience a drop in quality in later instalments. Still, it's worth following the scandalous lives of Manhattan's elite for the fashion and banter alone, as well as for the delight that was Blair Waldorf.
6. Veronica Mars
- Year: 2004
- Cast: Kristen Bell, Percy Daggs III, Jason Dohring, Francis Capra
The noir tone and the looming sense of danger surrounding Veronica Mars are a great match for Riverdale, so fans of The CW series might want to give this cult favourite a try as well. The show follows a snarky high school girl who moonlights as a private investigator on the side, while also struggling to solve her best friend's murder.
Veronica Mars excels at blending procedural elements with typical teen drama and engaging season-long mysteries. It also benefits from a confident performance by Kristen Bell, who can gracefully go from vulnerable to ruthless in a manner of seconds. The show's clever plotting and thoughtful subject matter elevate it above your typical teen drama. Veronica Mars trusts its audience to understand what's going on and diligently follow along without explaining every little thing.
- Year: 2009
- Cast: Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Joseph Gilgun, Iwan Rheon, Lauren Socha
Misfits follows a small group of teens who get caught in a freaky storm while doing community service. They soon realise they gained superpowers and band together to protect a huge secret, despite the fact that they don't seem to like each other very much.
Gritty and inventive, Misfits excels thanks to the cast's strength. The characters are extremely compelling and the young talent on screen deliver nuanced and memorable performances, ensuring that viewers will be hooked from episode one. Besides, the show sports a cheeky sense of humour, so you'll find yourself laughing out loud more than once.
8. Stranger Things
- Year: 2016
- Cast: Winona Ryder, Millie Bobby, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo
It didn't take long for this exciting Netflix original to become a hit; if you haven't tuned in yet, you're missing out. A love letter to Spielberg films and vintage 80s television, Stranger Things has a similar premise to Riverdale. A young boy goes missing and his friends and family search for answers. Soon, they become involved in an extraordinary mystery involving top-secret government experiments and terrifying supernatural forces. It won't take long for viewers to be on the edge of their seats.
Stranger Things delivers scares and thrills, but also takes time to explore teenage love and friendship. As a bonus, the chemistry between the young actors is a thing of beauty.
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9. True Detective
- Year: 2014
- Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Rachel McAdams
While Riverdale and True Detective don't seem to have much in common at first glance, even Cole Sprouse hinted at one point that the teen drama is a lot like the HBO hit. Since both shows feature engaging mysteries, we can't help but agree.
True Detective is an anthology crime drama, which in season 1 follows 2 investigators who pursue a serial killer over a 17-year period. The series isn't afraid to make viewers uncomfortable and mess with their minds, as it focuses more on how the murders affect the lead detectives instead of delivering a straightforward whodunnit mystery. It's clever and riveting, featuring two mesmerising performances from Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey.
10. Teen Wolf
- Year: 2011
- Cast: Tyler Posey, Holland Roden, Dylan O'Brien, Linden Ashby
The gist of this teen drama is pretty easy to guess – it follows a high school student who becomes a werewolf and has to cope with the consequences, struggling to balance his new identity with typical adolescent problems. But despite the familiarity of the premise, Teen Wolf benefits from a charismatic cast and healthy doses of humour, which elevate it above your run-of-the-mill paranormal show.
The series is based on the 1985 Michael J Fox film of the same name, but it's a much darker affair. Still, it manages to maintain a sexy tone, which makes it the perfect easy binge for when you're craving something with a bit of an edge.
11. Pushing Daisies
- Year: 2007
- Cast: Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Jim Dale
Both the cinematography and editing of Riverdale are spectacular. The same applies for this 2007 gem, which was unfortunately cancelled way too soon. Consider it the polar opposite of Riverdale if you must, style-wise. Where the teen drama is dark and moody, Pushing Daisies explodes with colour and light. If you're a fan of stunning visuals, this should be reason enough to tune in.
Pushing Daisies revolves around Ned, a pie-maker able to bring dead things back to life with the power of a simple touch. Unfortunately, if he touches them again, they'll return to being dead forever. So when he revives his childhood sweetheart, Ned has to do everything in his power to ensure they'll never touch again. Along with her, a private investigator and a co-worker, he starts to use his special talent to investigate crimes. Quirky and heart-warming, the show is like a breath of fresh air. Or like the first bite from a freshly made pie.
- Year: 2014
- Cast: Allison Tolman, Billy Bob Thornton, Colin Hanks, Martin Freeman
An anthology series inspired by the 1996 film of the same name, Fargo centres its first season on a drifter, Lorne Malvo, who brings mayhem to a small town in Minnesota and influences the community with his seemingly endless malice and deception. Meanwhile, the police try to solve a series of murders they believe may be connected to Malvo's sudden appearance in the small town.
Dark humour, unexpected twists and just a touch of the absurd make Fargo one of the best series to grace our screens in recent years. Besides, the small-town vibe is likely to appeal to Riverdale fans, so gear up for a thrilling ride.
- Year: 2013
- Cast: David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan
Broadchurch is a pretty straightforward police procedural. What will make it appealing to Riverdale viewers is the fact that the action takes place in a close-knit community, where everyone is covering up secrets. The series follows the investigation into the murder of a young boy, which ends up placing an entire small town under a national spotlight.
Beautifully shot and acted, Broadchurch will keep you guessing until the very end, slowly building tension and toying with your mind. It's riveting and heartbreaking, humorous and tremendously sad, smart and compelling.
14. The Society
- Year: 2019
- Cast: Kathryn Newton, Gideon Adlon, Sean Berdy, Natasha Liu Bordizzo
The only bad thing about this series is that Netflix cancelled it way too soon. Alas, we can still enjoy the one season we got – and if you like the Riverdale small-town vibes, well, it doesn't get smaller than this.
The Society is basically a modern take on the classic Lord of the Flies. When a group of teens return from a trip, they quickly realise that everyone else from their New England town has vanished and they can't get in touch with the outside world. The newfound freedom is exciting at first, but surviving on limited resources and navigating this new reality quickly turns dangerous.
A compelling blend of mystery and melodrama, this series explores themes related to community, relationships and growing up. All things that will appeal to Riverdale enthusiasts.
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15. Dare Me
- Year: 2019
- Cast: Willa Fitzgerald, Herizen F. Guardiola, Marlo Kelly
Based on Megan Abbott's crime novel of the same name, Dare Me explores the cutthroat world of competitive high school cheerleading and centres on two friends whose bond gets tested when a new cheer coach enters the scene.
What does this have to do with Riverdale, you may ask? Dare Me is all about volatile friendships, so there's a good chance it will be a good fit for fans of Archie and company. Plus, there's a dark mystery waiting to be uncovered as a shocking crime rocks the small community, so buckle up for exciting twists.
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