The hit Netflix show Riverdale is the subject of an academic conference on Sunday, March 11 in Abbotsford. (Netflix photo)

Hit TV series Riverdale the subject of academic conference

Netflix program discussed in ‘myriad ways’ at Fraser Valley event on March 11

  • Mar. 7, 2018 12:39 p.m.

Heather McAlpine, an associate professor in the English department at University of the Fraser Valley (UFV), started watching the hit Netflix TV series Riverdale last October.

Less than a month later, she was planning an academic conference about it.

That conference – titled Riverdale: A Land of Contrasts – takes place at U-House on the Abbotsford UFV campus (33844 King Rd.) this Sunday, March 11.

The schedule includes 12 presenters, two creative projects and a full day of panels. It concludes with a milkshake social at Rocko’s Diner in Mission, where parts of the Riverdale pilot were filmed.

The show – which reimagines the characters in the Archie comics in a grittier, darker, real-world context – came to Netflix in May 2017 and is now in its second season.

It quickly became hugely popular on the streaming site – both with people who love it, and those who love to “hate-watch” it.

The show has several filming locations in and around the Fraser Valley, which is partially why McAlpine started watching.

She was interested in watching a relatively unserious TV series, especially with the bonus that she might recognize some local landmarks.

She didn’t count on becoming, in her words, “slightly obsessed” with it, let alone planning a “semi-serious academic conference” around it.

“I feel like it was already too late when I turned it on,” McAlpine says, laughing.

As soon as she tweeted that she had started watching the series last fall, fellow English department instructor Ron Sweeney couldn’t resist chiming in.

“It’s terrible,” he replied. And then, almost instantly, in the same thread: “I just finished episode 10.” He, too, couldn’t resist the allure of hitting “play next episode.”

The conversation – how can something so overdramatic and rife with tropes and cliches be so entertaining? – quickly spiralled out of control.

The next thing anyone knew, McAlpine, Sweeney, and a host of other UFV English faculty, students, and graduates were fielding ideas for conference papers and collaborating on a call for papers.

Finally, the conference has come to fruition, with papers considering and reconsidering the show in myriad ways.

One panel focuses on the traditional gothic themes in the show, which mimic Gothic literature and novels; other papers present character studies or fan theories, such as the idea that Riverdale and Stranger Things – another hit Netflix series – take place in the same universe.

It’s been a wild ride, not to mention a hilarious one, McAlpine says.

Conference panels begin at 9 a.m. There is no registration fee, but those planning to attend are asked to register in advance online at FraserValleyRiverdale.Wordpress.com, where the full schedule is also posted.

Just Posted

Budget cuts at Kwantlen Polytechnic will mean larger classes

President of Kwantlen faculty association says administration salaries are going up

Fraser Valley Thunderbirds take silver in finals of new minor midget hockey league

Team of mostly Langley players will have a new look in the second season

Langley tutor lauded on ice

Sylvia Lloyd was recognized for the work she does – paid and unpaid – helping tutor children.

Trappers on brink of elimination after third loss

“We’ve got to play desperate hockey’ coach of Langley hockey team says

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

Starbucks to test recyclable cups, redesign stores in B.C., U.S. cities

The company also said it plans to redesign its stores as it adapts to increasing mobile pick-up and delivery orders

In pre-election budget, Liberals boost infrastructure cash to cities, broadband

The budget document says the Liberals have approved more than 33,000 projects, worth about $19.9 billion in federal financing

Facebook to overhaul ad targeting to prevent discrimination

The company is also paying about $5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal fees and other costs

B.C. mosque part of open-house effort launched in wake of New Zealand shootings

The ‘Visit a Mosque’ campaign aims to combat Islamophobia

Teacher reprimanded after incident with Grade 11 student in school gym

Gregory Norman Brock was teaching at a high school in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District

Explosives unit brought in after suspicious boxes left at B.C. RCMP detachment

Nanaimo RCMP issues all clear after packages were found on lawn earlier in the day

Avalanche control tomorrow on Highway 1

Expect closures of up to two hours east of Revelstoke

Newfoundland man caught after posting photo of himself drinking and driving

The 19-year-old took a photo of himself holding a beer bottle and cigarette while at the wheel

Most Read