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Recently, the first season of CW teen drama Riverdale made its way to Netflix. While you may have heard that the show is an Archie Comics spinoff that resembles a delightful mashup of Gossip Girl and Twin Peaks, that’s only part of the story. In fact, this show is actually a very long and complicated advertisement for choker necklaces that also involves a murder mystery.
did I watch 6 hours of Riverdale last night, or did I watch a really long commercial for chokers? pic.twitter.com/XU93w5iDO4— Stephanie Talmadge (@srtalmadge) July 12, 2017
In other words, it’s a perfect TV show.
Since this time last year, Racked has been patiently awaiting the fall of the Great Chokerian Empire that has ruled both the necks of music festival-goers and the accessories sections of the fast fashion stores that outfit them for this purpose.
And yet here we are, halfway through 2017, and along comes a cast of exceptionally attractive twentysomethings (who look young enough to pass as 15-year-olds) on a mission to prove that the choker remains an important staple for Hot Teens everywhere.
Pendant chokers. Ribbon chokers. Those suede/leather tie-on ones that I don’t know the proper name for. Keyhole necklines that result in a choker-like effect. They’re all on display here, pulled tautly across the faux-teenage necks of nearly every female character in nearly every scene on this show.
Veronica, the ex-New York socialite, prefers short strands of pearls paired with her completely impractical collection of pencil skirts. However, she’ll still put on a skinny black choker for the occasional mid-week club outing to piss off her mom.
I’m pretty sure Josie and Val of Pussycat fame always have black chokers on, but they definitely have to wear them whenever they’re performing. It’s part of their brand. Along with cat ears.
Cheryl, the grieving sister and reigning mean girl who’s really just misunderstood, has a more fraught relationship with necklaces. Sometimes she’ll wear a coy bow-tied black choker, but other times she sticks to the more reserved keyhole silhouette. She’s really trying to figure out who she is. And what kind of choker she’s supposed to wear. And who killed her brother. She’s got on a lot on her plate; being a teen girl is hard!
Then there’s Betty, who is almost always wearing a Peter Pan collar and a cardigan. Betty doesn’t get to wear chokers because Betty is the Good Girl. (Just ask her mom!) This is cemented in an early episode when Betty is in the middle of putting on red lipstick, which “makes her feel powerful,” when her controlling mother walks in and wipes it off her lips. She instead hands Betty a “perfectly pink” shade much more suited to her straight-laced daughter.
The sole exception comes shortly after the red lipstick scene, when Betty and Veronica enact a steamy threesome revenge plot against a sexist football player. Here, Betty is supposed to be sexy, so she struts in wearing a Velma Kelly jet black wig, red lips, black lace bra, and of course — the ultimate sexy teen item — a black choker.
Polly, Betty’s sister, doesn’t get to wear chokers either because **SPOILER ALERT** she’s pregnant, so she’s also not sexy. (She was sexy, back in her own red lipstick days, but that was before she was with child. Now she’s back to headbands.)
Sure, the coded accessory signifiers are a little silly, but they’re also a fairly accurate representation of how teen girls both express themselves and are perceived by others — men in particular. Who among us has not donned a red lip to feel powerful? And who among our mothers hasn’t tried to dissuade us from stretchy black chokers, fearing their suggestion?
The point is, Riverdale is a very enjoyable show and should I buy a choker????