‘At Its Heart, a Haunted Town’: Patriarchal Violence, Female Resistance, and Post-Trauma in Riverdale
This article explores thanatological themes in the CW drama Riverdale with attention to how the series employs death and its signifiers to construct a metaphor for patriarchal violence and its traumatic imprints. Focusing on three central female characters, it considers how Riverdale explores patriarchal violence and the trauma it produces both at the level of narrative and through experimentation with Gothic trappings, generic conventions, aesthetic sensibilities, non-diegetic effects, and allusions to other narratives of patriarchal violence. This analysis underscores how Riverdale discloses and navigates one of trauma's central paradoxes: the impossibility and the imperative of its representation. It considers also how the female body in Riverdale acts as a vehicle of resistance: a site where patriarchal violence is inscribed but might also be mobilized toward alternative forms of identity negotiation and interconnection, and toward arousing in the audience a desire to participate in the radical work of participatory witnessing.