Saturday is back-to-school day

It’s time for shows with a little class on DStv’s all-student Saturdays!

Growing up during high school, the only drama one could recall happening was when you couldn’t find a scientific calculator for your maths exam or when you handed in an assignment a day or two late. Never would we have dreamt of making pacts with high school friends to cover up the unspeakable murders we committed, or try to infiltrate cults that use babies in rituals, leading them to levitate. Not your average high school in South Africa, but in Riverdale – the TV series, the town and the school – it’s just another Tuesday.

If you’re a seasoned TV viewer, you might be thinking, “Why would I ever want to get enveloped in this high school drama?” But Riverdale is a place where not even Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt could outrun the drama. It’s full of moody teens, bloodshed, bodies dropping left and right, and plenty of whodunit questions that’ll keep you coming back for more in S4.

But how is a show able to get weird and strange without alienating viewers? Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa says, “You don’t want to repeat yourself, but the show kind of needs a strong genre – crime or pulp or noir elements. It’s always figuring out what that element is, and how is it different from earlier iterations.”

In S4, the Core Four of Archie (K.J. Apa), Veronica (Camila Mendes), Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) find their friendship put to the ultimate test when Archie and Betty give in to their exploding teen hormones and reignite their old romantic feelings for each other from S1. Aguirre-Sacasa says about the potential forbidden romance, “Definitely, there are major, major repercussions for what Betty and Archie did that go down at prom, in true teen drama fashion. So no, we haven’t seen the end of that story by a long shot.” He continues, “The relationship drama will always be one of the driving forces of the show. And though the status quo is a little bit returned in the last episode of the season, the story is nowhere near finished yet.”

This was bound to happen, what with them being childhood friends and next-door neighbours, but as to how this will affect their current relationships with Veronica and Jughead, only time will tell.

Betty meanwhile, taking a break from thinking about Archie’s lips, is drawn back into the detective game as she tries to figure out who’s been secretly recording the townsfolk of Riverdale’s homes. It’s super weird and off-putting and she can’t do it alone, so she, of course, has to rope in her boyfriend, Jughead, to lend her a hand and look broody and pouty in all of his scenes. Jughead however, has reason to be all sulky looking as he’ll be heading off to a new school this season. “I think Betty’s storyline is more integrated with Charles, and Jughead is wrapped up in his prep school narrative, which is kind of Gossip Girl, Upper East Side, scholarship, froufrou, silver spoon kind of kids that Jughead’s being injected into,” Cole Sprouse reveals.

Riverdale wouldn’t be complete without its signature musical episode, and this season’s episode will have you wanting to pause your DVR and re-watch what you just saw. Be prepared to see most of the cast wigging out, literally, in an act of defiance against their new wet-blanket principal and the long-awaited debut of the Archie-led band, The Archies.

If you’re still reading and you’re thinking that none of this actually tickles your fancy, fear not because there are other shows in the teen drama high school and college universe.

Watch Riverdale S4 from Saturday, 25 July on M-Net (DStv 101) at 21:00

David Makes Man

When you have Hollywood heavyweights like Oprah Winfrey and Michael B. Jordan as your producers and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight, 2016) backing your vision, you know you must have something special going on.

That is the case with new teen-drama David Makes Man, starring Akili McDowell as David. Moving on from the teen-angst and dark nature of Riverdale, this show follows the story of David, an extremely talented, young prodigy who lives in an underdeveloped neighbourhood where crime and hard living is the daily bread. Despite all the hardships, he is thrown a lifeline when he gets accepted into a school for academically gifted children. It is here where David tries to find a balance between his new school, which is offering him a way out of poverty, and the tough life he lives in his neighbourhood.

Akili McDowell pulls the balancing act together quite brilliantly. “It immediately connected to me,” says Akili about the story. “David is raised by a single mother, just like me. From a small town. And even though we face so many challenges, we still have to push to be better and know that our dreams can come true. And when Tarell writes it, you know it’s going to be amazing, so I was just ready to get to work.”

Watch David Makes Man S1 on Saturdays on Vuzu (DStv 116) at 20:00


Katy Keene

Fresh off the hype train that is Riverdale, creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa roped in writer Michael Grassi to help him expand the Riverdale universe even further by creating the spin-off show Katy Keene. Based on the Archie comics, the show feels very much like Riverdale – but a bit more grown-up, a lot lighter and somewhat less weird. You can expect drama, singing and young, beautiful people just trying to make their way in New York as they take their first steps in the post-high school world. Think of it as a Riverdale-lite series, minus the blood, mysteries and plot twists. Fans of another high school series, Glee, will love all the musical numbers and emphasis on performance.

The story follows former Riverdale resident Katy Keene (Lucy Hale), who’s trying to make a living as a fashion designer, while her friend and hopeful singer Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray) has ambitions of making it in the music industry. Along with their roommate, Jorge (Jonny Beauchamp) who has his eyes on making an impact on Broadway, they embark on a journey showcasing the highs and lows of aspiring artists who try to make their dreams come true.

Despite focusing mostly on fashion, Lucy’s character does get to exercise her singing muscles in a good few episodes. “On the show, we’re more focused on Katy wanting to become a designer, but in the comics, she really does a little bit of everything – she acts, she sings, she dances. So that’s exciting for me, because the possibilities are endless,” Lucy says.

Watch Katy Keene S1 from Saturday, 1 August on M-Net (DStv 101) at 20:00

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