HomeTelevision'Katy Keene' Brings Riverdale’s Soap Operatics to The Big Apple in Style

‘Katy Keene’ Brings Riverdale’s Soap Operatics to The Big Apple in Style

Photo Credit: The CW Network

Katy Keene (Lucy Hale, Fantasy Island) is up for a big promotion but has to impress her demanding boss Gloria Grandbilt (Katherine LaNasa, Dynasty) first. Her new roommate Josie (Ashleigh Murray, Valley Girl) tries to make it as a singer in New York while her other roommate Jorge (Jonny Beauchamp, Penny Dreadful) has a Broadway audition. 

It’s almost quaint to remember when Riverdale was about Archie’s desire to become a musician. While the show still features the occasional musical segment, it left behind such relatively grounded concerns somewhere amongst the murders, gang wars, and cults. There must have been some desire to return to the idea though, because we now have a spin-off all about various young artists looking for success. Given how far Riverdale has moved away from those humble beginnings in favor of being defined by its buck wild twists, can a spin-off with its feet planted a little more firmly in the real world actually work? 

It helps to point out that this “realism” is entirely relative. Their goals and problems may be more relatable, but the characters still live in a fantasy world where you meet a billionaire your first day in New York City and the only reason you don’t get a record deal is his jealous sister. The show’s version of NYC is also as much of a ridiculous theme park as the town of Riverdale. You’ll quickly lose count of all the famous locales that no local actually goes to that get name-dropped (for bonus points, Coney Island gets mentioned almost immediately). All of this is to say that if you were worried Katy Keene would lose some of Riverdale‘s cheesy soap opera melodrama, you have nothing to worry about. 

There is a real emotion being tapped into in the show’s exploration of young creatives struggling for success though. It’s there in the look on Josie’s face as she’s surrounded for the first time by the chaos of her roommates getting ready in the morning, the feeling that she’s found her people. And it’s there in Jorge’s anger and disappointment when he’s turned away for being too feminine. Jorge’s plot is the only one that touches on a real issue, and it does actually achieve some real pathos. It’s easy to imagine drag queen Jorge descending into uncomfortable parody, but for now they’re walking a fine line successfully. 

A lot of that can be attributed to Jonny Beaucamp, who infuses the character with some genuine heart. Ashleigh Murray has been putting in great work as Josie for years, and while we’re seeing a softer side of her than usual, she’s still a reliable talent. The real star, though, is Lucy Hale as Katy herself. Impossibly peppy and cheerful, Hale seems like she walked straight out of a comic book. That kind of bubbly demeanor, letting all troubles roll off her back with a one shoulder shrug and a head bob, is key to making the show so fun. The only letdown in the cast is Zane Holtz (From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series) as Katy’s boyfriend KO Kelly. A kind-hearted hunk in the mold of Archie himself, Holtz lacks KJ Apa’s dopey charm and thus ends up little more than a boring slab of eye candy. 

However, the most important thing for both a Riverdale spinoff and a show about an aspiring fashion designer is style, and Katy Keene has plenty of it. All the clothes Katy makes are legitimately dazzling, not to mention the sumptuousness of the luxury department store she works in. Even things that are objectively bizarre choices, like the combination vest/cape Katy wears at the start, look impossibly chic. Combined with the same eye for color, lighting, and cinematography that Riverdale has, the show is simply gorgeous. 

Not quite as insane as Riverdale has become and without the well-established characters of the Archieverse, Katy Keene is clearly still finding its footing. But there is enough here to suggest it could reach the same soap operatic heights as its predecessors. If you think you could enjoy the dialogue and look of Riverdale without all the murder and mystery, then Katy Keene shows every sign of being just as fun. 

Rating: 7 out of 10 

Katy Keene airs every Thursday on The CW Network. The premiere can be stream on the CW website.


Chris Diggins
Chris Digginshttps://alittleperspective.substack.com
"Lord" Chris Diggins, "Grand Prognosticator of ThePopBreak.com" is a staff writer and incorrigible layabout for The Pop Break. He usually reviews TV and movies, although he sometimes writes ludicrously long pieces of critical analysis and badgers the editors to publish it. He cannot be stopped.

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