‘Riverdale’ Premiere Prep: Some Humble Suggestions
via Riverdale

During my formative years of four, five and six, I forgot to learn how to read. I was too busy watching Titanic and making clothes for my American Girl Dolls out of Thanksgiving napkins. Every day in first grade, I was pulled out of the classroom to meet with a remedial reading tutor. I have some memory that these one-on-one sessions took place in a refurbished janitor’s closet with a floor covered in sawdust shavings, but that can’t be true, can it? That’s from the “MILF Island” episode of 30 Rock, I think.

In any case, the tutor didn’t help. A stack of Archie Comics was the real reason I started reading.

Classic Archie Comics, which took place in a riverside town called Riverdale, are almost offensively G-rated, but the drawings felt adult. The iconic beauty of Riverdale’s wealthy snob Veronica Lodge was rounded out by a great pair of boobs. Cheryl Blossom, the red-headed newcomer, charmed every man she met with Comic Sans font that dripped with innuendo. Sabrina had a real hunk of a boyfriend named Harvey.

I learned to find patterns in the words of the characters’ speech bubbles. Fifty percent of all Archies comics end with Riverdale’s bad boy Reggie standing under a bucket of cold water that has been dumped on his head while Archie’s best friend, Jughead, shouts, “You’re all wet!” The other 50 percent end in Veronica stealing Archie, the comic’s titular klutz/hottie, away from Betty, the town’s nice girl — or Cheryl stealing Archie away from them both.

When Riverdale, a sexier, spookier reboot of the comic came to The CW last year, I screamed my way through every episode. In it, Archie has been reimagined as a dark Lynchian/Shakespearean tale where class, murder, singer-songwritering and maple syrup run rampant along Riverdale’s Sweetwater River, where a boy named Jason Blossom (Cheryl’s twin brother) was last seen alive. And Jughead, the comic’s asexual cheeseburger fiend, is played by the hotter Sprouse twin. He eats only one burger the entire first season.

Obviously, I have Season 2 suggestions.

1. Archie, please retire (at singing)

In the comics, Archie has a band called The Archies, but for the most part, The Archies really only make an appearance when reruns of 1960s and 1970s comics are placed into modern-day editions as space-fillers.

On Riverdale, Archie sings 80 times per episode, which everyone in the town claims is a time suck that’s distracting him from his football career. When Josie and the Pussycats, the town’s best and possibly only all-girl musical trio, take Archie under their wing, and he eventually writes them a song called “All For Me,” it’s one of the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever seen on TV. My life’s work of destigmatizing some essential aspects of femininity is over. Archie, you broke me. Reclaim your masculinity. Go play football.

2. Make way for Reggie

Historically, Reggie Mantle, another scion of a prestigious Riverdale family, is a crucial member of the gang. Not so on Riverdale.

Remember the legendary “Sticky Maple” episode of Riverdale, in which Betty tries to cook a male classmate alive in a hot tub for spreading a rumor that he… ejaculated on Veronica? Still not sure what a “sticky maple” is. Anyway, Reggie only appears in this episode to whoop it up with his boys about sexual assault, and then he disappears for most of the show.

With the Season 2 recasting of Reggie, a widely circulated and important piece of news that broke in May, Riverdale should retcon him into the core gang. I’d like for Kevin Keller, Archie’s first openly gay character, to be part of the gang, too. He basically only functions as an earpiece for Veronica (who once said that in her former life as an NYC It Girl she loved going to the club with her “best gays”), but the more the merrier, I guess.

3. Please stop with the big construction plotline because nobody can follow the big construction plotline

On Riverdale, 50 percent of the action is devoted to a plotline about the movie theater where Jughead secretly lives and how it’s being sold to an anonymous buyer to create a new development called SoDale (South Riverdale). Riverdale’s gang, The South Side Serpents, who are meant to be terrifying but the worst we’ve ever seen them do is eat popcorn rowdily during a movie, have some stake in it. It’s boring and confusing, and only exists to give Luke Perry, who plays Archie’s dad, something to do.

Every weekend during Season 1, my beloved boyfriend would host something called Riverdale Brunch, where we’d gather in Bushwick (which is basically SoDale) to potluck and watch the series. Every weekend, I had to ask for a refresher on this construction plotline, which was once described to me via text in the following words:

Veronica’s dad, Hiram Lodge, secretly bought the land the old movie theater was on, using the Serpents as an intermediary, and gave the job to Fred Andrews, putting him at odds with Cheryl’s dad, Clifford Blossom, who hired thugs to harass his crew. He then hired the Serpents themselves to work construction. Veronica’s mom, Hermione, offered to buy Fred out to protect him from Hiram now that he’s out of prison and probably mad about his wife getting that hot hot 90210 dick.

Hard to fact check, and I still don’t get it.

4. Have an influential Hollywood type discover Jughead’s novel and suggest he turn it into… a comic

Hot Jughead has been sitting inside of Pop’s (Riverdale’s Luke’s) typing on his computer all season. Betty calls this document a “novel,” but I’m not so sure. As a creative writing MFA student, attempting to write a novel and being forced to reckon with questions like, Who is the audience?, and, Why did the author make this choice regarding form?, I hold Jughead to the same standard. I don’t think he’s really writing a novel because you can’t write a book and narrate it as yourself contemporaneous to the events of your own life and call it fiction.

Still, this document needs to get into the right hands. I mean, this is good stuff:

Guilt. Innocence. Good. Evil. Life. Death. As the shadows around Riverdale deepened, the lines that separated these polar opposites blurred and distorted. “I’m guilty,” Cheryl said in biology class, but of what?

My idea: Nancy Silberkleit should cameo in the show while on a forced hiatus from her company due to her alleged illicit behavior and encounter Jughead in a booth at Pop’s. She’ll ask what this young man is writing and Jughead will say something like, “Just messing around,” and she’ll be like, “May I take a look?” And Jughead will be like, “Be my guest,” and then she’ll read it and be like, “Son, this should be…a serialized comic book.”

5. De-problematize Chuck

In the comic, Chuck Clayton is a gifted artist and a gentleman. On Riverdale, he’s the smarmy football player that Betty tries to boil alive. Chuck is one of the show’s few black male cast members and one of the few black kids in Riverdale, period. In the course of a few episodes, Chuck is suspended from school, never heard from again until Jughead’s killer birthday party.

The decision to go off-plot to reduce one of the few characters of color to a damaging sketch of himself is unforgivable and they need to fix it.

How? I don’t care! Reveal that Chuck is actually his evil cousin, or that Betty boiling him alive was a hallucination she had after her secret anti-psychotic medication interacted with something she drank. Stranger things have happened in Riverdale: for example, Cheryl wearing a wedding dress and driving gloves to her brother’s funeral.

6. Less incest, possibly

On Riverdale, Polly Cooper (Betty’s sister) and Jason Blossom (Cheryl Blossom’s dead twin brother), are cousins and she’s pregnant with his child. I also fear viewers will soon discover that Archie is also related to the Blossoms because they’re all red-headed and because at Jason’s funeral, Cheryl’s mom pet Archie’s head in a sinister fashion. Also, pretty sure Jason and his sister Cheryl were hooking up before his murder.

I know this is a lot of change to ask a teenage audience to reckon with, but if the writing and production staff listen to my simple pleas, Riverdale’s plot lines will run swifter than the Sweetwater River, with its steady gurgling and bubbling sounds soothing an entire village, a single strand of red hair floating down its delta…

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  • Lindsay D

    Great job; I agree when will Archie STOP singing.

  • Millie Lammoreaux

    I read somewhere that Kevin is a series regular in s2, so your wish has been granted! I hope this makes him less boring.

    • Millie Lammoreaux

      Also, I would say Pop’s is Riverdale’s RR Diner (Twin Peaks), MUCH more so than a Luke’s. But, I hate Gilmore Girls and am devoted to TP and Riverdale’s homage to it, so ¯_(ツ)_/¯

      • Jade

        Or the Peach Pit in the original 90210.

        I also hate Gilmore Girls.

  • Bmo

    Archie just needs to stop everything. He is so selfish I can’t handle it.

    Also, I desperately hope Cole Sprouse learns how to act. Love hot Jughead #bettersprouse

    • Bmo

      Update from last night’s episode: Still can’t act; still cute as hell

      • Alice

        Shhh don’t make him go away from my TV.

  • Alice

    Ugh Archie is so annoying. Which is a bummer because KJ seems like such a nice dude and his NZ accent is so great.

    Can this show be just Jughead and Cheryl? Cheryl’s hair is absolutely perfect and she’s so over the top, it’s so great. I had no idea who the Sprouse brothers were but Cole is so attractive.


    • Bmo

      omg everytime they did a mascara closeup I cackled. so obvious.

      • Alice

        How about that scene when Betty’s mom says she’s not “bad girl red shade name” and is instead “good girl subtle pink shade name”. I don’t know how I’m alive, I died in second hand embarrassment.

  • Emma

    oh how i fucking love this show, a truly guilty pleasure minus the GUILT

    here’s a fun video of season 1-bloopers from IMDB

    and in yes, Archie is even MORE young-boy-silly in real life haahaha, even the director asks him to focus. I love BTS!!!

  • Veronica Lodge

    *is silently offended because Dylan is the hotter Sprouse twin*

  • Akosua Adasi

    More Reggie yes! Less construction and weird incest, please! Honestly tho sometimes it’s Riverdale’s biggest problems that make it good

    • Alice

      It’s “so bad it’s good” phenomenon.

  • Petra Brisby

    Can’t wait for the second season, which starts tomorrow on Netflix in UK 🙂
    xx Petra

  • Dymond Moore

    I’ve been wanting archie to stop singing since the first time!!! Also glad they got rid of the very problematic “teacher/student affair” thing because it wasn’t helping the plot at all. Here’s hoping they keep the sex/makeout scenes super minimal like last season. I bought my Riverdale Vixens HBIC tee from Hot Topic and I’m ready to watch!

  • Riverdale is definitely one of my primary Netflix guilty pleasures. I am really looking forward to the next season and I hope they will indeed listen to some of your suggestions – they are great.

  • Gracie

    Perfect article. I also loved Archie Comics and the term “offensively G rated” describes them so well that I just had to stop reading and laugh for a bit. I think Archie will stop singing because now he has angst, which might mean he’s involved in the actual plot of the show…but I can only dream.

  • Jay

    Buhuhuh. Didn’t know there were comics on that one?! Anyone an idea where to get them?

    Well… Riverdale… for me it is kinda this „it‘s bad but I love it“ things?! I don‘t understand the plot at all. What is Cheryl up to and why does she try to kill herself of someone else or both every episode?! Why does Betty wear the same ponytail each day? (Though, well… I am not much of variety in the hair department either… but normally the stylists are bigger on that…) By the way, is she good, is she bad?! What is she… to me she seems to be some weird version of Gossip Girls Selena?! And What is it about Polly after all?! Where does she come from? What does she want? (Utterly creepy character…) And the secret brother?! This family is a misters to me… And why is Veroncia being presented as a robot who does not have any connection to her feelings? Though she got style…

    But I watched it today and am excited. Big love. Still dont have answers to my questions, but loved the mimosa scene (I have a thing for her…)

    But all he weird flashbacks or future or whatever scenes?! Help! What is the plot!!!!

    Please enlighten me if you understand more than I do. Or maybe it just doesn’t matter…

    Or just follow „how to get away with murder“ seems simpler…

    (By the way: Did anyone watch glow?! I loooooove that one)

  • pamb

    I am just dying because last night Archie drove a car and the voiceover said “even though he doesn’t know how to drive.” That means they are supposed to be 15? Come on, now. I watch Riverdale with my 16 year old and we had to stop the show, we were screaming so loudly. Talk about suspension of disbelief…

  • Sam Stanley

    u know how animals can b so ugly they’re cute, this show is so terrible that its good idk if that’s what they were going for but it works.

  • I have never seen Riverdale so I have no idea what is going on but I read this entire article and now I still have no idea what’s going on but it seems like a bizarrely fun mess to get into

  • wilhelmina

    Just getting around beginning this show this week, and OMG what a hilarious article.

    -“it’s one of the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever seen on TV. My life’s work of destigmatizing some essential aspects of femininity is over. Archie, you broke me. Reclaim your masculinity. Go play football.”

    -“…The South Side Serpents, who are meant to be terrifying but the worst we’ve ever seen them do is eat popcorn rowdily during a movie…”

    – The excerpt you chose from Jughead’s “book”

    -“the smarmy football player that Betty tries to boil alive”

    -“pretty sure Jason and his sister Cheryl were hooking up before his murder.”

    THANK you for this.