Late Friday night, approximately 15 minutes after I finished watching the Riverdale finale, I was so deep into creeping Cole Sprouse’s Instagram account, I accidentally liked a photo from December 2015. I was saving photos like this one to my phone, on purpose, for no good reason.
I was texting my friends, who were out living their lives, heart emojis and all caps declarations of love for a f-cking Sprouse twin. It’s wrong. I know it’s wrong. It’s so so wrong but I don’t want to be right. After 13 episodes, Riverdale has officially turned me into an obsessive teenager and I’m not mad at it. I’m mad at Riverdale for other reasons we’ll get to, but my newfound crush on Cole Sprouse (he’s 24; I’m not THAT gross OK) is not one of them. Jughead Jones has earned my adoration.
When I wrote about Riverdale around mid-season, I mentioned that Sprouse was slowly coming into his own as Jughead but the object of my teenage dreams at the time was KJ Apa – well, KJ Apa’s abs. As Riverdale’s first season progressed, KJ Apa’s Archie went from intriguing leading man to a cardboard cut-out of an intriguing leading man. He still looks great but he’s got the depth of a Katy Perry song. Can we all agree that heading into the finale, Archie was the f-cking WORST? In the season’s second last episode, Jason Blossom’s murderer was finally revealed. To recap, the show’s major murder mystery was Who Killed Jason Blossom? The reveal was a big moment. The whole gang is sitting in front of a laptop, watching Jason get brutally murdered. Cole Sprouse is silently weeping into his hands and every muscle in his face is devastating. Meanwhile, KJ Apa looks like he’s sneaking glances at his cast mates to see if he too should be emoting. KJ Apa’s limitations as an actor have been exposed while Cole Sprouse’s potential seems limitless.
There were, however, two scenes in the finale that gave me hope for Archie Andrews in Season 2. If you’ve seen the episode, you know which two scenes I’m referring to. I didn’t know watching someone pound a block of ice with their bare fists could turn me on but now I do. Archie is at his best when he’s doing something physical – making out with Miss Grundy/Valerie/Veronica, walking shirtless, pounding ice— and when he’s exploring his complex relationship with his parents, which brings me to the second scene that might make Archie interesting in Season 2. In the episode’s stunning final sequence, Archie’s father Fred, played by Luke Perry, is *SPOILER* gunned down in the middle of Pop’s diner. I’m a big fan of Fred Andrews and not just because he’s Dylan McKay but IF Fred doesn’t make it out of Pop’s alive, maybe this tragedy will unearth a darkness in Archie that will finally bring out KJ Apa’s range – if he has any, that is. We’ve seen how well the daddy issues plot has worked with Jughead and FP Jones. Season 2 is when KJ Apa needs to prove he’s more than just a pretty face.
The last time I wrote about Riverdale, I wished for more of the classic Archie/Betty/Veronica love triangle we’re all familiar with. In the season’s final few episodes, I got my wish – sort of. The triangle is more of a love square. Jughead and Betty seem to be the couple we’re supposed to root for. In the finale, when Jughead says, “I love you Betty Cooper,” it was the first time I believed them as a legit OTP (that’s One True Pairing for those of you not well-versed in the vernacular of teen TV fandom) and I don’t think that’s just my Cole crush talking. The way he delivered that line though? Swoon. Betty and Jughead are star crossed lovers from opposite ends of town, divided by social standing and class, drawn together by shared feelings of isolation and loneliness. It’s all super sweet until Jughead switches schools and interrupts a HOT makeout scene to casually join the same gang that sent his father to jail. That’s not going to end well. So, if Betty and Jughead don’t make it through Season 2, where does that leave Archie and Veronica? Archie clearly has a thing for Betty now that she’s moved on because he’s the ultimate f-ckboi while Veronica is over here talking about soulmates 30 seconds after she and Archie make their relationship official.
Let’s talk about how Riverdale is doing Veronica Lodge a major disservice. After starting as a witty, independent, caring ex-mean girl, Veronica has turned into a whiny, clingy shell of her former self. This tweet sums up most of her dialogue in the final episodes.
anyone on Riverdale: help me, i'm dying.— Gena-mour Barrett (@SmileGena) May 8, 2017
Veronica Lodge: this is because of my dad isn't it? My dad, Hiram Lodge, paid you to say that. pic.twitter.com/FfEVSlWuRd
Ugh, don’t even get me started on Hiram Lodge. Veronica’s entire personality has been reduced to pining after Archie or worrying about her father’s shady dealings. In fact, all of the girls of colour on Riverdale are not living up to their potential. The Pussycats, Melody, Josie and Valerie were glorified props in the finale, taking a backseat to Archie’s mediocre, buzzkill song. Valerie walks in on Archie making out with Veronica and does NOTHING. Sure, she broke up with Archie but as my friend Denise pointed out, the writers wrote that scene like Valerie didn’t have a pulse.
Angelica Jade Bastien wrote a must-read piece for Vulture called “Why Do Teen Dramas Like Riverdale Keep Sidelining Black Female Characters?” that breaks down just how underused Josie and the Pussycats have been this season. Riverdale will be a lot more interesting if the best storylines don’t just go to straight white guys who look good in white tank tops.
Lainey and Duana have a segment in their podcast called “Do we need to care about…” I would argue that even if you aren’t watching this weird, wonderful, confusing, sometimes infuriating show, you need to start caring about Cole Sprouse. I guarantee that he’s hanging in more than a few teen girls’ and boys’ high school lockers. I would even go so far as to ask: is Cole Sprouse this generation’s Luke Perry? Are we fighting? My final appeal to pull you all down to my level is this:
I’m disgusting. I know. But don’t pretend you aren’t spending your Monday admiring Cole Sprouse’s photography skills and trying not to accidentally double tap any photos from 2015.
Attached - Cole Sprouse and the cast of Riverdale at PaleyLive last month.