On The CW series Riverdale, Archie (KJ Apa) is struggling with his feelings about the decision his father, Fred (Luke Perry), has made to finalize the divorce with Archie’s mother, Mary (Molly Ringwald). At the same time, Betty (Lili Reinhart) decides to throw Jughead (Cole Sprouse) a surprise birthday party that he definitely doesn’t want, which gives Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) the perfect opportunity to wreak havoc.
After screening the next episode, “Chapter Ten: The Lost Weekend,” at the offices of The CW in Burbank, California, co-stars KJ Apa, Cole Sprouse and Luke Perry were joined by showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to talk about the show’s various inspirations, how the Andrews men will be dealing with the return of Mary, why Jughead hates his birthday so much, what FP (Skeet Ulrich) actually stands for, whether Archie’s naivete is inherent in the character, how Cheryl Blossom fits into the overall mystery, and what viewers can expect from the season finale. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Question: This show is always compared to Twin Peaks. How do you feel about that?
ROBERTO AGUIRRE-SACASA: Riverdale is very much in dialogue with shows like Twin Peaks and with coming of age movies. When we finally landed on the formula, we did pitch it as a John Hughes via Twin Peaks mash-up. I’m really glad we came out before the new Twin Peaks came out! We’re not hiding and we’re not ashamed of that influence. That’s one of my favorite TV shows, and Sarah Schechter, another one of the executive producers, loves it. When we figured out that that was a way to separate this from other coming of age shows, we ran with it.
What’s it like to have this show really make use of its throwback quality?
COLE SPROUSE: The casting, the setting and the feeling of the show rides a fine line between the old and the new. One of the primary themes is nostalgia. Being that it’s an Archie comics property, nostalgia seems to be the thing that people enjoy quite a bit of. For the actors, the settings, the feelings, the cars and the atmospheric fog, if people find that nostalgia in interesting ways, and see it filtered through every scene and every location, it’s something beautiful.
AGUIRRE-SACASA: We’re so blessed by all of the actors in the show. Everyone was cast because they felt like the perfect embodiment of their character on the show. It’s nice that Luke [Perry] did a really popular show that I liked and that a lot of our audience liked. It’s great that Skeet [Ulrich] played roles in iconic movies that I loved. But really, what it’s about is what they brought to the table for the roles of Fred and FP, and the relationships that they’re creating with their sons. So, it’s a nice thing and it’s nice that people feel warm towards the characters, and it’s nice when Mary appears and it’s Molly Ringwald. That does give us a shorthand, but it all has to work, on every level.
How will the Andrews men be dealing with the return of Mary in Riverdale?
LUKE PERRY: Fred is scared to death of it, to tell you the truth. It’s just Archie and Fred, and they’re in that house. It’s been that way. It took Fred a really long time to be okay with that and to rise to the challenge of single parenthood, and now that could all go away and come crashing down. That would leave him without an identity because that’s what he’s all about.
KJ APA: Archie loves both his dad and his mom, but there’s definitely a part of him that, for a minute, wants his parents to get back together again. He sees his mom at home again in Riverdale, and it brings back all these memories of them being a proper family. That was ideal to him. But, the thought of him leaving Riverdale and his friends is a little bit too much.
Jughead isn’t happy that Betty wants to celebrate his birthday. Why does Jughead hate his own birthday so much?
SPROUSE: I think it’s just because the attention is all on him. There are probably some deeper underlying psychologies behind it, but I think he’s one of those characters that is a little bit vain and considers himself to be a little better than the people he surrounds himself with. When he’s thrust into this super normal, conformist idea of an American party, that complicates a lot of that. I also think he’s an introvert, so he’s nervous around large groups of people, and the attention being all on him is something he has a distaste for.
Are you going to reveal what FP stands for?
AGUIRRE-SACASA: It’s in the comic books.
SPROUSE: It’s Jughead’s name, as well.
AGUIRRE-SACASA: In Episode 7, where Jughead is falsely arrested, there were really long discussions about whether his police record would say Jughead Jones or his real name, which we have not yet revealed.
SPROUSE: It’s Forsythe Pendelton Jones II and III.
Will Forsythe Pendelton Jones I show up?
AGUIRRE-SACASA: Good question! Is the first alive?
Archie has gotten flack for being too gullible. Do you feel like that naivete is inherent in the character?
APA: Yeah, and it’s also associated with the problems that he’s dealing with. All his mates are going through things with their parents. Although Archie is trying to help his friends, the whole football and music thing was the main storyline for him, until his mom came home. And then, there’s all the stuff with Jason Blossom.
PERRY: He was raised by good parents. He’s not jaded. He didn’t get a smart phone until much later. We kept him away from social media. He’s a sensible young man.
SPROUSE: Archie is the figurehead of the Riverdale universe, but we’re going in a new direction with the Riverdale universe.
AGUIRRE-SACASA: In my heart, I’m a huge Archie fanatic. I believe that Archie is the hero, and not the anti-hero of Riverdale. There’s a little bit of an innate goodness and optimism in there that could be perceived as earnest or naive, but I’m glad he’s out there.
Where does Cheryl Blossom fit into this mystery?
AGUIRRE-SACASA: Every show should have a character like Cheryl Blossom, who can be driven by many complex and often contradictory impulses, especially when you’ve got an actress like Madelaine [Petsch] doing it. The biggest loss, in a way, is Cheryl’s. She loved her brother and her brother loved her, and that’s been taken away from her. In a weird way, even though we’re following Jughead and Betty’s investigation of the crime, what’s pulsing underneath is always that this essential part of Cheryl’s life is gone. Even though she’s not investigating, I feel like there’s a deep question and an empty void in her that has to be answered and filled, especially in Episodes 12 and 13. She’s chaotic. We said that she’s an agent of chaos, and she really is that. You never know when you’re going to get scorpion Cheryl, or somebody who’s really, really hurt and unreachable because of that.
What can you say to tease the season finale?
AGUIRRE-SACASA: It has all of the different elements that are great about the show combined into one, meaning there’s music, there’s romance, there’s suspense and horror, and all of the different things. It’s the ultimate Riverdale episode. A lot of it will focus on the relationships – Betty and Jughead, and Archie and Veronica.
Riverdale airs on Thursday nights on The CW.