Archie and the gang at Riverdale have seen quite a few changes in the last few years, from a zombie invasion to a complete redesign of the characters to a planned movie and then a network-hopping TV series. It seems like what was once considered the dorky younger brother of the superhero comics at Marvel and DC has finally come into its own.
Archie is, at its heart, a story about an all-American guy who has spent the last 75 years trying to decide between a blonde and a brunette while his goofy friend Jughead primarily concerns himself with the acquisition of hamburger sandwiches. It is a YA story that has withstood the test of time, and with YA adaptations being all the rage in television and cinema right now, it’s no surprise that The CW is adding the Archie adaptation Riverdale to its lineup. One of the big questions, though, is who will be playing the live-action versions of Archie and his pals.
The way is over now — at least partially — as it has been announced who will be playing Betty and Jughead. Betty will be played by Lili Reinhart, and Jughead will be played by Cole Sprouse. Reinhart has previously appeared on Law and Order: SVU, The Kings of Summer, and the short-lived FOX sitcom Surviving Jack. Sprouse is best known for starring with his twin brother Dylan in Disney’s The Suite Life with Zack and Cody and its follow up series, The Suite Life on Deck.
Those are two interesting choices to play updates on these familiar characters, especially given the character descriptions that were released late last year:
Betty Cooper – The blonde and pretty sophomore is described as having “some self-esteem issues and affinity for Adderall.” Eager-to-please, wholesome and studious, Betty has a super-crush on her longtime best bud, Archie. But tired of being the “perfect” everything, she turns to her new friend, Veronica, for life advice. Betty has an emotionally brittle mom, a goth-like sister and a coveted spot on the cheerleading squad — though with certain conditions….
Jughead Jones – A hearing-impaired actor is being sought to play Jughead as an “eom-heartthrob.” The lanky lad is Archie’s former best friend, seeing as the two still are smarting from a rift that took place between them. Angry, but with a philosophical bent, Jughead “refuses to take the olive branch being proffered by Archie, the hurt goes that deep.”
Those descriptions seemingly give the actors a lot to work with, especially Sprouse, who not only has to deal with Jughead and Archie’s falling out, but also — potentially — depicting a character who is hearing impaired. How he plans to manage the whole “emo-heartthrob” thing will also be reason to keep an eye on the show. Meanwhile, Reinhart will have an opportunity to take a stab at a version of Betty that has not really been seen before, and possibly give the long-standing character the sort of modern-day overhaul that is a hit with fans both new an old.
For those who are unfamiliar with this update of the comic series, the official Archie Comics website has released a synopsis of the upcoming TV series:
“The live-action series offers a bold, subversive take on Archie, Betty, Veronica, and their friends, exploring small-town life and the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome facade. The show will focus on the eternal love triangle of Archie Andrews, girl-next-door Betty Cooper, and rich socialite Veronica Lodge, and will include the entire cast of characters from the comic books—including Archie’s rival, Reggie Mantle, and his slacker best friend, Jughead Jones.”
Is the world ready for a “bold, subversive” take on the Archie comics? More adult reboots of series once geared towards children have been in the news recently, so Riverdale is definitely part of an ongoing trend. The target demographic for The CW is young enough to both appreciate the series’ young adult themes and not be too well-versed in its lengthy history, so the timing may be right for the series to find an audience. Will the show finally resolve the decades-old Betty vs. Veronica debate, though? That seems less likely.
Screen Rant will keep you updated on Riverdale as development continues.