Adapting the largely lighthearted and upbeat Archie comics into a teen drama for modern audiences is not a simple job. That is the task facing the writers of the upcoming Riverdale, which takes the classic Archie characters and drops them into 2017, with a show that centers around the murder of Jason Blossom. The beloved Archie characters were changed a bit to accommodate the serious and modern story, but one of the actors is fighting to keep one of the traits his character has in the comics.
Cole Sprouse is playing Jughead Jones, Archie's friend who is mostly known in the books for being lazy, wearing a crown on his head, and eating hamburgers like there's no tomorrow. While romance has always been a major element of the comics, specifically with the love triangle between Archie, Betty, and Veronica, Jughead has not had nearly as many stories involving romantic exploits. Last year, the comics finally confirmed a long-time theory that Jughead is in fact asexual.
Sprouse spoke about his desire to keep Jughead asexual at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, as reported by Hollywood Life:
"I think there’s still a lot of room in Riverdale for that. Asexuality is not one of those things in my research that is so understood at face value and I think maybe the development of that narrative could also be something very interesting and very unique and still resonate with people, and not step on anyone’s toes.
I think sexuality especially is one of those fluid things where often times we find who we are through certain things that happen in our lives. If season one is one of those events or something like that needs to happen in season one for Jughead to eventually realize that kind of narrative, I’d love to play with that too.”
For now, though, Sprouse is not getting his way. "Jughead will have romances with women … and burgers, but at the end of the day, I still had to do my job."
According to the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, asexual people often do have romantic relationships, since romance and sex are not automatically linked. Asexuality is actually a spectrum, many people define themselves as gray asexual, meaning they have some traits of asexuality but are not necessarily what people would think of as asexual. As Sprouse pointed out, sexuality is fluid.
The CW has a good record currently of including homosexual and bisexual characters on their shows, so it would make sense for them to start including asexual characters as well, to increase visibility and representation of a frequently misunderstood group of people. For his part, Sprouse plans to keep fighting for his version of Jughead to be asexual.
Riverdale will premiere on the CW Thursday, January 26 at 8 p.m. with 'Chapter One: The River’s Edge.'