Riverdale is my newest obsession. It is a show that revels in being campy, overly melodramatic, and absolutely bonkers. There have been plotlines and reveals so insane that I’m still trying to process them, weeks later. If you haven’t been watching, please enjoy a rundown of the best weird (or weirdest best) moments and storylines the show has offered so far.
Riverdale burned through this plot much, much faster than I expected, given how much time it got in the previews. So, the deal was that Ms. Grundy, who in the comics was an extremely old lady, was now, in the TV show, a hot, young music teacher who happened across a sweaty, shirtless Archie walking home one summer. She both encouraged her student’s love of music and, you know, had sex with him, which was absolutely a crime. (I swear, shows need to stop romanticizing this kind of thing.)
And I really, really thought the show was going to keep this scandalous relationship as a major plot for the entire season, but NOPE. Betty and Veronica found about it in episode four, at which point they also break into Ms. Grundy’s car and discover that Ms. Grundy is not actually Ms. Grundy at all—she stole that identity from an old lady—and also carries a gun.
From there, it was a short step to Betty’s awful mom discovering Archie’s secret and telling Archie’s dad and confronting the faux Grundy herself—not to stop the teacher’s sexual abuse of her student, but mainly in an attempt to make Archie look bad in front of her daughter. Ms. Grundy decides her best course of action is to leave Riverdale immediately, at which point literally everyone seems to have forgotten this was a thing.
Whatever Jughead’s family was in the comics, ignore it. Because in the reality of Riverdale, Jughead’s family is ridiculous. His mother is nowhere to be found. We see a picture of his sister, but we haven’t actually seen her yet, but there’s an ominous sense about her (yes, there’s an ominous sense about everyone in Riverdale, but whatever). His father was fired by Archie’s dad for stealing from his construction company. So, naturally, he turned to a life of crime and, as a 45-year-old, appears to have joined Rivedale’s gang of bikers and street toughs. Oh, and Jughead’s father is played by Skeet Ulrich.
Also, Jughead is homeless and I don’t know if anyone actually knows that other than his dad, who doesn’t actually care.
One of the great joys of Riverdale is watching people keep a straight face while having very serious conversations about maple syrup. Yes, maple syrup is the industry that built Riverdale, and that makes every, single, reference to the old families of Riverdale and their piles of money hilarious—the two main ones being the Coopers, Betty’s family, and the Blossoms, who have managed the impressive feat of having the most screwed up kid in Riverdale in Cheryl Blossom (even before her twin brother Jason was murdered, which kicked the show off).
The reason the Coopers and the Blossoms hate each other is just the best: Cheryl’s great-grandfather killed Betty’s great grandfather so he could get all the maple syrup profits. So now there’s, like, a blood feud between the families, that Betty somehow is only just now begun learning about.
When Riverdale begins, Betty’s older sister Polly has been gone for months, seemingly sent away to some sort of sanitarium after a breakdown that Betty’s parents clearly blame Jason Blossom for. As the season has gone on, everyone sort of suspected that the actual reason that the Coopers sent Polly away was because she was pregnant. Two weeks ago, it became really obvious when her dad said that Polly was “sick” and would be staying away until she wasn’t “sick anymore.”
Last week’s episode confirmed it and added that on the day Jason disappeared, Polly had planned to run away with him. Instead, the Coopers discovered what she was up to and sent her to “Quiet Mercy,” a troubled teens home that sounds like it would be the ideal setting for a season of American Horror Story. However, when Betty finally finds her at the home, she’s forced to tell Polly the news that Jason is dead, at which point Polly loses it, later escaping from the home that night. So while Polly is definitely pregnant, that doesn’t mean for certain that she’s entirely sane.
Oh, and Jughead and Betty found the car Jason was going to use to escape with Polly and it is full of drugs. When they try to show it to law enforcement, it explodes because the teenagers are being followed.
Veronica’s mom Hermione is in some sort of real estate scheme where she bribes the mayor to purchase some key Riverdale land on the secret behalf of her husband Hiram, currently in jail for many, many shady financial dealings. He obviously didn’t learn anything, because he has Hermione pay Riverdale’s local gang, the Southside Serpents, to make trouble in the area to drive down the price. Apparently the Serpents want a bit more money for their troubles, because one day at work (as a waitress in Pop’s Diner, of course), Hermione receives this:
Also, the land that the Lodges buy includes the local drive-in, where Jughead was literally living. So Jughead’s dad helped kick him out of his non-home for cash.
Beyond the Coopers and the Blossoms having a blood feud, Hermione Lodge and Archie’s dad Fred Andrews shared a romantic past when they were younger. That won’t make anything weird for their kids, I’m sure. And we already know that Archie’s mom—who left Riverdale years ago to “follow her dreams”—has been cast and will be showing up at some point, so I’m certain that she has even more connections to the various awful parents of Riverdale, and that will explode all over the place.
Cheryl gets an entry to herself. From wearing matching white outfits when she and her brother went out on the water to wearing this to sleep in her dead brother’s bed, she’s just bananas:
Look, I’m not saying she was fucking her brother. But she was absolutely fucking her brother.
Cheryl also showed up to her brother’s memorial service wearing all-white. In the pilot, she memorialized her brother by introducing the song they were conceived to. She speaks in hashtags. She just... decides to join Veronica and Kevin at the drive-in movie, jumping into their car with no explanation, despite heaping scorn on them on countless previous occasions. Everything about Cheryl is completely ridiculous and I kind of love her.
Every episode of Riverdale gets progressively weirder and more fun in its weirdness. Everyone should start watching it now before everything gets so convoluted that it’ll be impenetrable. Do it, or I’ll somehow put a snake in a cardboard box in the middle of your workplace without you noticing.