Originally written for Fandom Following.
I never thought this day would come. I’ve thought about the possibility, yes. I know that there has been some success in some of the outlier properties, but I never thought that the day would come when the Archie gang got their own show. Excuse me while I fangirl out about this!
Okay, let me come back to myself. Some of you might not know who the hell I’m talking about. Let me fix that.
Since 1941, Archie Andrews has been the epitome of the All-American teen. A fun-loving redhead having adventures with his next door neighbor, Betty Cooper, his food-loving best friend, Jughead Jones, and the town’s rich debutante, Veronica Lodge. Archie Comics is now celebrating its 75-year history with the chance of a live-action show for it’s titular character and every single one of his friends.
That’s right kids. Not only will it be the Archie gang showing up on Riverdale, but you’ll get Josie and the Pussycats, Cheryl Blossom, Kevin Keller, and Sabrina: The Teenage Witch, because all of it is Archie Comics canon.
Now some of you might be fans of Archie Horror’s currently running Afterlife with Archie and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, both of which are superb titles that I would recommend to any horror fan. The new TV show will more than likely not follow in the same vein as those titles, but the lead writer for the Archie Horror line, Robert Aguirre-Sacasa, is also the lead writer for Riverdale, so it’s quite possible that some of the stories will transfer over in some form.
I personally have been a bigger fan of Mark Waid’s Archie and Chip Zdarsky’s Jughead, both of which operate in the The New Riverdale-verse. It’s not that I don’t like zombies, I just find the stories much easier to get into. They also offer a lot more insight into the characters that we never used to get in the old Digest and Double Digest magazines. The recap of the older strips is also a treat.
So why am I saying all of this? I’m telling you this because you can’t talk about a TV show about the Archie gang without, at least in some parts, talking about the history of Archie Comics and where the line stands today. Do you know what it is to be writing the same comic for 75 years about the same characters, and people still read it with fervor? That’s an accomplishment.
But what I really came here to talk about is the casting.
TV Line posted the casting descriptions for the Archies last November. Originally, before I saw the casting descriptions, I wouldn’t have cared who they picked for Archie, Betty, Veronica, or Jughead. Now I am a carefree black girl who loves to see herself represented on TV, but I have no issue with telling you that I would not have cared if the live action actors were as white as they are in the comic books. However, I have had some time to rethink that opinion.
These casting descriptions aren’t bad. I especially like that they wanted a Latina for Veronica Lodge, and a hearing-impaired Jughead Jones. I don’t like that Archie and Jughead are “former” friends though, because neither of them are the type to hold grudges. Yet and still, I’m constant in my belief that whoever is chosen for Archie and Jughead will have a great chemistry for when they do become friends again anyway.
That being said, I think Veronica Lodge should be Asian-American. Hear me out: the characters in the Archie comics were created by Bob Montana who based them on people from his home town, as well as others he had met while traveling the country. The American demographic has changed since the 1940s, and the Asian-American population has grown exponentially. If the town of Riverdale is supposed to be a snapshot of contemporary America, why not represent a part of it’s population in one of the main characters in a show about characters who have always been a representative of all American teens?
Just remember, whatever ethnicity Veronica Lodge is, Reggie Mantle has to be as well. Mr. Lodge hates Archie Andrews for being a bumbling idiot, but Reggie Mantle always came off as the kind of guy that Mr. Lodge wanted for his daughter. It’s not much of a push for Reggie to also be the same race as the Lodges. Although, I am partial to a Latino Reggie Mantle, simply because.
But Eurydice, what about the Latinas? So my Puerto Rican eighth grade Spanish teacher, and Christina Aguilera, have taught me that Latinas can be blonde too. I’m not even going to bother with a whole spiel about how a Latina should be Betty Cooper. I’m just going to hit you with this: Teen Wolf casted Gage Golightly, a white woman, to play Erica Reyes, a Latina, and no one batted an eye. Why can’t Riverdale do the reverse of that? I’m just saying.
Archie Andrews has to be a redhead with freckles. At some point in Archie’s history, his parents were considered Scottish, but African-Americans also have a tendency to come light-skinned, freckled, and red-headed, so there’s that. As long as Archie Andrews is a cute ginger with a genuinely happy disposition, I don’t care what his ethnicity is.
And then there’s Jughead. I love Forsythe Pendleton Jones III, and everything he stands for. When you look up the word “unbothered”, a picture of Jughead’s resting face should be the corresponding image. Juggie was a former rich boy turned middle class bum, who loved his food and his dog. Jughead is canonically tall, lean and lazy, and we can now add hearing-impaired to that list. Jughead is the blankest of blank slates because you really only want somebody who fits that physical description, and has perfected that bored and unbothered look.
Should there be black people in the main cast? That would be awesome, but I’m also willing to settle for someone biracial or an Afro-Latinx. I just don’t want this to be a lazy casting, where we’re saddled with a ton of nepotism hires that end up wasting our time.
Honestly, the only character that I am worried about is Moose. There’s a good chance that the character might never be seen, but Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has portrayed him as an abuser before (which blew my mind at the time), so I won’t be surprised if that happens in the show.
Moose was always portrayed as a happy, but relatively dumb, jock, that had a great relationship with the school nerd, Dilton Doiley. Moose and his girlfriend, Midge, were constantly on and off throughout, and it wasn’t until Afterlife with Archie that it was implied that he might have been hitting her. Even then, that might have just been Reggie being an unreliable narrator, since he was sneaking around with Midge behind Moose’s back.
Ultimately, as I’ve said before, the main cast of Riverdale could be the four whitest kids in history and I wouldn’t care, simply because I’m used to it. I also know that the people currently running Archie Comics do a lot with killing you with a ton of diverse minor characters. Yet and still, it would be a waste if the show runners did not at least try to hire some minorities for the main cast.
If Veronica doesn’t get to be Asian, I know that there’s an Asian-American fashion-blogger on the newspaper. I just don’t know if that girl will get a developed story – especially since she comes from Mark Waid’s run – but she’s still someone to look forward to. I do, however, know that there’s a black lesbian who rides off into the sunset with her white or Latina bestfriend/secret-girlfriend in the Archie Horror comics. And if we get that Archie and Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats storyline, then that will definitely be something to tune in for.
So I have hope for Riverdale. Yes, it’ll be a CW property, but Archie was made for networks like the CW. There is literally 75 years worth of stories to pull from and adapt for contemporary television that would fit in perfectly on a network that favors romance and drama. As long as the current writing team continues to stay involved in the show, Riverdale will not fail.