Riverdale has always been known for pushing the envelope — but there is still one story line that was deemed too much for the show.
During the series finale, which aired on Wednesday, August 23, Riverdale revealed that Betty (Lili Reinhart), Archie (KJ Apa), Veronica (Camila Mendes) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) were in a quad romance during their senior year of high school. Betty said she hooked up individually with Archie, Jughead and Veronica, noting that the others explored their various connections as well. Archie and Jughead, however, were notably missing from the romantic montage, which included makeout scenes for every other possible pairing (including Betty and Veronica).
“I mean, that’s, like, too hot for TV,” Riverdale producer Sarah Schechter told Variety on Wednesday of why the two men didn’t kiss on screen. “I don’t think there was a reason for it. I think there’s a fantastic, fantastic amount of LGBTQ representation on the show.”
Fans quickly took to social media to question the decision as some pointed out that Riverdale alluded to Archie being interested in men through his offscreen threesome with Reggie (Charles Melton) earlier in the season. Meanwhile, other viewers brought up showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa‘s history with the Archie Comics.
In 2003, Aguirre-Sacasa’s play titled Archie’s Weird Fantasy was scheduled to debut at Dad’s Garage Theatre Company in Atlanta. The script explored Archie’s sexuality as he came out and moved to New York. Days before the play was set to open, Archie Comics issued a cease and desist order, threatening litigation if the project proceeded as written.
Dad’s Garage artistic director Sean Daniels issued a statement in response, telling local outlet Off Script, “The play was to depict Archie and his pals from Riverdale growing up, coming out and facing censorship. Archie Comics thought if Archie was portrayed as being gay, that would dilute and tarnish his image. They said in the script, they counted seven copyright infringements that would each cost $150,000 in fines. We never expected to face a million-dollar bill if we put on the show.”
Archie’s Weird Fantasy ultimately opened as Weird Comic Book Fantasy without any mention of the characters from the graphic novels. Aguirre-Sacasa later developed Riverdale for The CW and became the chief creative officer at Archie Comics.
Following Riverdale’s series finale, Schechter also addressed why none of the popular couples ended up together. (Betty, Archie, Jughead and Veronica went their separate ways after high school and seemingly didn’t keep in touch.)
“I think anyone who tells you there was always a plan, they’re lying. From the beginning, we had so many conversations about not wanting this to be retro in the wrong ways, and not wanting to be reductive in the wrong way. There’s this core of Archie Comics about family, town, growing up and everything universal, but there was always Archie picking between two girls,” she told Variety. “I think we made a really conscious effort to step away from that in the pilot, and have maintained that throughout. So I think it was modern and fitting.”
Schechter added: “Each of these characters have such big lives that they were meant to lead — I do think it was such a brave and interesting choice. Them not ending up together, in a way, is more honest. It also helps you remember that each one of these relationships is equally important in its moment. If anyone ended up with anyone, it would say somehow that it’s more powerful. There’s a maturity to it that I love so much. A person’s life isn’t who they end up with. It’s deeper and more meaningful than that.”