After seven sprawling seasons, Riverdale is about to come to an end next week, on August 23. Even though it has only been in my life for six years, they were formative ones, spanning the second half of my twenties and into the early parts of my thirties. The intensity of my obsession has ebbed and flowed through the years but never diminished completely. I’m struck by how sad I am by its impending departure; I didn’t expect to feel this way.
Vulture‘s exit interview with the main cast captures a lot of why this show, for all its absurdness, genuinely means so much to me. I don’t think viewers — especially casual ones who popped in and out over the course of the series — always totally understood what Riverdale was doing. People who only experienced the show by way of social media certainly didn’t. But this exit interview makes it clear that the people involved in the show, including the actors, all understood exactly what they were doing. Riverdale is a playground; Riverdale is, in many ways, an actor’s dream job, allowing them to push themselves episode after episode with little by way of rules and constraints. For example, none of them ever had to prove they could sing at any stage of the audition process. None of them expected to ever sing on the show at all. Then the first musical episode happened, then another, then more, until the show started working casual song and dance numbers into episodes not even branded as musical ones. Riverdale was constantly reinventing itself — sometimes mid-episode. And it has been a thrill to watch these young stars grow up inside of that wild world.
Among the many gems in the exit interview is a sweet moment from Madelaine Petsch and Vanessa Morgan, whose Cheryl Blossom and Toni Topaz comprise one of the show’s many longtime, on-and-off romantic relationships, referred to by shippers as Choni. While some cast members share their (rightful) frustration toward some of the more intense reactions they received from shippers through the years (Cole Sprouse mentions getting death threats), Petsch chimes in to say that on the other side of things, she and Morgan actually received a lot of positive energy from shippers regarding Choni. “On the other side,” she says, “Vanessa and I have a very specific relationship, Choni, and we get a lot of support.”
“I’ve been grateful for it,” Morgan adds in the interview.
Later, when asked about the sexualization of their characters, all of the cast members candidly open up about struggling with body image over the course of the show. Petsch once again brings up another side of things though and talks about how she and Morgan actually advocated for more sexual Choni moments. She says:
Being in a female-female relationship on the show was interesting because Vanessa and I were the biggest supporters of having more sexual encounters on the show. And I feel like some people were scared of that. In season three, she and I just decided with a director to put in this sex scene that wasn’t there. And that, I think, broke the barrier of allowing us to be more like the other couples on the show. I felt it was really important for our particular relationship.
I love that Petsch, Morgan, and one of the series’ directors came together to add in a sex scene on their terms. There were times early on in Cheryl and Toni’s relationship where they were almost portrayed simultaneously as too chaste and too adult, living together like a married couple but rarely seen getting up to the same horny antics as the other ships. I like hearing that Petsch and Morgan prioritized allowing Cheryl and Toni to visibly act on their desires in the same ways other couples do on the show.
But perhaps my favorite moment of the interview is when Lili Reinhart — whose Betty Cooper has been on a fascinating queer journey this season that I’ve been meticulously tracking — succinctly articulates so much of what I feel about this show:
I think it’s important to acknowledge that our show is made fun of a lot. People see clips taken out of context and are like, What? I thought this was about teenagers. And we thought so as well—in season one. But it’s really not been easy to feel that you’re the butt of a joke. We all want to be actors; we’re passionate about what we do. So when the absurdity of our show became a talking point, it was difficult. It is What the fuck? That’s the whole point. When we’re doing our table reads and something ridiculous happens, Roberto is laughing because he understands the absurdity and the campiness.
WHAT THE FUCK. Is. The. Whole. Point. Say that, Lili!
Vulture also just published an unofficial Riverdale yearbook full of film shots from behind the scenes. I may or may not have teared up!!!!!!!! And of course, I also have to shoutout one of my all-time favorite Riverdale features, also published by Vulture: What Temperature Is It in ‘Riverdale’? We will simply never know. And that? Is beautiful.