Riverdale boss talks 'pretty hard reboot' with time jump, who's changed the most
The Riverdale time jump is upon us. After years of high school dances, musicals, and murders, last week's episode saw the Riverdale High students graduate and go their separate ways. And not only did they go away, but they also stayed away. As we saw at the end of the episode, Archie, Veronica, and Betty never honored their pact to meet up at Pop's once a year. After Jughead was stood up, he seemingly never went back either.
But all of that changes in the next episode, which sees the now-adults return home to Riverdale seven years later. EW spoke with Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa about the time jump and what's ahead for the rest of season 5.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So much of that graduation episode felt like a series finale, and then watching the next episode, if you told me this was the pilot of a Riverdale reboot, I'd believe you.
ROBERTO AGUIRRE-SACASA: Yeah, the graduation episode definitely feels like that is the end of a big story that we started in the pilot and it kind of hearkens back to when we first pitched Riverdale. Some of the executives that we pitched it to said, "So is this just a high school show?" I remember thinking, "Gosh I hope not, I hope it continues into young adulthood." It's funny, I remember back in the day saying, "To me, I think Riverdale ends when Archie has a child." But without a doubt, the graduation episode feels like a pretty big end of a chapter, and in a way, episode 4 is a pretty hard reboot, but still Riverdale-ian.
There are high school shows that did the college transition well, there are others that didn't, and then there are shows that also went the time jump route. Why was this the right route for Riverdale? What excited you all about the time jump?
We did decide very quickly because all of the kids were seemingly going to different colleges and we didn't want them to all go to, like, Riverdale University. And in terms of drama, for me, college is a less appealing version of high school stories. In terms of what we're most excited about is that after four seasons of pretty elaborate, complicated storytelling, this time jump allows us to start with a clean slate, drop in the middle of stories and then have people catch up. And it allows us to play new dynamics. Now it's not just Betty in scenes with Jughead, now it's not just Cheryl and Toni in scenes together. That's what's been exciting for the actors too, they're really excited about playing characters closer to their age.
You mention catching up with those stories, so will we be getting snippets of what went on during those seven years as the season progresses?
One hundred percent. We are going to be unpacking the seven years throughout the season and in a way, I think a theme of the season is trauma and how our different characters deal with trauma and how that kept them from fully thriving in their new lives. But we will be filling in the blanks, absolutely.
What was the experience like of not creating new characters but certainly evolving these characters in a major way? Who do you think has changed the most?
We have tried to honor who the characters were when we first met them. Archie was basically a decent kid who was trying to live up to the expectations his father had and expectations he put on himself, Veronica has married a guy that is in some ways very much like Hiram, so they've all been progressing in this direction. Betty's hunting serial killers, that feels right. Jughead's writing, that also feels right. I guess I feel like probably Veronica's circumstances have changed the most because she's married.
When it comes to them all not talking for seven years, is there a specific reason why that happened that we're going to get into this season?
I think so. With Betty and Jughead, there was a break that we will see. In my mind, part of the reason they split up is because of the Betty-Archie kiss. I think when the kiss happened, no one wanted it to ruin their last couple of weeks in high school so they hung on to get through that, but there's still fallout from that and I think that's kind of the reason. And though we will see particular details why, I think it's fallout from that kiss. It cut really deep.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.