Let’s get this out of the way first: I love the everloving fuck out of Riverdale. I refuse to call it a guilty pleasure because that would imply I have some kind of sheepish embarrassment about how I am enjoying this latest incarnation of the Archie transmedia property, when I have no such hangups whatsoever. I had only limited experience with the original Archie comics, but became fascinated by its endless spinoff series and alternate universes, like The Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. (a parody of 1960s spy shows), Super Teens (where the main cast got superpowers, obviously), and the very weird and meta The Might Archie Art Players (which revolved around a concept not unlike DC’s Elseworlds, where each character would be playing a role in another story). In more recent incarnations, the series has gotten increasingly weird and dark, from Afterlife with Archie (a zombie apocalypse alternate universe, because of course) and Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson’s Jughead.
And now there’s Riverdale, which reinvents the series as a tense, stylized teen drama/murder mystery. As a work of adaptation, it’s a fascinating show. This universe’s Jughead is the show’s brooding narrator, his trademark crown-like hat now a strange knit toque. The doddering Miss Grundy of the comics is now Archie’s sexually exploitative music teacher, whose abusive relationship with Archie forms some of the key conflict of the early episodes. The (often oversimplified) rivalry between Betty and Veronica is portrayed as an incredibly complex and often mutually supportive friendship, one which often had me wishing that they would just date each other or straight-up both date Archie and become a happy triad. The choices that have been made in service of the show’s small-town-deep-secrets multi-layered scandals are not always perfect, but they are always fascinating.
Riverdale is also a show that seems to genuinely love its fans, and it has already given us many gifts. One of my absolutely favourite nods to fans of teen dramas is the decision to cast former stars of some of the most beloved examples of the genre in key roles. Luke Perry’s portrayal of Archie’s father, Fred Andrews, is not only spot on, but a loving gesture to everyone who adored Beverly Hills, 90210 in the 90s. Skeet Ulrich’s appearance as Jughead’s biker-gang-ruling criminal father is a sheer delight for all of us who cheered when that fucker got his comeuppance in The Craft. When Molly goddamn Ringwald of John Hughes legend showed up as Archie’s estranged mother, it was clear that Riverdale knew exactly who its fans were and was devoted to giving them the weird, twisted nostalgia that they crave.
Now that Season 2 has been greenlit, speculations are a-booming about what manner of dark secrets, terrible crimes and other shenanigans we have to look forward to. But we’re also wondering what other stars of 90s teen dramas of the small and big screen will grace the second season with their presence.
If anyone’s taking requests, I have a few
Jason Priestly as Mr. Flutesnoot
Perhaps they’ll go with the more contemporary spelling of Fludsnüt for Riverdale, but there’s something about Priestly’s long-suffering expression that would make him perfect for a chemistry professor whose lab keeps blowing up. Elmer Benjamin Flutesnoot has also been know to take on the role of band teacher from time to time, and Archie needs some additional musical guidance after the debacle with Grundy.
Alicia Silverstone at Sara Bellum
Look, we think everyone is Riverdale needs some damn therapy, so Jughead’s canonical counsellor would certainly have her work cut out for her. Alicia Silverstone has the warmth to do the role justice and is very good at playing a character who would be underestimated.
Selma Blair as Gladys Jones
We haven’t met Jughead’s mom yet on Riverdale, and frankly I am fascinated to get to know the woman who has had to heal with the likes of F.P. Jones for way too goddamn long. Blair (who rose to fame after her role in Cruel Intentions) would do a hell of a job inhabiting the role of a woman whose had to become hard as nails after probably a couple of decades being haunted by the leader of the Southside Serpents.
Tiffani Thiessen as Aunt Zoey
While most of Veronica’s family, for all the scandal, is monied and sophisticated, her Aunt Zoey is a truck-driving, hard-living woman who is always ready to visit her niece on her way through town to impart some (questionable) advice. Thiessen rolling up in the cab of an 18-wheeler would be spectacular.
Devon Sawa as Mr. Jenkins
The star of Casper and Final Destination may have slipped into some obscurity in recent years, but his face still has a soulful, troubled quality that makes us think that he’d be perfect for the role of deeply overburdened Riverdale High counsellor Mr. Jenkins. Canonically, Jenkins suffers a nervous breakdown and his replacement, Mr. Grimley succumbs to ulcers, which seems consistent with the level of stress they’d encounter.
Jason David Frank as Gaston
While the Lodges have a lot to handle at the moment, and might not be as financially secure as they once were, they certainly still need (and have) staff. While we’ve met Smithers, the cook Gaston has yet to make an appearance. Instead of a high-class French chef, we think it might be interested in the Lodges employed someone who embodied a more contemporary take on the role of executive chef: heavily tattooed and rough around the edges, someone who looks like they’ve earned their knife skills in more than one way. For this role, we think Jason David Frank of Green Ranger (and Jesus Didn’t Tap) fame would be exactly the right kind of menacing.