Beginning in the 1940s, Archie Andrews and the rest of the Riverdale gang has entertained comic book readers — primarily very young ones — with their cornball, low-stakes antics. Archie, his burger-loving best friend Jughead, snooty Reggie, sweet Betty, and powerful rich kid Veronica do things like meet for burgers and malts, go to the beach, and drive around in an open-top jalopy. Archie Comics have been adapted into TV shows plenty of times, but The CW’s “Riverdale” is decidedly not their grandparents’ Archie. Reimagined as a mix between teen soaps like “The O.C.” and spooky murder-mystery shows like “Twin Peaks,” a lot of audacious and eyebrow-raising stuff goes down in the atmospheric town of Riverdale and embroiling Archie and his friends — things like murder, organized crime, drug smuggling, evil twins, gangs, and multiple cults.
“Riverdale” also allows its many characters to explore their sexuality, which results in all manner of pair-ups and hook-ups, which in turn makes for some unforgettable moments of televised, fictional affection. Here are all the times a kiss on “Riverdale” made viewers’ stomachs churn, brains metaphorically explode, or sit up and say, “What?!”
A teacher pursues a relationship with Archie
In the Archie comics, Archie Andrews was almost constantly jumping back and forth between Betty and Veronica as his romantic partner, or, to use the parlance of mid-20th century America, his number one steady girl. On “Riverdale,” he is primarily stuck with Veronica, but in the first season, one of Archie’s (K.J. Apa) storylines almost seemed to suggest to viewers that the show wasn’t afraid to go absolutely anywhere. His first romantic entanglement on the show was with Miss Grundy, his music teacher at Riverdale High School. In the comics, Miss Grundy was a gray-haired librarian who seemingly had the hots for principal Mr. Weatherbee. On “Riverdale,” Miss Grundy (Sarah Habel) was a twenty-something who engaged in torrid, graphic encounters in her car with one of her teenaged students.
Not only was their brief affair illegal, it was also gross and qualifies as a statutory assault crime. As Cosmopolitan put it, “Make no mistake, Ms. Grundy and Archie’s season 1 relationship constitutes assault and possibly rape.” When Miss Grundy is discovered by Archie’s father, she’s forced to leave her job.
“I guess that’s a really inappropriate kind of romance he has going on there,” Apa told USA Today.
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN’s National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
Betty and Veronica kiss during cheer team tryouts
In the very first episode of “Riverdale,” the show’s writers establish that being a member of Riverdale High School’s River Vixens club is a really big deal. Nearly every female character wants to be part of the cheerleading squad, which is also the pep rally squad as well as a dance team with provocative, teen-inappropriate moves that feel straight out of MTV’s “The Grind.” Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) rules over this group — which is supposed to just innocently cheer on sports teams — like she’s a crime boss. Both Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Veronica (Camila Mendes) try out to be River Vixens, but their moves are far too bland to impress the driven and jaded leader. “You haven’t seen our big finish yet,” Veronica blurts out, whispering to Betty to “not freak out” before she pulls her in for a deep, open-mouthed kiss, as the music swells and the actors are shot in romantic shadows.
Cheryl at least calls out Veronica’s cynical and smug attempt at getting attention (with an act that doesn’t have anything to do with cheerleading), quipping that “faux-lesbian kissing hasn’t been taboo since 1994.”
After the episode aired, Uproxx wrote that the “kiss should be more than a stunt” and should “mean something beyond cheap titillation of the audience for ratings.”
Veronica and Archie kiss in a shower of water and blood
“Riverdale” ended its first wild and wacky season on a sad and shocking note: Archie’s sweet, kind, and doting single dad, Fred Andrews (played by one-time Generation X teen idol Luke Perry), was gunned down in Pop’s Chock’Lit Shoppe by an unidentified assailant, hemorrhaging blood as he was seemingly about to die in his son’s arms. When “Riverdale” returned for Season 2, the action picked up where it left off — Fred survived, just barely, while Archie was left understandably shaken to his core. Archie coping with the ugly, brutally violent near-murder of his beloved parent then led to an even weirder and possibly even more unexpected moment, albeit one with a lot more naked bodies writhing around.
Only after he leaves Fred at the hospital, and then goes home to walk his dog, does Archie decide that he should maybe wash off his father’s blood that’s all over his body. It’s when he’s in the shower that burgeoning love interest Veronica comes over and they engage in some very wet physical romance. To each their own, but sloppily kissing, groping, and making love to someone hours after their dad almost died — and when his blood is circling the shower drain — isn’t the hottest of prospects. Also, as Vulture noted in an article solely about this scene, “Why does Veronica keep her pearl necklace on?”
Veronica and Jughead kiss to even the score
In the Season 2 “Riverdale” episode “The Hills Have Eyes,” core four characters Archie, Veronica, Jughead, and Betty retreat from the crime-and-angst-fueled shenanigans of Riverdale proper for a romantic getaway to a forest cabin. “Romantic getaway” is actually what Hiram Lodge calls it when he offers the trip to his daughter, Veronica, and her beloved Archiekins, which is a bit of a creepy thing for a parent to do, but then Hiram just wants those meddling kids out of the way because he’s meeting with a bunch of nefarious associates from back east just after the death of Canadian businessman Poppa Poutine.
But drama still plagues these teens on what’s supposed to be a chill weekend. Chock’lit hits the fan after Cheryl Blossom calls Jughead to stir the pot and tell him about that one time that his girlfriend, Betty, shared a furtive kiss with Archie. How does the gang deal with this cross-couple canoodling? Well, the other two not involved in that illicit encounter have to smooch in order to make things right, of course. And so, while everybody is hanging out in the hot tub, Jughead and Veronica exchange a contrived, non-romantic, workmanlike kiss, which seemingly makes everything right in the “Riverdale” world again.
Jughead and Betty are lovers but have a sibling in common
Like any good primetime soap, “Riverdale” is full of strange, secret, complicated, and forbidden romantic and sexual entanglements. This kind of show often juts up right up against taboo territory, which for a CW show in the 21st century, means quasi-incest. For most of the run of “Riverdale,” the show’s one true couple are high school sweethearts Betty Cooper and Jughead Jones, both clinging to their innocence amidst deep family drama and finding an outlet in writing and solving mysteries. Any sweetness, earnestness, and true love feelings that actors Cole Sprouse and Lili Reinhart emanate when they play their characters and kiss are undercut somewhat by some below-the-surface issues revealed over time on “Riverdale.”
About two decades ago, it would seem, Jughead’s father, F.P. Jones (Skeet Ulrich), and Betty’s mother, Alice Cooper (Madchen Amick) had a romantic thing, which makes every kiss between Jughead and Betty afterward strange. F.P. and Alice also had a secret love child named Charles (Wyatt Nash). That makes him the older half-brother of both Jughead and Betty. Of course, that doesn’t mean Jughead and Betty are related, but it just toes the line. Things get even murkier when Charles marries Chic, a former sex worker who once posed as Betty’s half-brother.
Jason and Polly are kissing cousins
One of the first of many “Riverdale” mysteries also involves some near-incest, which makes for some less-than-wholesome kissing sequences. Take Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines) and Polly Cooper (Tiera Skovbye), for example. Found dead in Sweetwater River at the beginning of “Riverdale,” Jason is depicted primarily in memories and flashbacks and as the boyfriend of Betty Cooper’s older sister, Polly. He’s a carousing jock who initially just wants to add Polly to his list of conquests, but then they truly fall in love and they get pregnant, with Polly eventually giving birth to twins named Juniper and Dagwood.
Their nostalgia-and-grief-flavored relationship isn’t quite so innocent when it comes to pass that their love was forbidden, “Romeo and Juliet”-style, by their respective families. Er just one family disapproved of the relationship. Generations prior, some of the Blossoms broke away and changed their name to Cooper to disassociate with the weird and criminal clan. This all means that Jason and Polly are (or were) third cousins.
“Very early on that was in the pitch, that it was going to be revealed that the reason the families didn’t want Jason and Polly to be together was because — though they were somewhat distantly related — they were blood relatives and of course, that’s just such a gothic trope,” EP Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told ET. “People thought that we were breaking the incest taboo with Cheryl this season, and I love that the twist isn’t that it was Cheryl and Jason, it was Jason and Polly.
Ethel thinks she's a princess and forces Jughead to kiss her
“Gryphons & Gargoyles,” an immersive fantasy role-playing game which casts a hypnotic, self-destructive spell over a number of high school students in Season 3 of “Riverdale.” Jughead is intrigued and aims to investigate by heading to the secret, unofficial “G&G” headquarters where kids engage in the game’s creepy, ritualistic, cult-like gameplay: the underground survival bunker once maintained by the late Dilton Doiley, whose death was a sacrifice to the game’s mysterious and animalistic figurehead, the Gargoyle King.
It’s inside this bunker that Jughead meets up with probably Riverdale’s most fervent G&G aficionado, Ethel (Shannon Purser), fully embodying the spirit and costume of her game character, “Princess Etheline.” Jughead plays as “Hellcaster,” and after surviving a drink from a poisoned cup (it’s all part of the unsettling game), Ethel insists that the Hellcaster kiss the Princess, meaning Jughead has to kiss her. Coerced into it by a brainwashed classmate under extremely shady circumstances while inside of a dead kid’s bunker, Jughead begrudgingly gives up a smooch.
After the Jughead and Ethel kiss happened, Bughead shippers went nuclear, and the actor behind Ethel eventually called out the trolls. “I’m not stressed about it,” she tweeted (via PopBuzz). “trust me I just wonder what these people will think in like 10 yrs when they remember their twitter and realize they insulted and attacked real human beings for their character on a tv show.”
Edgar and Evelyn Evernever aren't father and daughter
Early in Season 3 of “Riverdale,” a new and improbably named student named Evelyn Evernever (Zoe De Grand Maison) shows up at Riverdale High and almost immediately befriends Betty. She also introduces herself as both a friend of the Cooper family and the daughter of Edgar Evernever (Chad Michael Murray), the man in charge of The Farm, a supposedly pastoral and bucolic community that provides refuge to young people who need it, such as Betty’s pregnant older sister, Polly.
There are hints to the true seedy and nefarious nature of The Farm — namely that it’s a dangerous cult controlled by a wicked leader — when Evelyn sets up a chapter of the organization at Riverdale High and actively tries to recruit young members. Another disturbing revelation about The Farm: Edgar Evernever isn’t Evelyn’s father at all. The two are actually married, and Evelyn is well into her late twenties; she merely pretends to be a teen to enroll in high schools and lure new Farm members. It’s all quite unsettling then to see Edgar and Evelyn, two high-ranking cult leaders who once pretended to be a father and daughter duo, suddenly be romantically involved.
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