Betty and Jug­head are the heart of Riverdale

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - RACHEL CARTER

As soon as I saw pro­mos for The CW’s new show “Riverdale,” I was in­trigued. It looked mys­te­ri­ous and ro­man­tic, and I knew this was a teen show I didn’t want to miss. I was hooked from the very first scene.

The show is based loosely on the “Archie” comics we all read and loved grow­ing up. There’s red­headed Archie An­drews (KJ Apa), who turns into a gui­tar-play­ing dream­boat one sum­mer, prompt­ing the iconic love tri­an­gle be­tween Betty (Lili Rein­hart) and Veron­ica (Camila Men­des) to take off in earnest. There’s Josie and the Pussy­cats with lead singer Josephine McCoy (Ash­leigh Mur­ray) knock­ing us out with her amaz­ing voice. And there’s even Jug­head, played by Dis­ney child star Cole Sprouse, who wears his iconic hat like a se­cu­rity blan­ket. But that’s ba­si­cally where the sim­i­lar­i­ties end. Be­cause while Archie and friends have light­hearted fun in the comic books, the show is deal­ing with the mur­der of fel­low teen Jason Blos­som (Trevor Stines) and just who may have killed him.

Hon­estly, “Riverdale” is like noth­ing I’ve ever seen be­fore. Imag­ine if “Twin Peaks,” “Veron­ica Mars” and “Daw­son’s Creek” melded to­gether and were some­how based on a clas­sic comic book se­ries. Noirish, sexy and with a break­neck sto­ry­telling speed, this might be my new favourite show, mostly be­cause I can’t get enough of “Bug­head.”

“Bug­head” is the ‘ship name for Betty and Jug­head, who are cur­rently dat­ing on the show. And O.M.G. they are com­pletely adorable. I never even con­sid­ered the pos­si­bil­ity of a Betty/Jug­head pair­ing, es­pe­cially as he’s asex­ual in the comics. But some­how it just works on­screen, with the chem­istry be­tween the two ac­tors light­ing up every moment. (Editor’s note: Maybe that’s be­cause ru­mours are swirling that the two ac­tors are also dat­ing IRL!) They’re sweet, they’re af­fec­tion­ate and they make Archie jeal­ous, which is kind of a nice side-ef­fect. I’m a com­plete Bug­head goner.

“Riverdale” airs on Net­flix in Canada, with a new episode avail­able most Fri­days, and trust me when I say you won’t want to miss it. Not only is it dark and fast-paced, but the mys­tery at its core is just start­ing to ramp up. But while I wait for the mys­tery to slowly un­ravel, I’ll just sit back and de­light in the sweetly poignant mo­ments hap­pen­ing be­tween Betty and Jug­head.

On that note, here are five rea­sons why Riverdale’s Bug­head is the best new ‘ship around: WE DIDN’T SEE IT COM­ING I was so sure the show would go the clas­sic route and have Veron­ica and Betty con­stantly fight­ing for Archie’s af­fec­tions. But in­stead Betty has found love else­where and she and Veron­ica are gen­uinely great friends. There is a part of me that’s dis­ap­pointed that the show didn’t keep Jug­head’s char­ac­ter asex­ual, es­pe­cially as asex­ual char­ac­ters are so of­ten under-rep­re­sented in pop cul­ture. But the is­sue has been ad­dressed by Jug­head ac­tor Cole Sprouse who sees Jug­head’s sex­u­al­ity as more of a jour­ney, and one that we may even­tu­ally end up see­ing played out on the screen.

THEY’RE A CRIME-SOLV­ING DUO

They just work well to­gether. They’re both in­ter­ested in jour­nal­ism, and they’re both nat­u­rally in­clined to try to seek out an­swers to un­solved ques­tions, like who killed Jason Blos­som. Betty and Jug­head’s pur­suit of the truth is the place where their op­po­site per­son­al­i­ties meet, and it gives them a com­mon in­ter­est that brings them closer to­gether.

THEY GEN­UINELY SUP­PORT EACH OTHER

Both Betty and Jug­head have pretty messed up fam­ily lives. And while it might take a while for them to fully open up, they’re slowly learn­ing to lean on each other. When Betty needs com­fort­ing, Jug­head is there with all the right words. When she needs help with her sis­ter’s baby shower, he’s there to move cakes. Sim­i­larly, when Jug­head is deal­ing with his fa­ther is­sues, Betty shows up. No mat­ter what, th­ese two are on each other’s side.

THEY WORK THROUGH THEIR IS­SUES

It’s so rare to see a healthy cou­ple on TV, let alone one so young. But Bug­head is so healthy, in part be­cause they rec­og­nize the mo­ments where they aren’t. Both suf­fer from so­cial anx­i­ety, and both have to deal with their is­sues in their own ways. Betty con­stantly tries to fit in, to be “perfect” while Jug­head chooses to buck those trends and em­brace his “weird.” When faced with a con­flict, the two talk it out and come out stronger on the other side. In episode 10, it seems like Betty’s un­wel­come birth­day party for Jug­head will end their re­la­tion­ship. In­stead, the two talk, open up and we get a scene with Jug­head kiss­ing the self­in­flicted cuts on Betty’s hands. THOSE KISSES! This is a cou­ple that is new and ex­cit­ing, with every look pack­ing loads of mean­ing. But they also still seem com­fort­able and es­tab­lished, like they’ve been to­gether for years.

My big­gest “Riverdale” fear is that the love tri­an­gles start form­ing for real, pit­ting Jug­head against Archie or Betty against Veron­ica. But right now, Betty and Jug­head are (by far) the most in­ter­est­ing part of this show. And that’s say­ing some­thing, con­sid­er­ing how every episode turns out to be nuts.

I have no idea where “Riverdale” is tak­ing all of this, but as long as Bug­head is a part of it, then I am def­i­nitely along for the ride.

KATIE YU, THE CW

KJ Apa as Archie, Camila Men­des as Veron­ica, Cole Sprouse as Jug­head and Lili Rein­hart as Betty, star in “Riverdale.” Think “Twin Peaks” meets “Veron­ica Mars” meets “Daw­son’s Creek.”

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