The untold truth of Riverdale

Riverdale is the CW's hottest new show, set in a seedy town at the edge of a lake, filled with preposterously attractive teenagers, engaging in steamy drama. It's also an adaptation of Archie Comics. Yes, those Archie Comics. One of the characters is Jughead. How did this happen?

There's already a cover of Sugar Sugar

Archie and the gang have done a lot of things in the comic books — they've been students, adults, superheroes, and, perhaps most famously, musicians. The gang's band, The Archies, are a seminal part of the Archie Comics canon. The 1960s cartoon adaptation of Archie Comics, The Archie Show, featured The Archies and their song "Sugar Sugar," which became a number one hit in real life. Riverdale had only been on the air roughly as long as you've been reading this article before a new incarnation of "Sugar Sugar" appeared — though you might not have noticed, at first.

In Riverdale's second episode, Josie and the Pussycats (yep, they're here too) did a cover of Inner Circle and Flo Rida's "Candy Girl (Sugar Sugar)," which is itself a cover, of sorts, of the original "Sugar Sugar." Listening to the two songs back-to-back gives you a taste of the new direction Riverdale is taking the characters. (Hint: It involves rapping cheerleaders.)

The show is inspired by Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks is one of the most groundbreaking television shows ever created. It's about the investigation of a murder in a small town, but also magical lodges, and monsters named Bob? It's weird, but beloved, and Riverdale has drawn a lot from it. From the title card, to the tone, to the mysterious murder of a beloved teen, this show reeks of Twin Peaks-influence.

Oh, and what's that? It has a famous Twin Peaks actress, Madchen Adwick, in the show, as well. There's even a scene with the Twin Peaks actress, featuring a Twin Peaks easter egg, in the show obviously based on Twin Peaks. That's some YO DAWG, WE HEARD YOU LIKE-level of Inception-like mindfudgery. Good on you, Riverdale.

The creator was sued ... by Archie Comics

So who is the mastermind behind this demented production? What twisted mind would dream these things up, and how did Archie Comics let him get away with it? Well, funnily enough, originally, it didn't.

See, the writer, executive producer, and showrunner, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa started out his professional writing career as a playwright. While struggling to get his career up and running, he wrote up a play about Archie Andrews going back to his hometown and revealing the was gay to everyone. It was going to be called Archie's Weird Fantasy, and it got absolutely nowhere because Archie Comics sued the heck out of it.

After that, Aguirre-Sacasa continued putting it on — he just changed the name of all the characters, and the name of the play, but even then it was still very obviously about Archie Andrews, but at least the legal issues were out of the way. Writing a heavily revisionist version of the life and times of Archie Andrews was pretty good practice practice for his future showrunner job … as well as his current job as Chief Creative Officer of Archie Comics.

The show's creator also created Afterlife with Archie

TV and comic book writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is the showrunner and head writer for Riverdale, but this isn't the first official Archie production he's been a part of — far from it. Before becoming an executive at Archie Comics, he was a writer, and he came up with a mini-series that would revolutionize how the Archie line would interact with their readership. He created a comic book called Afterlife with Archie and it was about — brace yourself — a zombie outbreak affecting Riverdale, killing almost everyone in the comics in increasingly gory ways. Jughead gets bitten by his zombified sheepdog, Hot Dog, kickstarting the whole gruesome mess. Just imagine that scene playing out, soundtracked by "Sugar Sugar."

Don't expect Jughead to have a love interest

Jughead has been a part of the Archie universe from day one. He's a fan favorite, and it's easy to see why: he's sardonic, he eats a lot, and he's never tangled up in unrealistic silly love triangle drama. He's so uninterested in romance, in fact, that recent comic books have gone ahead and stated that Jughead is just out and out asexual.

However, here's the thing: the Riverdale team is being rather coy about it. The creators haven't denied he'll be asexual, but so far, there's nothing we've seen to canonize it, and as we all know, television shows love to create silly love triangles. For what it's worth, Jughead's actor, Cole Sprouse (yeah, we know), has said he'll do everything in his power to keep Jughead's sexuality as it is in the comics. He believes it's good and important and wait … seriously? The kid from Suite Life is still working? Huh.

Riverdale isn't the first dark, live-action Archie tale

Riverdale might seem to be the weirdest idea ever. A dark, live-action adaptation of the Archie comics we all love? Are they trying to ruin our childhoods? But it's not the first grim look at the world of Archie Andrews. In 1990, there was a live-action TV movie adaptation called Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again centered around the gang's shared miseries on the eve of their 15-year high school reunion. If Archie comics is the night of drinking that seems like it'll never end, then To Riverdale and Back Again was the nasty hangover that brings reality crashing back in.

Although the movie ends somewhat happily, it literally begins with Jughead — the happy-go-lucky character — laying on a therapist's couch, ranting about how depressing his life is, before revealing that he's the therapist. Not only is he depressed, but he's terrible at his job? Oh, Jughead.

Archie's Weird Mysteries went even darker than Riverdale

Riverdale arguably not the darkest of all the Archie adaptations. No, that honor would go to 1999's Archie's Weird Mysteries. It was a short-lived cartoon series about the gang investigating monsters, zombies, aliens, vampires — all sorts of things. Like Scooby Doo, except in that show, almost all of those "monsters" aren't actually real. But in this? It's basically Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with the Archie's gang stuffed in the middle.

The idea of putting actual vampire, werewolves, and even giant potato monsters into Riverdale is so strange and so alien, that the show Riverdale — merely featuring the murder of a teenager — seems almost wholesome and grounded by comparison. So that's one good thing Archie's Weird Mysteries has done, we guess.

The show is partially inspired by the comics reboot

The Archie Comics have been around for roughly as long as God, but despite that, it's always been set, technically, in the present. But until recently, it felt like it's set fifty years in the past. All of the characters are so squeaky clean, that even when using iPhones, they seem like relics. However, after the characters were updated for the 2010s, things changed: Archie and Betty are a lovelorn couple, Veronica is a new resident in town, Jughead is the sardonic hipster, Reggie is a jerk, and… hey, this is basically Riverdale, isn't it?

The newest incarnation of Archie Comics, while not quite as dark as the show Riverdale, is definitely a major step in the evolution of the brand. Instead of being the comics that your grandmother keeps in her bathroom, they're now the kind that you can find in college dorm rooms, ensuring that Archie will live on for another generation to find him hokey and old-timey.