While the series premiere of Riverdale set up the iconic love triangle between Archie, the girl next door and the new girl from New York, it's important to know that it won't be something that gets dragged out in the show's first run. The show purposefully tackled it in the premiere so that it wouldn't be an obstacle to overcome for the rest of the show, allowing Riverdale to become more than a worn-out romantic trope.
Yes, Betty loves her lifelong best friend Archie and the football stud with newly minted abs conveniently gets a set of heart eyes for the new girl in town, Veronica — but it's not about who Archie chooses in the end. The premiere explained Betty's feelings and set up a flirtation between Archie and Veronica, but Riverdale decided to use the cliche to break tradition and create a more empowering and lasting storyline — the friendship between Betty and Veronica.
"It's arguably one of the most well known love-triangles in the history of love triangles. We had to service it in some way," executive producer Roberto Aguire-Sacasa explains to TVGuide.com "It felt nice, though, that when the transgression happens, it violates a friendship. The big thing isn't just with Archie and Betty, it's with the new friendship with Veronica that's also put into jeopardy. We wanted to hit it hard and hit it early, then move beyond it."
Also part of evading the trap of falling into the love triangle trap immediately was the choice to involve Archie in a much more scandalous relationship. The first hour of Riverdale revealed that Archie is currently romantically entangled with his music teacher — Miss Grundy (Sarah Habel). The scandalous relationship not only removes Archie from the middle of Betty and Veronica's friendship, but helps to escalate the drama of the series and darken the themes that Riverdale hopes to tackle from its comic book predecessor.
"One of the things we thought about and talked about a lot in the development of this is one, [the affair] keeps us from falling immediately into "Who is he going to pick?" because he's involved in this much more complicated thing," Aguire-Sacasa says. "The other thing is it immediately tells people, 'Oh my God this is not the world I thought it was. This is not the character I thought Archie was.' He is immediately in a morally compromised, murky, adult, dangerous relationship. In a show that's all about a secret, that's a big theme of the show, it gave Archie this huge secret to wrestle with."
The biggest secret, at least for Season 1, of course is who killed Jason Blossom. It's important to note that Archie's only secret isn't the affair with his teacher, but that they were near the lake on the morning that Jason was killed, making their relationship even more of a moral question mark.
Archie and Geraldine Grundy are not the only ones that have to worry about Jason's murder investigation though, which is the crux of the whole first season. The mystery of Jason's death will cause several secrets to be revealed in Riverdale, and lead to more scandals down the road. In a genius twist, the central plot puzzle prevents Riverdale from being just a teen drama — the show ropes the Archie parents into the plot in a way that many fans have never seen adults involved in an alleged high school show before.
Of course, why wouldn't you make the adults big players in your overall mystery when you've landed the likes of Luke Perry as Fred Andrews, Madchin Amick as Alice Cooper and Marisol Nichols as Hermione Lodge? The talent embodied in the Riverdale parents was something that couldn't be ignored.
"We didn't want them to just to have two lines at the top of the episode and then two lines at the end of the episode. We really wanted this to be a show that's about a town and not just a high school. When you have actors like Luke Perry, Machin [Amick] and Marisol Nichols who plays Veronica's mom — they're incredible actors," Aguire-Sacasa explains.
The key is to blend the adult drama with the tension between the teenagers to keep things even and moving along. Creating those threads very carefully will pay off in a major way when the loose ends Riverdale is setting up start to come together.
"[The adults] will have stories with their kids and they will have stories that are amongst themselves. They all have a history. They all went to the same school their kids are all going to now together, which is nice and it's fun to unpack that history," Aguire-Sacasa continues. "They will all be involved in the mystery. The best stories are the ones that don't just involve one world, but when all of our worlds crossover."
Riverdale continues Thursdays at 9/8c on the CW.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, one of the CW's parent companies)