Oh Riverdale, I can handle Archie (KJ Apa) starting his own teen vigilante crew. I can even handle Dark Betty (Lili Reinhart). What I can't handle is a very serious plotline about how the Ghoulies are dealing jingle jangle.
I mean, please. Can anyone get through that sentence with a straight face? No! Even Cole Sprouse admitted that jingle jangle was hard for the actors to accept at first. "This is one of those things that we had a huge talk to [showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa] about," Sprouse told TV Guide. "Trust me, we're the ones having to say it over and over again, but we kind of suspend our disbelief now."
While I'm well and happy for Sprouse and the cast's ability to suspend their disbelief that a quaint town is being overrun by a hard drug that looks like Pixy Stix and is called JINGLE JANGLE, I just can't. Every time a character says jingle jangle, I'm immediately taken out of this world. It's completely disruptive! To make matters worse, Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan) attempts to circumvent the absurdity of jingle jangle by shortening it to "the J.J." which, when said out loud, sounds like she's saying "vajayjay," which would be a whole other show.
The name jingle jangle, although ridiculous, does make some sense in the context of this universe. The phrase comes from a 1969 song by The Archies, which actually managed to chart in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. But as cute as Riverdale's little nods to Archie Comics can be, this one just doesn't land because there's far too large of a discrepancy between the lightheartedness of the phrase "jingle jangle" and the serious storyline it's becoming enveloped in.
At his new school, Jughead learns that the Southside Serpents' rival gang, the Ghoulies, are bringing the addictive upper into Riverdale. Determined to be the next Woodward and Bernstein, Jughead decides it's his job and his job alone to expose the new drug trade in Riverdale. He did already take one Riverdale drug boss down, why not another? Hell, if Jughead exposes another drug pipeline in Riverdale next season, it'll officially be a trend!
The problem is, the darker and more serious this storyline gets, the more discordant the name jingle jangle is going to seem. Plus, the drug's clear connection to Pixy Stix is doing this situation zero favors. It's near-to-impossible to take moments like this seriously as a sign of how Riverdale is a town plagued by sinners and corruption. It just looks like a bunch of burnouts enjoying a sugar high!
Look, I don't love Riverdale because it's a Serious Drama. I don't even love Riverdale because I think it's particularly well written or well acted. I love it because of its ridiculousness, but this honestly is pushing my limits. It's like an entire storyline that is just Dark Betty boiling someone alive in a hot tub while pouring maple syrup on him.
Wednesday's episode made it clear that Jughead is about to go down a seriously dark path — one that threatens his relationship with everyone's favorite boatneck sweater fanatic, Betty Cooper — and it appears as though the driving force behind these troubles is going to be jingle jangle. How can something that sounds so dumb cause so much drama and heartache without lessening the impact? That's the question Riverdale has to answer in the weeks ahead. Until then, I will do my best to suspend my disbelief, but no promises.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on the CW.
(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies.)