The episode of Riverdale everyone has been waiting for finally aired Wednesday night. It uncovered what the Midnight Club, the ragtag group of characters now known as the parents of current Riverdale high teens, got up to during their Saturday detention 20 years ago. And naturally, the episode revealed the recent uprising of Gryphons and Gargoyles -- the mythological game that's been driving Riverdale teens to kill themselves -- wasn't the first. The parents had their fun playing as well -- before things went dark for them, too.
The special episode featured the young stars of Riverdale playing the teen versions of their parents: KJ Apa as Luke Perry, Cole Sprouse imitating Skeet Ulrich, Lili Reinhart doing her best Madchen Amick and so forth. It was a nostalgic kickback to the '90s in both the wardrobe and jargon, but how well did the youngsters do at playing their former teen icon parents?
We compared their performances based on appearance and how much they reminded us of their TV parents -- whether in their former teen icon heyday or channeling the adult versions we've grown to love. Who do you think did the best? You might be surprised.
If we were ranking these performances, Apa's take on a young Fred Andrews would win first prize. Teen Fred didn't have the strongest hints of Beverly Hills, 90210's Dylan McKay, but Apa went the furthest not only to look like teenage Luke but to sound like him as well. There are many times in the episode in which Apa's cadence is so spot-on, you could close your eyes and swear that Perry was doing it himself.
It's hard to imagine FP Jones as an aspiring athlete with college ambitions, but it turns out the former head of the Southside Serpents did his time in a letterman jacket before trying out the gang life. That disconnect with the FP we know in the present made it a bit harder for Sprouse to imitate his TV dad. For the most part, it felt like Jughead in a letterman jacket -- except for the scene with Hermione (Camila Mendes) by the vending machine. Sprouse's leer and flagrant gum chewing gave us strong hints of Ulrich as Billy Loomis in Scream, and it was thrilling.
If points are being awarded purely for doppelganger-ness, then Reinhart takes the cake as young Alice Smith. The wavy/curly hair was spot on and her flannel-over-ripped-jeans gave us all the '90s feels. Did she sound or talk like Alice though, or was she Shelly Johnson fromTwin Peaks? That's a little less clear. The Serpent gear made her different from Betty, but when the chips were down and Alice started lecturing her friends about doing the right thing, it felt like a modern day Betty in the middle of that circle rather than pre-Farm Alice.
Young Hermione is another case that doesn't exactly match her adult persona, but Mendes brought her own adorable charm to playing her TV mom as a modest Catholic teenager. She ditched Veronica's straight-from-the-internet quips and tapped into Hermione's (Marisol Nichols) quick, hot temper. The events of the episode are what catapult young Hermione into being the adult we know in present day, so we understand Mendes not going for a straight imitation, but the small notes she works in there are very effective.
We didn't get to see much of young Hiram, but the few scenes we did get left no doubt that Michael Consuelos has inherited his real-life father's charm and charisma. It was extra help to hear that Consuelos' voice is also eerily similar to his real dad's timbre -- even in Spanish!
The Blossoms are the most fascinating family on this show by far, but it turns out that teen Penelope Blossom was very much like Cheryl, just a hall monitor instead of a River Vixen. It was less like Petsch was channeling teenage Penelope (though she did throw in some dorky dance moves that Cheryl wouldn't be caught dead doing) and more like Cheryl with glasses, but she was still as enjoyable as Cheryl always is.
Murray's take on a young Sierra McCoy had the same difficulties as Petsch as Penelope Blossom. Outside of a more retro outfit, young Sierra is just like teen Josie. They're both opinionated young women standing up for what they believe in and they also love to sing. The issue is that Riverdale didn't try to make Murray look that much different from her normal character, except to put her in some '90s clothes. Everyone else got at least a little bit of a twist.
Vote for who you think did the best in our poll below!
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies.)