Last night, the season three finale of Riverdale aired and with its end, more questions arose. Specifically: are these kids going to be okay? Because seriously. I am worried about the Riverdale kids.
Which is obviously the point, I get it. Each season we’re greeted with a fresh batch of horrors through which Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and Archie must navigate, and the point of each and every one is to throw new dangers at their beautiful faces while they still attend school and find time to coordinate terrific outfits.
But my concern exists less in whether the fab four will survive, but whether they’re going to be able to exist in the real world after high school ends. Because guys, they can’t be okay. This season alone, a concerning amount of poisoned beverage was consumed. Chad Michael Murray appeared as a cult leader. (I refuse to call him anything but Chad Michael Murray.) “The Goblin King” was someone who existed and thrived despite having the stupidest name in the history of stupid names. Archie was in a prison fight club. Veronica’s father went to prison. Betty’s parents . . . I mean, that is absolutely a Master’s thesis in and of itself. And role-playing games became The Thing Everybody Did. In high school.
Nobody in Riverdale has actual fun. Everybody in Riverdale is navigating trauma that can only be dealt with through extensive therapy and moving far away. On a regular basis, teenagers are forced to solve murders while adults get angry about their right to house fugitives who masquerade as their long lost son. None of these people have not gone to a normal party since Jughead’s disaster birthday in season one. Not a soul has loitered outside of a movie theatre because they’re bored and they’re teens and that’s how being a bored teen works sometimes. No one seems to like music outside of “Let’s put on a school performance of A Really Bad Rendition Of A Song.” Driving! Is anyone into that? Please, for the love of all that is good get these children to a mall, and I’ll look the other way when they smoke terrible-tasting bargain-discount cigarettes in an attempt to seem cool and adult. They’re so close to New York! Go there. Please. I beg you. Sit on a bench. Get petty about brands.
Of course, I say this as a grown-ass woman who thoroughly enjoys a TV show largely meant for teens. But at the same time, I would live and die for a season that sees each character deal with the realization that they need to process three years of the worst case scenarios. I would love to see them apply to colleges. I would bask in the glory of a detailed conversation about their therapists. I would love to see them bored. And I would love Archie to dial it down a notch because meeting him as an adult would be an absolute nightmare. (Imagine? “Dude, why are you taking your shirt off in anger? This is a Trader Joe’s.) There is no way Riverdale will ever stop being dark, regardless of how many mysterious murders exist. This town is cursed. These children have gone through it. They could make sitting in silence, trying to eat lunch despite having no appetite anymore seem intense. Remember when Marissa Cooper threw her patio furniture in the pool and screamed? I’m ready for that level of “Wow, that was a super big deal.”
Especially since college awaits. How are they going to be ready? How are they going to learn how to write essays despite not doing the assigned readings? Have they learned how to make Mr. Noodles? Do they know the ins and outs of surviving on fries and peanut butter eaten directly from a jar? How can be possibly be ready to begin dating someone they know is totally wrong but they’re just too lazy to end it? When will they get into mindless arguments about which bar they’re going to, and why they want to go to the other one, and why they’re sick of the bar everyone always goes to? And when will they get into fights at bars based only on “That girl bumped into me when she was dancing, and I’ve consumed 42 amoretto sours so now I must confront her”?
I know the finale led us to believe that next season, Jughead is hatless and covered in blood someplace. But despite this setback, I can only hope that the Riverdale gang is met with their biggest challenge yet: absolute, mind-sucking normalcy. Or at least one episode at like, Brandy Melville’s.