We’re now into season four of Riverdale and (spoiler) Betty and Jughead are stronger than ever.
Riverdale obviously took a lot of liberties in adapting the Archie comics. They went darker, edgier, and sexier. Like way sexier.
And that vision, to many fan’s dismay, extended to Jughead Jones.
As you may or may not know by now, the Jughead of the comic books was asexual. And when the opportunity to showcase an asexual character in a big-budget teen show was passed over, many were pissed — and understandably so. Asexuality is often ignored by pop culture. The only mainstream asexual TV character is Todd from BoJack Horseman and he’s a cartoon.
Cole Sprouse, aka Jughead in Riverdale, said he fought hard to make his character true to the comics. In a Reddit AMA back in September, he told fans,
“Of course, I haven‘t stopped the dialogue. I‘m sure I‘m quite the pest. Can‘t spoil too much unfortunately, but this topic was one of the first I discussed with [Riverdale creator] Roberto before this season started.“
And even though Bughead (Jughead x Betty) was a huge part of season one and Bughead shippers are totally devoted to the couple, both Sprouse and the show’s creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa have insinuated that Jughead is just finding his way and may embrace his asexuality…. eventually.
Cole told Teen Vogue back in January,
“The entirety of season 1 sets the pace for a character’s narrative arc. Because of the fluidity of sexuality and how oftentimes a person discovers who they are after a series of events – like those told in our origin stories – this is an ongoing conversation.”
This is basically the same sentiment that Aguirre-Sacasa echoed in an interview with MTV.
“I think all of the kids are discovering themselves, and a big part of that is discovering their sexuality, their sexual selves. Rather than have everything fully formed — for instance, we’re not going to start with Archie’s band or Jughead’s asexuality or any of the things that have become canon — those are all stops on the way to the journey until the show catches up to 75 years of Archie history.”
I have to say, showing Jughead’s sexuality has a story of discovery is not only valid but a better way of addressing the issue. So many high schoolers are still finding their way and questioning their sexuality. And with such little information spread about asexuality, it’s easy to believe that Jughead may not have a word for what he’s feeling.
And even if Jughead does end up identifying as asexual, it won’t mean that his relationship with Betty wasn’t real. There are many different subsets of asexuality, and being asexual does not mean that you can not love someone, only that you don’t experience sexual attraction. And demisexuals, an identity that falls under the larger umbrella of asexuality, do feel sexual attraction but only once they have formed a strong emotional connection with someone. Perhaps this term will end up suiting Jughead?
Either way, Jughead is on a journey and I’m excited to see where it will take him. I trust Cole and the writers to take the character where he needs to go and that they’ll represent him the best way they can.