Though most of season 1 was already filmed before it aired, Executive Producer Sarah Schechter said one particular fan reaction made its way into Riverdale’s scripts and on screen: Clifford Blossom’s terrible wig.
“All props to our hair department, but it did not look good. His hair was dyed in the pilot, but he had a bad reaction to the hair dye and couldn’t keep dying it, so we had to do the wig,” she said. “And then we just leaned into it… It’s more interesting if he wears a wig, sort of strange and Lynchian. In that way, we definitely listened to the fans.”
Bad hair days aside, the cast of Riverdale discussed the massive and mostly overwhelmingly positive reactions to the show they’ve had from fans, including watching the show live with them via twitter. Cole Sprouse, who plays Jughead on the series, said social media has amplified the way fans interact with artists and, in particular, push for politically correct narratives.
“That’s the way the internet works: It rewards extremism. So you either have super politically correct or super politically incorrect. And you see both of those kinds of narratives pushed or bullied around. But the truth is, the role of the audience member is something that is in flux,” he said.
Sprouse contrasted the real-time interaction with fans to the way other artists typically work when dealing with a final product.
“I think a lot of fans think that they can bully around the actors and the writers online into a kind of narrative they want to see. To me, that feels quite a bit like going into an artist’s gallery with the artist present and telling then him to change a picture or a painting that they’ve made,” he said. “So it’s been an interesting balance knowing that you have to appeal to the same kind of craft that fans came to love in season one, but also not allowing them to dictate the narrative.”
Schechter said the strong fan reaction to Betty and Jughead, dubbed “Bughead” by the fan community, especially took them by surprise, but that ultimately the show can’t be what it is without conflict.
“We’re so lucky that people love the characters, but if there were no problems, the show would actually be really boring,” she said. “You want to honor how much the audience has invested in the characters, but you want them to continue to grow, and in order to grow they have to make mistakes, have setbacks, have problems they overcome… We hope the audience trusts us that we love these characters as much as they do and we’re going to take care of them, but we need a little drama.”
Season 2 of Riverdale begins on Oct. 11 on The CW.