Riverdale actor Cole Sprouse has thrown his thoughts into the discourse on Jughead's sexuality representation. Be warned, this article contains spoilers for the latest episode of Riverdale, 'Faster, Pussycats! Kill! Kill!'.
Okay, so in the latest episode we discover that Riverdale's Jughead is most definitely not asexual or aromantic, as he has been represented at various points in the comics and which has been the focus of discussion for many who are fighting for better asexual and aromantic representation in media.
In all honesty, Sprouse had discussed this before, before the start of the series. He has even said that he fought for TV Jughead to be asexual.
Instead, the TV show is following a Jughead/Betty Cooper romance subplot, which in itself has a fan following as a ship too.
"I think, first and foremost, this conversation deserves more time than something that we can quickly do here. There are two forms of representation Jughead has received over time. In Zdarsky's Jughead, he's asexual. That's the only Jughead where he is asexual. He's aromantic in the digests, which is a different thing but deserves attention as well.
But what I found when I was really diving in — because once we started putting Jughead and Betty together, I started doing research to see if that was a narrative that even existed in the digests, and it turns out it is. It's a narrative that's existed for a long time. There are a handful of digests in which Jughead would say things like, 'Oh, Betty, if I did like women, I guarantee you would be the one I would marry outright. You are the best person around.' He would say these things that are really romantic and cute with an appreciation for Betty and I think it's become clear to me now that Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] has taken off with that trend."
He continues to explain why he hopes viewers will give this relationship a chance, perhaps even the ones who had hoped for an asexual/aromantic Jughead on the screen,
"While I think that representation is needed, this Jughead is not that Jughead. This Jughead is not Zdarsky's Jughead and this Jughead is not the aromantic Jughead," he said. "This Jughead is a person who is looking for a kind of deeper companionship with a person like Betty and Betty ends up being this super nurturing, caring, care-taking person that with Jughead's screwed-up past they end up diving into each other and it ends up being a beautiful thing.
How are people going to respond? Truthfully, they're probably going to be quite incendiary about it at first. Do I think that's ill-placed? No. Do I think they should give it a shot? Yeah, I do, because I think now — after filming thirteen episodes — it makes sense to me and, if it makes sense to me as the person who's dumping so much time and especially so much argumentation into trying to represent Jughead correctly, if it makes sense to me, it will make sense to other people as well."
He brings up interesting points. For one, this TV universe is another universe for the Archie characters. Things are different, that's for sure. Jughead himself is different, much more troubled and currently homeless. Of course, much of the #AceAroJugheadorBust controversy is stemming from the comics, as Chip Zdarsky is leaving and Mark Waid comes in, and fears that Jughead's sexuality will be changed there…which would be an example of hiding or removing the characters sexuality as that would be the same continuity.
The TV show…isn't. It's a different continuity, and they are following the path of one interpretation of the character based on the source material and building from there. It kinda sucks that it isn't an AceAro Juggie, as there is so little in the way of representation for that community. It isn't entirely surprising. After all, Hollywood and TV execs seem to be under the impression that all drama MUST have romance; after all, consider the weird romance plot in Captain America: Civil War that was totally unnecessary and weird.
Of course, we now have to wait and see on the show how this romance plays out and evolves…and how Jughead's representation evolves in the comics too.