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Everything I thought while watching the ‘Riverdale’ musical episodes

January 19, 2021 by Sophie Thomas
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Cast of Riverdale (Photo by Katie Wu/The CW)

Let me own something about myself before I start: I’m a millennial who probably spends way too much time watching bad television for her own good. Yes, the multi-award-winning programs are great too, but there is something so wonderful about sitting down to watch a bad show. They’re comforting. They’re pleasing. I just can’t take my eyes off of them. 

One show that describes the aforementioned bad television is Riverdale. Based on the Archie comics, this teen drama sees a group of high school students rid their small town of all bad people. In its early years, I’d watch each episode as soon as it came out. Now, I’d tune in if I needed to escape the world and laugh. There’s no “Sugar Sugar” here anymore, it’s just far-fetched storylines, ridiculous characters, and way too much sex for teenagers. 

Each season, we’re treated to a musical episode. All prior storylines suddenly stop. Instead, audiences are treated (loosely using the “treated” term here) with 45-minute bonanzas bringing Riverdale and riffs together. So far, there’s been three and needless to say, they’re wonderfully awful.

Ahead of season 5 of Riverdale premiering on Netflix on Jan. 20, 2021, I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane and remind myself of the musical theater episodes in Riverdale. Below are the thoughts I had while watching each episode. Just a side note, if you take part in this exercise too, then back-to-back watching will make you delirious.

Carrie The Musical (“A Night to Remember”, Season 2, Episode 18)

  • Okay which high schooler runs to their first rehearsal in the school? There’s being keen and then there’s too keen. Take it from experience, being too keen is not a good thing. 
  • God bless Kevin Keller’s (Casey Cott’s) voice.
  • Is this going to be like Glee on steroids? 
  • These tenuous segues into songs are almost laughable. Why would any sane person just belt out a song in the middle of a conversation unless they were trying to get all the attention. Oh wait… it’s Riverdale… of course they’re attention seeking.
  • There’s a difference between stage acting and television acting, something which this episode is trying to manage but just misses the mark. I enjoy the over-the-top acting though.
  • I had forgotten how ridiculous Riverdale stories are. Why does something fall from the ceiling mid conversation and it not be the main focus for the scene?
  • How old are these kids here? They’re portraying 16/17 year olds. So, how are they this in touch with themselves and seemingly out of touch with reality and anything that happens outside of their Riverdale bubble?
  • Stop referring to Carrie White in normal conversation like she is someone you have always referred to. You have literally never mentioned Carrie White once. 
  • So this school is massive. They struggle to find each other in the hallway. But then how is their auditorium so small? Fund The Arts. 
  • Can we please stop being so overtly sexual to the point where it actually stops me from watching. You can’t move your bodies in a dance routine but as soon as you have to be “sexy,” you’ll dry hump each other on stage like it’s nothing. Give me strength.
  • This on/off stage drama is catty. I love catty drama.
  • Why is a parent involved in the school production? I thought this was a show for the kids. If my mum or dad did so much as stand on a stage when I was at school, I would not be happy.
  • Again, how is a parent performing not embarrassing any of the students? I’d be mortified by this point.
  • A moment to discuss the budget here. They have a full set and Playbills and a giant dressing room but their stage is literally six foot across? 
  • Why are they making Carrie sound like a cheesy, cheery musical? Please do Carrie justice. (Oh wait, Carrie was only performed 21 times on Broadway. Maybe it doesn’t deserve the justice?)
  • This box step choreography is hilariously bad. 
  • Away from all the musical moments, we must acknowledge Cheryl Blossom walking into her house covered in blood like this is normal behavior? I know it’s an ode to the film but, is this? a bit? much?
  • Why is Kevin Keller in charge of everything? He is a student. Where is the teacher supervision? 
Alice Cooper Riverdale
Alice Cooper in Riverdale (Photo courtesy of The CW)
  • Nice to see Alice Cooper look like Kate Bush in “that wig.” 
  • Why does Carrie not sing? Why are there no resolutions? Okay I get it, it’s a TV show and a cliffhanger but musicals do actually end.

Heathers The Musical (“Big Fun,” Season 3, Episode 16)

Riverdale Heathers
Cast of Riverdale (Photo by Dean Buscher/The CW)
  • I actually remember this episode coming out around the time it had just been on the West End. It was great timing and I was genuinely excited to see this show. 
  • Even the show recognizes how far-fetched it has become, and for that I commend them. 
  • Why do they have passion in scenes of a sexual nature, but then all passion goes when they sing? 
  • Please stop with this “dressing like the characters” schtick. Why are they in red/yellow/green already when they’d never dress like this usually? 
  • OH MY GOD I forgot the lyric changes in “Candy Store.” “Prove you’re not a doorknob anymore” and the sugar-coated lines. (I had to pause the episode to stop myself laughing by this point.)
  • How have they got away with a cast party in the middle of a production? How can they drink and their parents be okay with it? Do I need to stress this again? They are literally 17. 
  • Would the jocks dance in real life with strangers they’ve literally just met? Would they? Why am I referring to them as jocks? 
  • I’m gonna say it again and this is the hill I will die on, Casey Cott is the most talented actor in Riverdale.
  • If I were cast in Riverdale and told I’d be sitting in a swimming pool, I would not be pleased.
  • Hilarious that two characters wearing red is the drama of the school. Honestly, here for it.
  • Why are they getting undressed on stage in “Dead Girl Walking”? Why is Cheryl Blossom a voyeur? Why are they insinuating a menage-a-trois in a show designed for teenagers?
  • “Our Love is God” has now become some sort of Satanic ritual, and weirdly this doesn’t even feel out of place. 
  • A song about “Fighting for You” takes place in a literal boxing club. That is all I have to say on the matter.
  • How at their age are they defeating a cult and taking part in the school musical? Does this count as extra credit?
  • “Seventeen” is actually a very cute song in the context of this musical episode. It feels, dare I say it, normal? Innocent? 
  • HOW are the boys and girls in the same dressing room? For a school that doesn’t want to talk about its kids having sex, they can’t even split them backstage.
  • Why, in the finale, do they stand and sing a la “Seasons of Love” from Rent? 
  • I am obsessed with this angry step of convicted choreography that’s done to try and be simple yet effective but is obviously because some cast members cannot dance.
  • Why do they all drop their arms at different times after the finale? Sidenote: I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been in rehearsals and this has been a main focus.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (“Wicked Little Town,” Season 4, Episode 17)

  • So the episode starts with a student and headmaster arguing about the acts in this year’s variety show. He refers to “classic” musicals like Oklahoma! and Carousel but the joke is on him because they’ve just been revived on Broadway. It’s no Brigadoon
  • This is the third musical episode I’ve watched and they all start in the same way. Did the scriptwriters just do a copy/paste job? 
  • How are they all throwing confetti out of a locker and it not annoying the faculty?
  • I don’t understand this school anymore, there I said it. 
  • Right so did they pick Casey Cott (Kevin) to play Hedwig and have the episode around him because he’s the only one who can sing? This is the theory I believe in. 
  • Can this episode please stop trying to be Grease too? PJs + singing = Grease in my mind. 
  • Obsessed with the simple choreography once again of “single, single, double” sways. Again, proving that musical theater is not represented well in Riverdale.
  • A horrible thought: the next musical theater episode is gonna have TikTok dances.
  • We literally do not need a song about sugar daddies in Riverdale, even if this is a Hedwig song? Nobody asked for this. 
  • We definitely do not need the thrusting in a song about sugar daddies.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch Riverdale
Cast of Riverdale (Photo by Shane Harvey/The CW)
  • The power in all the characters coming out with Hedwig wigs knows no bounds. Where is this Hedwig wig shop? Can I go there please? 
  • I like when the songs fit in the show, but I think I love it more when the songs don’t work. I refuse to believe there are any characters that associate themselves with the line “the children of the moon was like a fork shoved on a spoon.”
  • Why does this episode not make it any clearer on what Hedwig and the Angry Inch is actually about? 
  • A moment to honor the “And Jughead” line in the final song please. I wish I could sigh all my thoughts with the same conviction.
  • They’re singing a song that appeals to people who think they’re outcast in a society… in an invite only club… where only the “coolest” people are? Make this make sense. Answers on a postcard please. 
  • Just because a harmony is there, doesn’t mean a harmony should be sung. Too many harmonies spoil the broth. 
  • Why are they singing on the roof at the end? They are *not* the Beatles.

So that’s it. Riverdale musical theater episodes are a sight to behold. These episodes somehow fit the teen drama genre while breaking all previously held tropes found in Riverdale.

Want to join in the fun too? All episodes of Riverdale are available on Netflix to binge watch to your heart’s content. I can’t wait for what season 5 will bring us.