Back before Riverdale took to the air, series star Cole Sprouse told ComicBook.com during a set visit that while he would like to explore the idea of Jughead Jones as an asexual character, he doubted that was the direction the series was going to take him.
As it turns out, Sprouse was filming this week's episode that day -- where Jughead and Betty kiss, and it seems that now the two are an item.
That won't be without controversy -- not only becuase it's pairing up two characters with 75 years of history who haven't been paired up in the comics, but also because the "asexual Jughead" stories introduced by Chip Zdarsky got a foothold with the fandom and, even though it's less than a year's worth of stories, it's become something that a lot of people expect to see from the character.
"I think first and foremost, this conversation [about Jughead's asexuality] deserves more time than something that we can quickly do here," Sprouse told ComicBook.com during a second, more recent, set visit back in February. "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 and 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 diving into try and find out if that's a narrative that even exists 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 has taken off with that."
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Sprouse, of course, isn't blind to the fans who had hoped to see a different take on the character, but his biggest concern, he says, is defending the integrity of the character as it is, rather than lobbying for what it might otherwise be.
"As much as there's a large community of people who really want to see Jughead as asexual, and I am a huge proponent for that kind of representation, there's also quite a large community of avid Archie fans that want Betty and Jughead to be together, too," Sprouse said. "I think these are things we need to juggle when considering what Jughead is in Riverdale. This is a new universe, this is a new take on Jughead, and he is this tortured damaged kid — this Holden Caulfield — who is looking for someone who can relate to him on a personal level and that narrative itself is also beautiful. While I think that [asexual] representation is needed, this Jughead is not that Jughead. This Jughead is not Zdarsky's Jughead and this Jughead is not the aromantic Jughead. 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, catering person that with Jughead's super 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 that 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 so much argumentation into trying to represent Jughead correctly, it will make sense to other people as well."
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Riverdale airs Thursday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.