After four seasons of teen drama, Riverdale Season 5 catapulted its fans and characters seven years into the future. Rather than following the Archieverse’s “Core Four” to college, the CW show chose to jump straight into their adult years. The decision was an unexpected one, and Riverdale fans don’t seem too keen on the outcome.
Showing what Archie (K.J. Apa), Betty (Lili Reinhart), Jughead (Cole Sprouse), and Veronica (Camila Mendes) are like in their 20s may sound good on paper. However, more than halfway through Riverdale Season 5, viewers admit they find the time jump a bit “depressing.”
[Spoiler warning: This article contains spoilers for the fifth season of Riverdale.]
Why ‘Riverdale’ decided to include a time jump
With Riverdale finding so much success as a teen drama, fans may be wondering why the CW series chose to implement a time skip in the first place. It’s not unheard of for a teen show to push its characters into the future. However, many of them have gone beyond five seasons without embracing such a massive change.
According to showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the time skip in Riverdale Season 5 happened for a few reasons. For one, the characters were graduating and heading off to college. Aguirre-Sacasa told Entertainment Weekly that college stories just don’t possess the same charm as high school ones:
“We did decide very quickly because all of the kids were seemingly going to different colleges and we didn’t want them to all go to, like, Riverdale University. And in terms of drama, for me, college is a less appealing version of high school stories.”
Riverdale‘s showrunner also admitted that the creative team wanted to come up with fresh ideas. The time jump allowed them to revamp some of the storylines and dynamics that were getting old.
“In terms of what we’re most excited about is that after four seasons of pretty elaborate, complicated storytelling, this time jump allows us to start with a clean slate, drop in the middle of stories and then have people catch up,” he explained. “And it allows us to play new dynamics.”
And the new episodes certainly do change the relationships between the core characters. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks that’s an improvement.
Fans find ‘Riverdale’ Season 5 a tad ‘depressing’
College stories may not hold the same magic as high school ones, but fans don’t seem enchanted by young adulthood either. Riverdale Season 5 kicks off on a somber note, revealing that the show’s Core Four haven’t exactly kept in touch. They’ve also ended up in some pretty unexpected places. Jughead drops out of college, Veronica’s in a questionable marriage, and even Riverdale as a town has fallen into disrepair.
With the CW show taking such a drastic shift from where it left off, some fans were bound to be disappointed. And several of them find the post-time jump Riverdale just a tad too bleak for their liking.
“This whole time jump is pretty depressing,” one fan wrote on Reddit. “Jug not graduating college makes me sad.”
“I’m just mad that they did it,” another Redditor said. “I just wish that they stopped at the graduation episode. As well as leaping ahead seven years. That’s way too long. What were Roberto and [the others] thinking?”
While some fans don’t love the depressing tone, however, others appreciate what Riverdale Season 5 is doing. No one denies the new episodes are sadder than what fans are used to. However, there’s an element of realism in the characters’ fates that can be relatable.
One fan describes the new Riverdale on Reddit as “depressing but realistic.”
Another Redditor echoed Aguirre-Sacasa’s sentiment about overdone dynamics, writing: “I thought the old dynamics got stale after like season 1 or 2 and I’m loving how none of the character dynamics are really the same anymore.”
Overall, fans are mixed on how the time jump is working for Riverdale. They all agree on one point, though: the Core Four’s young adulthood sure is dismal.
Season 5’s time jump creates continuity issues
Besides the “depressing” nature of Riverdale Season 5, the time jump presents another problem for the CW series. While the show never pinned down a definitive timeline, the new episodes establish that the characters are living in 2021. During a conversation with her husband, Chad (Chris Mason), Veronica says, “It’s 2021, Chad. Haven’t you heard? Women can have it all now.”
As Cosmopolitan points out, the graduation episode that takes place right before Riverdale‘s time jump sees Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) opening a time capsule from the class of 1945. Viewers are told Cheryl is doing this 75 years later, but that would place high school graduation somewhere in 2020. Add in the seven-year jump and the later episodes of season 5 should take place in 2027.
Of course, the retro design and implications that the characters were born in the early 2000s always made the timeline of Riverdale confusing. From what Aguirre-Sacasa told ET, the creators are aware of that fact:
“Yeah, this is kind of like the bummer of not having the natural summer break in between Seasons 4 and 5 because it really highlights how totally insane the Riverdale timeline really is. But yes, it feels like we are finally in the present day, though the esthetic will remain hopefully as timeless as ever.”
Even if the continuity feels a bit off, Riverdale fans aren’t likely to stop watching any time soon. After all, things have to get better for the Core Four at some point…right?
New episodes of Riverdale Season 5 air on The CW on Wednesdays.