‘Riverdale’: The Secret Meaning Behind the Numbers On the Shirts in ‘Random Number Generation’ Performance

Riverdale‘s “Chapter Seventy-Four: Wicked Little Town” gave fans songs from the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The cast — including Cole Sprouse — performed several songs from the Broadway hit, including “Midnight Radio” and “Random Number Generation.” 

The cast wore shirts with numbers during that scene, leaving fans to wonder what the numbers symbolized. Lili Reinhart took to Twitter to explain what they meant. 

'Riverdale' cast perform 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch'
Cast of ‘Riverdale’ on The CW | Art Streiber/The CW

‘Hedwig’s lyricist really wanted to work on ‘Riverdale’ 

Hedwig and the Angry Inch lyricist Stephen Trask is a fan of Riverdale, so he reached out to the show’s Chief Creative Officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa about working together. Trask explained to Rolling Stone why he wanted to work with award-winning playwright Aguirre-Sacasa:

I love [Roberto’s] vision. He brings a lot of the elements in of Douglas Sirk-style melodrama with a telenovela kind of thing and also Americana and the teen drama thing. It’s walking a tightrope to bring those things together and have them sing. I reached out to him to just kind of meet and see if we could do something together and said what a fan I was of Riverdale. It turned out that they were, at the time, looking for a musical to do.

Trask got more than he could ever imagine when Aguirre-Sacasa told him he wanted to incorporate Trask’s songs from Hedwig in an episode of the series. 

The cast of ‘Riverdale’ performed ‘Random Number Generation’ 

In “Chapter Seventy-Four: Wicked Little Town,” Principal Honey slowly stripped away Kevin’s creative power over the school’s variety show because he didn’t agree with music from Hedwig and the Angry Inch being performed. 

Floored by Mr. Honey’s censorship, Kevin recruited the help of his Riverdale High classmates to belt out “Random Number Generation,” a song that captures the rage that is born out of not being seen or heard for who you really are.

To drive home the point that each student was feeling like a cog in a machine, show-runners put the cast members in numbered shirts. According to Reinhart, there was a special meaning behind those numbers.

The meaning behind everyone’s number

The song may be titled “Random Number Generation,” but the numbers on each cast member’s shirt were anything but. “We are wearing our cast numbers on our shirts,” Reinhart tweeted after the episode aired. 

She specified how everyone’s call sheets were numbered. In show business, a call sheet serves as the schedule for the actors, telling the cast and crew where and when they need to be to film their scenes. 

A typical call sheet has a cast list on it with each cast members call time. The shirt each cast member was wearing during the “Random Number Generation” scene signified their place on the call sheet.

Naturally, KJ Apa was number one, with Reinhart just behind him at number two. Camila Mendes was three, and Cole Sprouse was number four. Madeline Petsch was fifth in line on the call sheet — did you notice her special red number?

Related: ‘Riverdale’: Cole Sprouse Really Sang During the ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ Episode