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Riverdale: The Back-In-Their-Day Comparison

The cast of Riverdale surely is stocked with hotties. And Season 3’s “Griffins and Gargoyles” flashback plot line had Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica and the rest of the gang playing as their parents.

But a bevy of Gen-X heart-throb crushes likewise brim with sizzle from their prime, cast now as those Riverdale middle-aged adults. So with time-warps on the table, ReactorFlash explores some side-by-sides to envision Riverdale’s grownups — in their youth — recast as Riverdale teens, with a Back-In-Their-Day comparison.

1. Archie - Present-time KJ Apa vs. 1990s Luke Perry - “Beverly Hills 90210"

KJ Apa’s Archie Anderson dials in a wide-eyed optimism and moral gravity that’s been dulled and tested, confronting the murderous “Black Hood” on top of his stint in juvenile detention and its inmate sport fights. Still, he speaks softly and sings, all the while with muscled arms and abs that glisten.

Enter 1990s Luke Perry, who brought a lean, James Dean cool to blunt the spoiled, poolside layabouts of West Beverly Hills High. Perry held a cynical air and carried streetwise charisma that, as a teen, would have left Riverdale tilting on its heels. Recast like that, Archie would have found his way into the spin-the-bottle closet with Betty Cooper — and later Cheryl “Bombshell” Blossom — not just with Veronica.

2. Jughead - Present-time Cole Sprouse vs. 1990s Skeet Ulrich - “Scream”

Cole Sprouse re-imagines comic book goofball Jughead Jones as a literary and a loner, the prodigal son of the “Serpents” biker gang, living on the fringes among Riverdale’s lowlifes. Seasoned as a child actor, Sprouse brings intellectual scrappiness that continually delivers as character and narrator.

Skeet Ulrich, circa 1996, gave us demented horror movie fan Billy Loomis in the Wes Craven teen horror film, “Scream,” offering moviegoers a charming, cocksure teen intent on living out slasher films in real life. If Sprouse brought layers of grey to Jughead, a teenage Ulrich in Riverdale — with his starch-spoken tone and smoldered stare — would have darkened Jughead to a luring and unpredictable pitch-black.

3. Josie McCoy - Present-time Ashleigh Murray vs 1990s Robin Givens - ”A Rage in Harlem”

Ashleigh Murray’s Riverdale version of Josie McCoy brings steeliness and soul to the lead singer of the Pussycats, intent on not only “making it” in music, but on her terms, with her band’s own material. Murray shows a vulnerability that emerges from the strength she clads like armor, and that lends to a complexity that could have otherwise left the character hollow.

But look back to 1991’s “A Rage in Harlem” and see a Robin Givens absent the directive, scolding tone she adopts as Josie’s mother — and as Riverdale’s mayor. In “A Rage in Harlem,” Givens commanded attention — and stole every scene as the sultry, curvy fixation of every man she crosses. A 1991Givens in Riverdale would steal hearts and stomp on them. She would leave Veronica running for cover and by comparison, would leave Betty as a wallflower overlooked in the high school halls.

4. Veronica Lodge - Present-time Camila Mendes vs 1980s/1990s Gina Gershon - “Showgirls”

Camela Mendes infuses sophistication and sass into Veronica Lodge. She draws Archie’s attention away from Betty, enough to go steady and she stands up to the self-aggrandizing Cheryl Blossom at house parties, the River Vixens locker room and everyplace else.

Unbeknownst to most modern teenage audiences, Jughead’s manipulative and down-and-out mom is played by none other than Gina Gershon, a certified Hollywood hottie circa the the 1980s and 1990s. As the eye candy and love interest in a slew of films, from “Red Heat” to “Cocktail” to “Out For Justice” to “Showgirls” and on, Gershon would bring an edgy allure to rival Mendes’ rendition of Veronica.

5. Cheryl Blossom - Present-time Madelaine Petsch vs 1980s Molly Ringwald - “The Breakfast Club”

Madelaine Petsch earns the title of Riverdale’s lead siren with her fiery hair, dangerous curves, porcelain skin and piercing pushiness. She embodies a pitch-perfect baddie foil to Team B and V (Betty and Veronica) in a role she owns.

While Molly Ringwald portrays Archie’s mom in Riverdale, the 1980s version of her, ah la “The Breakfast Club,” would bring a pensive elitism as the Blossom princess of Thornhill. With it would arrive more subtlety to Cheryl’s plots and backstabs, less skin, but probably a lot more eye rolls and lip bites.

6. Betty Cooper - Present-time Lili Reinhart vs 1980s/1990s Mädchen Amick - “Twin Peaks”

Lili Reinhart is adroit at taking Betty Cooper from a preppy wholesomeness to a the surprising dark side that her character’s arc needs to wade between. To those ends, very, very well-done!

But who knew Betty Cooper’s mom, played by Mädchen Amick, had the goods to lure in viewers in roles from her youth, notably the darkly quirky “Twin Peaks,” with warmup roles on “Baywatch” and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Perhaps less comedic than Reinhart can be, Amick would bring a flirty allure that she’s capable of layering beneath vulnerability.

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