When POPSUGAR and a group of reporters caught up with Cole Sprouse and Lili Reinhart at WonderCon, we had to get the unavoidable topic out of the way right from the get-go: "Bughead." And can you blame us? We've been shipping Betty and Jughead since the start of our Riverdale obsession, and there's no better source to discuss the fan-favourite pairing than the character-actors themselves!
When POPSUGAR asked Sprouse and Reinhart how they felt about the passionate fan reaction to Bughead, Cole's response was immediate. "Aroused!" he joked, adding a more serious response: "Uh yeah, it's flattering that people like it as much as they do."
"They're both kind of on the outside a little bit, and I think that's what brings them together."
Reinhart chimed in with a thoughtful reply, alluding to the pairing's comic origins: "I think because it's a little bit unexpected in a way, you know, because Jughead is kinda doing his own thing in the comics, so to see him relate to a girl is — you know, people are excited about that."
Sprouse agreed. "In multiple iterations he's asexual, in some iterations he's aromantic, and I think because this is a new universe this is definitely a different iteration," he explained of Jughead and the decision to cast him as Betty's suitor. "This is something that was kind of uncharted territory, and we didn't really know if it was gonna take. But it did, and people really love it. It got a huge response." And "huge response" is an understatement — the Bughead tags on Twitter and Tumblr are full of everything from fan fiction to dramatic memes.
When it comes to the reason why their characters make so much sense together, Reinhart feels passionately that it is actually Betty and Jughead's mutual alienation that draws them together. "Betty was always rejected by Archie, and he [Jughead] was always there to be the shoulder to cry on," she explained, continuing: "I think from our show's perspective, they're both so opposite on the outside in their appearances, but they're very similar on the inside; they're both kinda these tortured souls in a way, don't you think? So I mean, they're both kind of on the outside a little bit, and I think that's what brings them together."
Later, Sprouse shared his own take on why Betty and Jughead work so well together, both as a crime investigation team and as a romantic pairing:
"I think both of them have a great appreciation and nostalgia and fondness for a more pure, more better version of Riverdale . . . a more wholesome version of Riverdale. And so I think that yearning to sort of prove that it can still be a place that is good and not some sort of place of darkness is what drove them both to really, truly see it take that iteration once again: a more childlike, a more beautiful, flowery kind of iteration. And I think that similar passion is also the thing that sort of brought them close at the end of the day, and I think there's truth in that."
Hear that? It's the sound of the entire Bughead fandom sighing at once, us included. We can't wait to see what's in store for the couple; nothing could possibly go wrong with a couple whose foundation is murder mystery, right? And luckily for the show's fandom, it sounds like there's even more in store for Jughead and Betty in future seasons.
The producers of Riverdale later informed reporters that the plan for a Jughead/Betty pairing was already in motion by the time Jughead's asexuality was first mentioned in the comics, which explains the decision to include a romantic storyline for Sprouse's character. However, they also noted that they aren't opposed to exploring the concept of Jughead as asexual within the confines of a romantic relationship.
This idea begs the question: does that mean there are more Bughead-focused episodes on the horizon? Only time will tell.