Riverdale and Carrie: The Musical are a glorious match made in the most wonderful hell


Riverdale and Carrie: The Musical are awesome together. The teen soap out does itself again, and the mashup is a match made in hell.

After a three week hiatus Riverdale is back and man, I’m impressed. Hold on while I stand and applaud because this musical episode featuring the American horror classic is nothing short of fabulous.

I’ll spare you the gushing over choreography and costumes and skip straight to the genius parallels. The show could not have picked a more allegorical story to take on. For those not in the know, Carrie (and its musical reimagining) takes on the story of a telekinetic girl who gets bullied very badly by her high school peers.

She loses her mind at the prom (after being doused in pig blood) and lights the school on fire with her mind. She also has a terrible mother who abuses her and often locks her in the closet.

Of course, Cheryl takes the title role of Carrie, and belts out a rendition of the title track, “Carrie,” that is chillingly succinct. She sings, “Someone will know my name” with a conviction that would bring any house, high school or not.  The song almost, quite literally, brings the house down as a sandbag lands menacingly near her feet.

Although the sandbag bit is just a build up for the episode’s hellish end (I’ll get to that in a second), Cheryl personifies this character in a creepy and unsettling way.

It becomes apparent that Cheryl is not only figuratively embodies the troubled Carrie, but by episode’s end, she has quite literally become Carrie. After her mother tries to squash her dreams of playing Carrie on stage, Cheryl takes revenge on her mother. Showing up in full Carrie costume, pig blood and all, she threatens her.

She tells Penelope (who is the actual worst) she wants to be emancipated, and having already burned down one house, she is not afraid to burn down another. She leans and and whispers, “You and Claudius are pig people, and you should live among the pig people.”

Veronica, in a much less overtly menacing role, takes on the character of Chris Hargensen. Chris is Carrie’s main tormentor and the resident mean girl. She’s spoiled, entitled and totally under her daddy’s thumb. Sound familiar to all you Riverdale fans?

Veronica does her level best to deliver “The World According to Chris,” a catchy tune that reveals Chris’ attitude. During rehearsals, Betty’s scoffs and eyerolls can’t be ignored, and their feud bubbles up to the surface right there in front of everyone.

Betty’s good girl character, Sue Snell, doesn’t have much to do besides rock those Farrah Fawcett waves. Archie’s and her ballad gets hijacked by a “yay for girlfriends” moment. Although Betty and Veronica have been fighting in real life, they use what was meant to be a love song between Betty’s Sue and Archie’s Tommy as a way to reconcile their friend love. It’s a little on the nose, but it’s pretty typical of Riverdale to steal a love triangle’s thunder by promoting a strong female friendship.

The big reveal, and most Riverdale-y moment of the night, comes at the simultaneous end of the play and episode. Alice, sings one of the final numbers, “Evening Prayers,” a song in which Carrie’s mother implores the Lord to stifle her daughter’s burgeoning sexuality. Alice may not have Margaret’s religious values, but she certainly has a controlling streak in her, and this casting is a hilarious barb at Alice’s particular parenting style.

The hilarity stops there. As Alice as Margaret calls for Carrie to come from the closet, she sees Midge (understudy for Cheryl), stabbed and dead on the wall with a message from the Black Hood scrawled in blood.

Of course the Black Hood is back, and what better way to announce his return than in the final moments of play at a high school? Well played Riverdale. Never say Riverdale is losing its flair for the dramatic, or for the thinly veiled allegory.

Bits and pieces we probably need to talk about:

  • Archie returned the Firebird to Hiram after a guilty exchange with his father. Is Archie coming back from the dark side?
  • The budding romance between FP and Alice stalled now that she’s reconciling with Hal. Let the record show: Boo!
  • Jughead is a terrible stalker, and he gets caught every time he’s using that camera to snoop around corners. Also, who still uses a camcorder anymore? Also, also, the whole “shaky cam documentary” thing is tired. It’s time to find another trope.
  • Cheryl and Josie make up, too. I guess all it takes to get over someone sending you a pig heart is an earnest cover of “Unsuspecting Hearts.”
  • Chic is definitely not Hal’s baby, but we still don’t know who just yet. You can guess for whom I’m rooting. (Duh, it’s FP.)
  • Alice gets several emotional scenes, and I certainly hope they are going to continue to write her as an actual human, not a robot trying to pass as one.
  • In an (okay, I’ll admit it) sweet attempt to rekindle things with his dad, Archie also gets the junkyard jalopy his dad thought they’d fix up together. It’s a rare “Archie isn’t such a dolt” moment.

Next: Enough with the kid stuff, Riverdale: Let the adults talk

Catch up on Riverdale on the CW app and website, and then head back here for our post-Riverdale rehash and confab.