Wait, I'm Sorry, WHEN Does 'Riverdale' Take Place Now?

For once, the biggest mystery on Riverdale has nothing to do with serial killer genes, candy laced with drugs, college admissions, or hippie cults. Figuring out when Riverdale takes place is now the most prominent WTF on this bonkers program. It’s always been low-key weird that the kids on Riverdale rock sweater sets and hang out at a soda fountain like it’s the 1950s. But thanks to the show’s pop culture references and smartphones, we’ve all generally accepted that the vintage vibe is simply as an aesthetic, and Riverdale takes place more or less in the present day. At least, so we thought.

In the “Graduation” episode, Cheryl opens a time capsule from the Class of 1945 on its 75th anniversary. Even Archie Andrews can do the math and get that 1945+75=2020. The main characters on the series were high school sophomores in season 1, which aired in 2017, so it makes sense that the first four seasons have been taking place between 2017 and 2020. That all makes sense to me. Everything’s good so far. I’m even happy to accept that there’s no COVID-19 pandemic in the fictional world of Riverdale. Those teens don’t need the added stress. It doesn’t have to be exactly our 2020 as long as we know it’s 2020 generally.

But the thing is, Riverdale then proceeds to jump seven years into the future. So it should be like 2027, right? Wrong! If that is the case tell me why, in the very next episode “Purgatorio,” does Veronica say to her husband, “It’s 2021, Chad, haven’t you heard? You really can have it all.” It’s not a flashback to life immediately post-graduation. They’re celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary. From the bottom of my heart: HUH?????? I know it felt like time didn’t matter in 2020, but Riverdale just made that sensation literal.

Is Veronica joking? I’ve been known to say things like “it’s the ’90s” when I’m making a sarcastic comment about feminism or technology. But “2021” is oddly specific for a joke.

Am I being gaslit? Is this a gaslighting? Are you trying to make me believe that Riverdale has been taking place in 20112014, a.k.a. the recent past, this whole time? What about that time in season 2 when they all went to see Love, Simon (2018) in theaters? What about the time capsule we all witnessed literally one episode ago that placed their graduation in 2020? Spoiler alert: you can spend a lot of time going through every mentioned date on Riverdale and you won’t come up to any meaningful conclusion.

What if the town of Riverdale is some kind of reverse-Brigadoon/Shangri-La/Narnia where time moves faster than it does in the real world—and when people like Veronica emerge and move to New York City to start their lives anew, it’s seven years in the past? What if this is a secret crossover with Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and the teenage witch did a spell that effed up the timeline?

Honestly, you could give me any tinfoil hat explanation at this point and I’d probably believe you. It’s Riverdale. Seven years have passed but also no years have passed. Veronica was right, you really can have it all.

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