When is Riverdale set? The seven-year time jump explained

Emily Gulla
·3-min read
Photo credit: Riverdale - Netflix
Photo credit: Riverdale - Netflix

From Cosmopolitan

Riverdale season 5 has finally dropped on Netflix and, as per usual for Riverdale, the plot has got some fans pretty confused.

Warning: spoilers ahead.

If you're up to date with the latest episodes to drop on Netflix, you'll have seen that episode 3, 'Graduation', sees the cast graduate high school, while the following episode, 'Purgatorio', sees the characters return to Riverdale as adults years later.

So, when exactly is Riverdale set now, and what has happened during the time jump?

As of episode 4, the show has jumped forward seven years into the future, but it's not clear whether this means the show is now taking place in the present day or beyond.

Although the Riverdale aesthetic is pretty vintage and ambiguous, it's thought that up until episode 4 the show was taking place in the present day. Eagle-eyed viewers spotted that in the 'Graduation' episode (episode 3) Cheryl opens a time capsule from the class of 1945 on its 75th anniversary, meaning that they're living in the year 2020.

So, taking into account the seven-year time jump, that would mean that episode 4 ('Purgatorio') is taking place around 2027, right? Hmm... not quite.

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

To make things even more confusing, in episode 4, 'Purgatorio', Veronica is seen telling her now-husband Chad, "It’s 2021, Chad, haven’t you heard? You really can have it all."

Is it 2021 or 2027? We're not sure.

When quizzed on the timeline, Riverdale creator and executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told ET Online, "I mean the aesthetic will always be timeless, but we did let that go. It's funny and I'm not sure, but I think in some banner in the graduation episode, it says 'Congratulations Class of 2021.'"

Basically, it's all very confusing. Was Veronica breaking the fourth wall? Or is there something more spooky at play?

Explaining why Riverdale producers chose to include the time jump in the first place, Aguirre-Sacasa told Entertainment Weekly, "We did decide very quickly because all of the kids were seemingly going to different colleges and we didn't want them to all go to, like, Riverdale University. And in terms of drama, for me, college is a less appealing version of high school stories.

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

"In terms of what we're most excited about is that after four seasons of pretty elaborate, complicated storytelling, this time jump allows us to start with a clean slate, drop in the middle of stories and then have people catch up. And it allows us to play new dynamics."

But that doesn't mean we won't get to hear what the characters have been up to during the seven year gap.

Aguirre-Sacasa continued, "We are going to be unpacking the seven years throughout the season and in a way, I think a theme of the season is trauma and how our different characters deal with trauma and how that kept them from fully thriving in their new lives. But we will be filling in the blanks, absolutely."

We can't wait!

Season 5 of Riverdale is available to watch on Netflix now, with more episodes dropping throughout February and March.

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