[Note: Spoilers for Riverdale]
Now that the pilot episode of Riverdale has aired, we can see what differences there may be between the script that Bleeding Cool reviewed and the show that aired on our screens.
There were a number of changes throughout, many of which are likely played for time, or so that the audience isn’t bombarded with too many new characters all at once. For example, in the script, the falling out between Archie (K. J. Apa) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is played out more, though it is still a mystery what happened. Also, Jughead has a hearing aid, which didn’t make the show. Polly (an unseen Tiera Skovbye), Betty’s (Lili Reinhart) sister who is discussed several times in the show that aired but never appeared, did actually have a couple of scenes in the script…and in fact, one of her lines is re-attributed to her mother in the opening scenes.
But perhaps the biggest changes revolved around Kevin Keller (Casey Cott). More than changing from blonde to brunette, Kevin is actually quite significantly toned down in the aired episode compared to the original script. I had previously discussed how Kevin in the script is a far more sexually aggressive character, and one who was interesting to see for a teen gay character after years of desexualised gay characters on TV.
When we meet Kevin in the show, he is at Betty’s house as she prepares to go out with Archie. This is exactly as it was in the script, and as in the script he’s talking to her about whether the time is right to go out with Archie, and also be with him sexually, and he is also the one to point out that a topless Archie is now more muscular. However, he is still significantly different.
In the script, the very first lines between Betty and Kevin are about how Kevin had arranged a hook up, a casual sexual encounter, but changed his mind at the suggestion of a truck stop restroom hook-up. He also makes a joke about staying in and watching gay porn, but not going home because his home life is not that happy, as his father is deeply homophobic. He also actively talks about trawling through gay dating (and hook-up) app, Grindr.
Later in the episode, Kevin comes rushing over to tell Betty how he was hit on in the bathrooms by Moose (Cody Kearsley), and makes implications about, well, I’m sure you can imagine. Later, and finally, Kevin and Moose are heading to the waters edge, where it’s implied they’ll have sex after skinny dipping, and Moose affirms he isn’t gay, leaving Kevin to make a passing comment about closeted straight men.
However, in the script, the scene at the dance actually features Kevin and a British exchange student named Devin, who is described as handsome, and is his date. At the waters edge, again, they are heading for skinny dipping and more definitely sex, as Devin asks Kevin what his preferred roles are sexually and Kevin says he is versatile.
On the page, we were presented with a more sex oriented Kevin, one that showed a side of gay life that, whilst may be considered a stereotype and has been seen a little in older characters, is generally far less common in terms of how gay men are represented on TV generally than you might think. It’s probably also worth noting how his potential love interest is removed entirely, replaced with a closeted other character who may not want a relationship, lest it out him.
The screen Kevin does push boundaries a little – he is still implied to be sexually active, and not in a relationship. But he’s not as in the audiences face about it. It is toned down quite significantly.
Why? Perhaps it is the characters age, he is after all a teenager. Showing this kind of sexually active and promiscuity may be acceptable for an older character like Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee) in How to Get Away With Murder, but a character in his late teens, at an age where in some States, such activity wouldn’t be legal? Maybe it’s about being seen to advertise a particular app like Grindr, or worrying about any association with it.
Or perhaps the studio baulked at the notion of showing a gay teen as sexually forthright as their heterosexual counterparts. After all, several straight male characters make crass comments about sex with women, and Archie has a steamy, on-camera sex scene with his teacher, Miss Grundy (Sarah Habel).
Perhaps allowing the gay character an equal amount of sexual representation like that was still a boundary too far.