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Riverdale and the Glorification of Illicit Student-Teacher Affairs

*** Warning, this article does contain spoilers

With Cole Sprouse coming back into the spotlight, many teens are latching on to the new CW show, Riverdale.

The story revolves around several characters at Riverdale High School as they slowly unravel a summer murder mystery and struggle through the relationships of teenage years. However, from the very first episode, it was obvious these weren’t normal high school relationships. Archie Andrews, the once nerdy but now buff, obsessed with singing, main character, had a summer affair with his teacher Ms. Grundy. She also happens to be the music teacher.

The audience only receives snippets of their relationship which started with Ms. Grundy approaching Archie. This plot manages to explore the possibility of a female teacher as the predator, while making her drop dead gorgeous instead of a suspicious looking old man. This equality and more diverse representation kept fans hopeful about how the story would turn out. Unfortunately, while Riverdale has done a good job of making clear it was not an abusive relationship and Ms. Grundy doesn’t want anything to continue further, this week’s episode was a let down.

The Archie/Grundy plot line has been coming to a head and most expect a big blow up. Betty Cooper, Archie’s childhood BFF and conflicted love interest, finds out about the affair and despite her attempts to reason with him, Archie continuously defends his teacher and seems to genuinely care about the relationship. When Ms. Grundy hears about the drama between Betty and Archie, she simply leaves.

She just packs up her bags and leaves town.

By letting Ms. Grundy get away scot-free, Riverdale, although maybe unintentionally, isn’t attacking the issue face on. Illicit student-teacher affairs are nothing to joke about and many are not consensual. There are millions of people in the world who have suffered trauma because of similar instances in school and it is not a topic to be discussed lightly. This is also most likely not the last we will see of Ms. Grundy as she is rumored to have had connections with another student, which just makes the whole ordeal even more uncomfortable. The thought that Ms. Grundy could have had affairs with multiple high school boys within a year or so, is rather disturbing. All in all, it’s inconsiderate and unprofessional of the writers to leave such a major and delicate story line hanging. Hopefully, we will be pleasantly surprised in the episodes to come.

Riverdale airs on Thursdays on the CW at 9/8C.

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Ariel Zedric is a student at Tufts University. When she's not studying, you can find her wandering around on her blog at arielzedric.wordpress.com. Contact via email at ariel.zedric@gmail.com or on Twitter or Instagram @arielzedric

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