Is Riverdale Season 7 actually set in the 1950s?

Lucy-Jo Finnighan
Riverdale season 7

Riverdale Season 7 sets the show back in time to the 1950s, but how did we get here, and will this setting last?

Love it or hate it, Riverdale, the drama-mystery series that brought Archie Comics characters to life in variously wacky ways, has certainly made a name for itself in pop culture. We enjoyed this season, and you can read our review of the first three episodes here.

Now, the popular CW series has finally come to an end, with its seventh season being its last – and it’s certain to go out with a bang. But one thing that’s setting this season apart is, funnily enough, its setting: the 1950s.

But how did we get here? And is the situation real, or some kind of bad trip from one of the characters? Well, let us explain…

Is Riverdale Season 7 set in the 1950s?

As of the show’s final episode, yes, they are actually in the 1950s. This is a result of Tabitha, who is a Guardian Angel, weaving all the different Riverdale timelines and multiverses together into a single path. By choosing to keep them in 1955, she placed the characters in their original Archie Comics atmosphere. And it doesn’t seem like they’re heading back to the future.

As we state in our review of the first three episodes of the season, “the season opens with the Bill Haley classic Rock around the Clock, along with an opening sequence akin to the Brady Bunch. Everyone is back in Riverdale, back in high school, and… back in the 1950s?”

We see the characters act in typical 1950s fashion as well, suggesting they’re not faking their new life. Multiple episodes of Season 7 features themes of gender roles, racism and activism – Emmet Till is even a plot point here. The LGBTQ+ characters are all at first paired up straight; Betty and Kevin are dating, as are Archie and Cheryl, though things quickly revert to how queer they once were. There’s also the subject of Communism and the atomic bomb, which are major plots in later episodes.

However, one character is aware that they’re not supposed to be here. As stated at the end of Season 6, “I’m the only one who remembers what life was like B.C. – Before Comet.” This line is said by our narrator Jughead Jones, who is initially resistant to the time shift, but as Season 7 goes on, eventually forgets himself.

But his memories come flooding back when Tabitha, who Jughead dated, reveals herself to be a guardian angel from the future. With a TV set, she shows Jughead a vision of the future, meaning that she literally shows him previous clips from Riverdale. Jughead is reduced to tears, stating “I remember everything.” Tabitha tells him that the social progress the characters have made over the course of Season 7 is helping the multiverse heal, and she has even incorporated all the other timelines into this one to stabilize it.

Tabitha explains that she can’t send our cast back to the present, but she can show them what it was like, both the good and the bad. The gang heads to Veronica’s movie theater to watch, and when Tabitha offers to wipe their memories of the bad, only Jughead and Betty choose to remember everything.

And when Jughead questions whether what he and Tabitha had was real, she states, “Of course it was real. Just like this was real. It was all real. It all happened.”

Then, in the final episode, we do get a glimpse at this universes’ modern day, though we don’t stay there for long. As an ageing Betty lays in her deathbed, her granddaughter agrees to take her for a trip down to Riverdale one last time. During this time, Betty is visited in her mind by Jughead – though keep in mind that Betty is the only remaining character in Riverdale to still be alive.

Betty is transported back to the 1950s, to her final day in High School, and through Betty’s eyes, all of the show’s character’s fates are revealed. They all remain in the 1950s, and build lives for themselves in the decades that proceed it.

Then, as Betty and her granddaughter reach Pop’s Diner, Betty dies, and finds herself in a 1950s version of the afterlife, where she enjoys a milkshake with all her old friends, as Riverdale finally comes to a close after seven long seasons.

Why is Riverdale Season 7 set in the 1950s?

In literal terms of why they’re in the 1950s, lets rehash what happened in Season 6. This season began a supernatural route, with the gang themselves having superpowers.

At the season’s finale, a villainous sorcerer made it so that deadly comet was heading for Riverdale. Thankfully, Veronica was able to absorb the team’s powers via a blood transfer, and she then gave all of them to Cheryl through a kiss, which gave Cheryl – and her phoenix powers – the ability to melt the comet. However, this then suddenly led to the characters waking up in the 1950s, with many of them having no recollection of what happened before.

Now, in regards to why the show’s creators wanted to take the show back in time, there are a few reasons. One, because it relates back to the original Archie comics, and those call-backs have always been popular amongst fans.

Secondly, because this is the final season, and as Aguirre-Sacasa told TV Line, “we all kind of hunkered down and thought: ‘What can we do that is really, really special? What stories can we tell that will be fresh and meaningful?’”

And thirdly, because it allows for a dissection of the ’50s themselves. Aguirre-Sacasa continued: “It would be disingenuous to erase the real struggles and hardships that certain types of people faced in the 1950s. Specifically, in our case, our characters of color and our queer characters. You just could not be out. In some states, it was illegal for there to be interracial marriage. That was the reality.”

Therefore, the final season will really take to task the era in which the Archie franchise was born, along with a central villain being “the conformity of the 1950s, the repressiveness of the 1950s, the racism of the 1950s, the sexism of the 1950s, the homophobia of the 1950s.”

Check out the rest of our Riverdale coverage here.

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