Riverdale, The CW's hit drama set in the world of Archie Comics, has always thrived on a clever blend of obvious and obscure pop culture references. Just a few weeks ago the show built an entire episode around a production of Carrie: The Musical, and here at SYFY WIRE we've already covered how well the show works with all manner of references to classic horror. Well, Riverdale can do full-on commercial parodies, too.
To promote the arrival of the show's second season, which ended less than two weeks ago, on Netflix, the streaming giant and the series teamed up to produce an ad that's a direct homage to the iconic 1997 "Frying Pan" PSA from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Starring Rachael Leigh Cook, the ad presented a more extreme version of the original 1987 "Frying Pan" PSA (famous for its use of the phrase "This is your brain on drugs") and featured Cook using a frying pan to destroy a kitchen as a metaphor for what happens to one's life after heroin use. Not exactly the sort of cheery thing you'd expect to see used to promote a CW TV show, right?
Well, Riverdale's version turns out to be quite fun, because it's built on the premise that the titular town's drug problem is built entirely upon a made-up substance with the extremely silly name of "Jingle Jangle." The nondescript drug serves as a catch-all for any drug-related plots that come up on the show (and there are quite a few of those in Season 2), which means that various characters have to spend quite a bit of time dramatically and emotionally saying "Jingle Jangle" to each other over and over. It works in the context of Riverdale, but if you're a fan you can recognize how odd it is. The show recognizes it too, and to prove it they had Veronica (Camila Mendes) wreck Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe with a fying pan to warn you of the harmful effects of Jingle Jangle.
As with most parodies and homages strewn throughout Riverdale's first two seasons, it works because Mendes is completely committed to the bit... at least until the end, when another character makes a cameo. Even if you're in the young segment of Riverdale's audiences, you probably get the joke here, and if you didn't initially understand the reference you can probably still appreciate the humor in this all taking place over something that is, again, called "Jingle Jangle." Riverale's self-awareness is one of the pillars of its success, and this is proof that that hasn't gone anywhere.
Riverdale returns for a third season on The CW this fall. Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.