Who’s the Worst Parent on Riverdale? An Investigation

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Photo-Illustration: Maya Robinson/Vulture and Photos by CW

Between this small town’s many shady business dealings and the general grown-up incompetence, we’re amazed the kids of Riverdale get to school at all, much less have time for romantic shenanigans. Sure, the adults are as crush-worthy as the kids, but so far, they’ve brought nearly as much drama to this world as anyone else, and they tend to weigh down the plot with consistently poor decision-making. Using our specific and super-legitimate criteria, we’ve set out to investigate which parent is truly The Worst.

Fred Andrews (Luke Perry)

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Photo: Diyah Pera/Diyah Pera/THE CW

Parent to: Archie
Notable parenting fails: Fred is actually — dare we say? — a pretty solid parent all around. He had some mild assholish moments when he pressured Archie into sticking with football instead of pursuing his passion for music, but he eventually came to his senses. Would we want this guy as our dad? Yup!
Did this parent commit a federal crime? Nope! Good guy.
Camp factor: Uh, Luke Perry plays him.
Likelihood of killing Jason Blossom: Very slim. Luke Perry wouldn’t put us through that.

Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick)

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Photo: Dean Buscher/Dean Buscher/The CW

Parent to: Betty and Polly
Notable parenting fails: Where do we even begin? She abandons a pregnant Polly by making her live alone at a home for “troubled youths” until the child is born and promptly adopted, and tells Betty that her sister is mentally ill. Coupled with the fact she’s a naturally overbearing mother whose sole goal is to seemingly torture Betty into submission, she’s failing all over the place.
Did this parent commit a federal crime? Although she bribes a mortician to give her the scoop on Jason’s death (she’s the editor of the local newspaper), this actually isn’t a federal crime. So she’s in the clear here, but still a despicable human being.
Camp factor: Let’s face it. She’s an absolute delight to watch, and it doesn’t hurt to see Twin Peaks’ Shelly all grown up and portraying a devil woman, either.
Likelihood of killing Jason Blossom: We’re gonna chalk this one up to some solid red herrings and say it would be too obvious if Alice murdered Jason. Is she a terrible parent? Yes. But would she actually murder a teen? We think not.

Hal Cooper (Lochlyn Munro)

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Photo: Dean Buscher/Dean Buscher/The CW

Parent to: Betty and Polly
Notable parenting fails: Hal seems like a nice guy compared to the overbearing Alice, but he still helped hide Polly’s plight from her sister, and then doubled down by trying to convince Betty that she’s crazy when she starts to figure out the truth.
Did this parent commit a federal crime? He stole a police file from Sheriff Keller’s house, so, yeah, he might want to lawyer up.
Camp factor: Hal’s grudge with the Blossoms boils down to a generations-long feud over a maple-syrup fortune. Delicious.
Likelihood of killing Jason Blossom: We’ve got motive (the Coopers hate the Blossoms; Polly’s pregnant with Jason’s child; we already know he stole the sheriff’s files for some nefarious reason) and opportunity (we don’t know where Hal was when Jason was shot). Hal’s currently a top suspect, but maybe that’s just too obvious.

Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins)

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Photo: Dean Buscher/Dean Buscher/The CW

Parent to: Kevin
Notable parenting fails: He’s not a particularly great detective, especially since people keep tampering with his case. But Sheriff Keller seems like a cool enough father and accepting of his son’s sexuality, which is a nice, forward-thinking touch.
Did this parent commit a federal crime? He’s more interested in tracking down all the parents who have.
Camp factor: The sheriff plays things straight, though we do commend his brow game.
Likelihood of killing Jason Blossom: Extremely unlikely, unless he’s a criminal mastermind, but there’s no reason to suspect he’d have anything against Jason.

Penelope Blossom (Nathalie Boltt)

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Photo: Diyah Pera/Diyah Pera/THE CW

Parent to: Cheryl and the deceased Jason
Notable parenting fails: Briefly banning her daughter from pursuing her cheerleading dreams. Filling her son’s memorial with all the people who may have killed him. Obsession with appearances over all else.
Did this parent commit a federal crime? Is glamour a crime?
Camp factor: As high as her arched eyebrows.
Likelihood of killing Jason Blossom: Unless she was aiming at someone else and hit Jason by mistake, there’s no way Penelope would hurt him.

Clifford Blossom (Barclay Hope)

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Photo: Diyah Pera/Diyah Pera/The CW

Parent to: Cheryl and the deceased Jason
Notable parenting fails: Noticeable aggression and animosity toward Cheryl. He’s a grieving father, though, so we’re willing to cut him a little bit of slack.
Did this parent commit a federal crime? Not to our knowledge.
Camp factor: Pretty square guy all-around. And we haven’t really seen any layers to him yet.
Likelihood of killing Jason Blossom: The show would take a very odd turn if it’s revealed a father murdered his own son, but who knows anymore. We’ll file this under “unlikely.”

Mayor Sierra McCoy (Robin Givens)

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Photo: Diyah Pera/Diyah Pera/THE CW

Parent to: Josie
Notable parenting fails: Sierra’s a busy woman, but she manages to show up to her daughter’s performances and support her career, though she can be a pretty intense stage mom, insisting that everyone except Josie is replaceable.
Did this parent commit a federal crime? She accepted a campaign donation from the Lodges in exchange for promising to demolish the drive-in and give them the real estate. Campaign-finance laws are a tricky business, but we’d say that McCoy’s not looking good here.
Camp factor: She’s got great umbrella game.
Likelihood of killing Jason Blossom: Mayor McCoy simply doesn’t have the time in her busy political schedule to shoot a kid.

Myles McCoy (Reese Alexander)

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Parent to: Josie
Notable parenting fails: He constantly mansplains historical facts about jazz and legitimately walks out of Josie’s performance of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” because it doesn’t meet his standards of good music. Is this a joke?!
Did this parent commit a federal crime? If he did, we don’t know about it.
Camp factor: We’re getting less “camp” and more “genuine asshole” here.
Likelihood of killing Jason Blossom: They don’t seem to be connected in any way, and Myles is a touring musician who isn’t home a lot. Low odds.

FP Jones (Skeet Ulrich)

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Photo: Katie Yu/Katie Yu/The CW

Parent to: Jughead
Notable parenting fails: This is another doozy. His various criminal deeds with the South Side Serpents, doubled with his low-functioning alcoholism and drug use, caused Jughead to move out and fend for himself. (So far, he’s lived in a movie theater and an abandoned school closet. Not that his dad cares!) And if abandoning his family weren’t enough, FP throws away the one chance he has to reconcile with his son (and essentially start his life over again) when he walks away from a job at Fred’s construction company … to booze it up in his trailer instead.
Did this parent commit a federal crime? Ding, ding, ding. Several years ago, he embezzled money out of the same construction company that, we soon learn, he actually started with Fred.
Camp factor: Zero to none.
Likelihood of killing Jason Blossom: It might be a little on-the-nose for the show’s Resident Hardened Criminal to be the one who murdered Jason, but let’s face it, this guy is suspicious. Jason’s jacket is hanging in his closet a few scenes after the car it was hidden in was torched by an unknown person. It wouldn’t come as a total shock; at the minimum, he has to be involved somehow.

Hermione Lodge (Marisol Nichols)

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Photo: Dean Buscher/Dean Buscher/The CW

Parent to: Veronica
Notable parenting fails: She often lies to Veronica and tries to force her into helping with her shady business deals; she spends a lot of time fraternizing with local gangs; and she flirts with Veronica’s friend’s parents. Call it the Gossip Girl school of bad parenting.
Did this parent commit a federal crime? She forged her daughter’s signature on a legal document and paid off the mayor. Plus, we’re pretty sure that she was more involved in her husband’s business than either of them would like to admit.
Camp factor: As intense as her love of gloves and statement jewelry.
Likelihood of killing Jason Blossom: The Lodges didn’t come to town until after Jason’s murder, so this seems unlikely.

The Verdict

So far, FP’s plotline combines the holy trinity of abandonment, tragedy, and all varieties of criminal conspiracy. Sure, this probably means Riverdale will try to redeem him, but for now, he’s our clear Worst Parent. Congratulations!

Who’s the Worst Parent on Riverdale? An Investigation