Thu. Feb 25th, 2021

The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Musical episodes need to end

3 min read

Riverdale's episode based on the musical Heathers is a flop. (


Staff Writer

Musical episodes of television shows are nothing new, but they need to be put to rest, at least the way they are going. The musical genre has a specific target audience and actors that are hired for their musical prowess. However, the growing popularity of television series hosting special musical features makes me cringe more than clap. It’s time to let it go–no pun intended.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy and so many more have featured these episodes, and are received with mixed reviews. When conducting an episode filled with musical numbers, actors and actresses’ strengths and weaknesses are taken into consideration and those who can sing are given notes to sing within their range. Done right, the songs don’t disrupt the storytelling.

However, many musical episodes are just unacceptable, the main recent examples being from repeat offenders “Riverdale” and “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” which coincide in the same universe.

“Sabrina” sprinkles odd and jolting numbers into episodes. One particularly horrific number occurred when the bayside cheerleaders take on the number “Tricky” by Run-DMC. It didn’t drive the plot, and it certainly wasn’t fun to watch. This was bad enough, but later in the newest season, the same cheerleader group performs the song “Hey Mickey” during the seemingly penultimate ceremony, which completely takes the viewer out of the seriousness of the situation.

They even went as far as to have their trailer for the first part of the second season be a music video in which Kiernan Shipka pranced around singing about going to hell for love. The idea of a music video as a trailer is creative and could be a really good concept–if it wasn’t an awkward, cringy, three-minute mess. Shipka by no means is a bad singer, but her singing talent isn’t at the level where it would make sense that she would be in a music video.

“Sabrina” seems to have been influenced by “Riverdale,” which has been jamming songs into episodes since season one which have no point other than to sexualize its teenage characters and embarrass the actors. Even Cole Sprouse sings, although he was previously adamant about not doing so, having escaped his Disney career without a record deal. After hearing him sing, it becomes clear why that was never offered to him.

Riverdale’s biggest offender was their musical episode where they tried to pay homage to the musical rendition of Heathers– tried being the operative word. What they released to the masses was an auto-tuned mess that not only disrespects the hard work of Broadway performers who perform those songs live, but their own actors with a poor production decision.

I know there is no way that whoever orchestrates the musical portions of “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” and “Riverdale” would somehow pick up this article and see the error of their ways. They have proven that they don’t know how to make good decisions–even if they don’t like it, ratings are what’s most important in their world.

I’m just hoping that this will act as a plea to the poor souls who listen and enjoy these musical numbers: Get better taste.

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