In a recent The Independent article, Riverdale, Dynasty, Bold and the Beautiful and You showrunners broke down the ways their respective shows are adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they’ve been impacted.
For Riverdale, showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa says we’ll sadly be expecting less raunchy scenes between Archie and co in the new season and more mannequins replacing background extras. The show was sadly shut down during the final moments of the gang’s senior year in high school. A prom was filmed, but a graduation was not. So, the CW series plans to use mannequins in the audience at graduation.
“There’s a weird retro 1950s vibe to Riverdale,” Aguirre-Sacasa told The Independent. “One of the things we sometimes do is suggest sex through coded language—I think we’ll almost lean into that melodrama and suggestive behaviour.”
“We’ve done mysterious diseases, so my hope is that Riverdale will be an escape from the real world, rather than a reflection.”
As Bold and the Beautiful executive producer Bradley Bell added, “at first, we took out the love scenes, and the show was falling a little flat because we’re all about romance and family interactions.” Then, they began to look into lifeless stunt doubles for their iconic love scenes.”
“One of the first ideas we had was to bring in mannequins for the intimate scenes and hospital scenes, and it’s working quite well—we’re shooting it from a great distance or in a way you can’t see the form is inanimate.”
These new guidelines—which include aggressive testing of cast and crew, quarantining, on-set medical professionals, camera wizardry, illusion and innuendo-laden scripts with subtext reminiscent of 1970s TV—come from a 36 page document approved by Hollywood’s four major acting unions, SAG-AFTRA, the Directors Guild of America, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the Teamsters.
“You’ve definitely watched a scene where two people are speaking intimately and not noticed that you’re looking over a stunt double’s shoulder, for example,” Netflix's You showrunner Sera Gamble said. “This season, our particular job is to say, ‘Everybody think of 100% of everything you’ve ever done to make something look a certain way on camera, because we’re going to work our way through all of it’.”
“The joke among the writers,” CW’s Dynasty showrunner Josh Reims added, “is that we will watch two characters say they want to have sex and then cut to them saying, ‘That was some great sex’.”
It’s unclear how the effects of COVID-19 will play out into Riverdale’s fifth season, which features a five to six year long time-skip. But, at the very least, Reims hopes the pandemic’s hold on Hollywood won’t last beyond next autumn.