The CW’s spring hit Riverdale, a very loose adaptation of the classic Archie comics, was popular enough to justify a season 2 premiere date this October. A neon-tinted Twin Peaks-lite, the show captured a huge young audience drawn in by the return of Disney Channel’s Cole Sprouse; a hip, eclectic soundtrack; and the endless possible romantic pairings carried over from the comics.
The teens of the internet were clearly in the forefront of the writers’ minds during the first season: they swapped romantic partners around like a game of musical chairs, gave Sprouse half a dozen GIF-able monologues, and borrowed liberally from the lingo of fandom bloggers and fan fiction writers on Tumblr and Archive of Our Own.
It’s no surprise that writers would return to the pool of free ideas on the web when cooking up season 2. Based on a tweet from Riverdale creator and Archie Comics COO Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, it looks like the upcoming season took some inspiration from Reddit. As pointed out by io9, Aguirre-Sacasa’s tease “Lock your doors #Riverdale… the Sugar Man is coming,” could refer to a monster who hunts for candy in suburban homes and, apparently, eats the children who live there if he’s left unsatiated.
According to Reddit user chokingmn, “his tongue is long, longer than a dog or a snake and it’s sharp, flicking out, looking for the sugar.” So, maybe you have that to look forward to on TV this fall. And since Jason — one of the children in the drawing — died in the pilot of season 1, maybe you also have some ghosts to look forward to.
The first season of Riverdale was delicious, off-the-rails, melodramatic entertainment, so honestly? The weirder, the better for season 2.
Some fans in the replies of Aguirre-Sacasa’s tweet have pointed out that “sugar” could simply be a reference to the bonkers plotline in season 1, wherein it was revealed that the Blossom family’s maple syrup business was a front for trafficking cocaine. But, to entertain the more interesting conclusion: Sugar Man appears in a story on Reddit’s r/nosleep, a popular subreddit that’s a hybrid between classic campfire stories and a toned-down versions of the seedier, weirder stuff you’d find during the height of 4chan’s creepypasta era. The mysterious, male, supernatural child-murderer is a trope of internet horror writing, part of a tradition started by the once-ubiquitous character Slenderman.
You can find dozens of stories in r/nosleep about other monsters who are barely differentiated from this archetype of an amorphous, omniscient, scary dude with unclear motives — see Lollipop Man, The Man in the Overcoat, The Fire Man, The Mango Man, The Ice Cream Man, and The Skinny Man, just for starters.
The teaser lends credence to rumors that Riverdale’s second season would move on from the classic whodunnit from season 1 and into more supernatural territory. Aguirre-Sacasa has given several interviews in which he expressed interest in introducing Sabrina the Teenage Witch into the story, telling ComicBook.com in May, “We are going to continue exploring the idea of the supernatural being on the fringes of Riverdale, and that might be to lead up to Sabrina’s arrival or that might just be to make it more like Twin Peaks and the way they dealt with the supernatural.” In the season finale in May, Jughead’s father was shown reading a Sabrina comic in his jail cell, and Aguirre-Sacasa teased Sabrina’s appearance again at Comic-Con in June.
The second season of Riverdale premieres on October 11th on The CW.