There's no question that Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has a real passion for true crime. Not only did he write 2014's inspired-by-a-true-story horror remake The Town That Dreaded Sundown (which he made the title of a Riverdale episode), he also crafted season 2 of Riverdale around the Black Hood killing, which were deeply influenced by those of real serial murderer the Zodiac Killer.
So, when it came time for season 3, fans could only expect more references to real crime — in addition to lots of made-for-the-screen macabre. However, even the most eagle-eyed Riverdale fan may have missed a true crime-inspired moment that showrunner Aguirre-Sacasa slipped into the season 3 premiere.
I certainly did — but fortunately, Refinery29's TV writer Ariana Romero did not. She pointed out that when Archie (K.J. Apa) is sent to juvenile detention, the name of that juvenile centre is none other than The Leopold & Loeb Juvenile Detention Centre.
If this doesn't mean much to you, let's unspool who Leopold and Loeb were. Fair warning: It's very creepy.
Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were wealthy students at the University of Chicago who decided one day that they really wanted to understand what it was like to kill someone. In 1924, they found out — by kidnapping and murdering 14-year-old Robert "Bobby" Franks. Leopold and Loeb were sent to prison for a life sentence, where the latter was murdered. Leopold was released on parole in 1958.
In a 2013 interview with Comics Alliance pegged to his series Afterlife With Archie, Aguirre-Sacasa talked about how this famous crime influenced a play that he wrote in university.
"It's the kind of play that grad students write, and it was about the Archie comic book characters and a mash-up between them and the Leopold and Loeb murders, which you may be familiar with," said the would-be Riverdale creator. "Leopold and Loeb were very famous teenagers in the 1920s in Chicago who decided to thrill-kill somebody just for the intellectual experience of it. The Alfred Hitchcock movie Rope is based on them. It was a very sensational trial, and they were described as these two all-American teenagers who had become murderers, and I thought it would be fun to combine the Archie characters and their comic book morality with Leopold and Loeb, who were totally amoral and see what happened."
While the play was never adapted into a film (Hitchcock based Rope off a play of the same name) Leopold and Loeb did get a television shout-out thanks to Riverdale. Will more than just the name of the detention centre connect back with this horrific crime? Given Loeb's murdered-behind-bars fate, let's hope not for Archie's sake.
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