It's a mystery that's gripped us harder than Jason Blossom's murder or the identity of Fred Andrews' shooter: why are there so many gingers in Riverdale? No, seriously, sometimes we feel crazy about it. Not since Hogwarts has there been so many effing gingers in one school, let alone redheads with porcelain freckleless skin.
And while the Sparknotes answer to this is definitely, "Because there were a lot of redheads in the original Archie Comics," we decided this needed a more thorough investigation. Not because it's a bad thing, just because it's a rare thing… and we do question the genetic and statistic possibilities.
Population of Redheads
So to begin with, only one to two percent of the world has naturally red hair. Like, are we supposed to believe that the entire percentage lives in a random perpetually snowy small town?
Factually, the largest percentage of redheads reside in Scotland and even that only makes up for approximately 13% of the population. Take a seat, Riverdale.
How is red hair passed down?
So basically the ginger gene is a sort of slight mutation called the melanocortin 1 receptor or MC1R. It's recessive, which means that both parents have to carry it in order for their baby to have red hair.
In Archie's case, the writers were smart to cast IRL ginger Molly Ringwald as his mom. That's the clear marker that she definitely has the gene, and Fred clearly carries the recessive gene. That gives them about a 50% chance of having a ginger son, so Archie's color checks out.
Presuming Mr. Blossom was a redhead prior to his days of toupees and hardcore eeeevil, that would explain how both Blossom twins have their hair color. Two redhead parents are going to have a redhead baby (or two redheaded babies).
Oh! There's also a decent chance that one or both of Polly's twins will end up with red hair! Jason (R.I.P.) was the third hottest ginger in Riverdale. And um, Polly likely carries the recessive gene because of her… you know… pre-existing ties to the Blossom family…
Red Hair and Freckles
Ok, so it's hard to get an exact figure on the correlation between the two. Suffice to say, being a true ginger usually comes from the marriage of orange follicles, pale skin, and a generous helping of freckles. You know this, we know this, everyone knows this. What you may not know is that it's because it both comes from the same genetic mutation!
So tl;dr, red hair and freckles are not mutually exclusive, but because they're associated with the same gene they often go hand and hand. So it's highly unlikely that Archie would be flame-haired without some freckles on his body.
If he wants to take his shirt off again so we can take a closer look, so be it.
Is KJ Apa naturally red?
Ok, maybe you didn't know this already (we still do a double-take when we hear KJ's New Zealand accent in interviews), but KJ is a dark brunette. And trust us, keeping those telltale roots at bay is an ordeal.
"It was, honestly, scary at the start, because they had to dye it once a week and I’m shooting for six months," he told Empire US before the show first debuted. "They had to bleach it. I’m probably going to be bald by the end of the series."
Or you're going to have to invest in a really boss wig. We'll check back three seasons from now.
Is anyone on Riverdale a real ginger?
Actually, yes! Madelaine Petsch is a natural redhead! That tumbling cascade of scarlet is 100% real! And as it would turn out, her identity as a redhead probably helped inform her role in an unexpected way.
"I grew up in a small town, I was the only redhead other than my brother," she confessed to Cosmopolitan. "We had South African accents, I was a vegan, I was raised without religion. I was just the weirdest kid in this small town, so I got made fun of a lot for it. My brother got stones thrown at him! So now I very much embrace it and want people to know I'm a natural redhead and proud of that."
Awww! That's super inspiring to all the ginger kids in the audience, and it sort of shows that more vulnerable side to Cheryl Blossom. Despite her popularity, Cheryl comes across as incredibly alone, and Madelaine's childhood experience seems to have helped get that idea of isolation across. It's so great that she's since risen above it (and has the best hair in the game, tbh).
So why is everyone in Riverdale ginger?
Well. Like. They're not. But the reason it seems that way, however, can be mainly credited to two things: One, strong AF Blossom genes and two, not enough beautiful gingers on television. Basically redhead representation isn't really high (since: red hair is rare), so it seems very extra on Riverdale.
We'll admit that the lack of freckles still seems highly suspect.