RIP Bughead: An Ode to Cole Sprouse and Lili Reinhart’s Relationship, Gone Too Soon

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After two magical years of being very good-looking people in a relationship both on and off screen, Cole Sprouse, a.k.a. Jughead on Riverdale, and Lili Reinhart, Betty Cooper on the same dramatic teen television program, have broken up. “Lili and Cole broke up earlier this summer,” an unnamed source dedicated to ruining my day told E! News. “The two are not living together this season,” according to the source, and are “intentionally keeping their distance from the other.”

Clearly, some things are simply too good for this earth, and their relationship was one of them. It feels like just yesterday that they walked onto the 2018 Met Gala red carpet with a limited understanding of the theme, and right into our hearts.

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R.I.P. Bughead, you deserved better.

Now, back to you, reader. Take a deep breath. Look around. What do you see? Nothing. No one. You are alone. These are the end times. Self-destruction is inevitable. Love is dead. Young love is dead. If these two conventionally attractive actors can’t make it work, what hope is there for the rest of us? And most importantly, what went wrong for them? Is there a popular conspiracy theory I can immediately jump in on to explain their uncoupling? Why is this so much more fun to interrogate than Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello’s clearly fake relationship?

After conducting about five minutes of internet sleuthing, I found some answers: most fans are in disbelief that the breakup even occurred (denial is the first stage of grief, and you better believe the whole world is weeping) while others think the breakup signals that Jughead and Betty are also going to break up on the show, which is concerning on a few levels. Bughead shippers do realize Sprouse isn’t a butterfly-knife-swinging, leather-jacket-toting mafioso in real life, right? And that Reinhart isn’t a secret cam girl, cult-buster, and also the child of a serial killer? And that high school isn’t typically so film noir? I went to college with the Sprouse twins (his brother Dylan and I were in a writing workshop together) and from what I could tell, neither lacks the self-awareness required to deliver Jughead’s overwhelmingly earnest “I’m a weirdo” monologue from season one of the show. These are actors, sheeple. Actually, I take that back. The “weirdo” thing is totally Dylan. Well, it’s actually more Bella Thorne, but you get the gist—Riverdale isn’t real.

However! That conspiracy theory does lend itself to a bigger one, my favorite genre of gossip outside of fake baby stories: What if they were never dating and this was just brilliant promo? Or maybe Bughead were in an open relationship and at some point, just couldn’t maintain the secret lifestyle anymore? Or if you’re Cosmo, you literally think their demise is attributable to a combination of Mercury Retrograde and Cancer season, which apparently is the big baby sign in astrology. I think a fake baby seems more legitimate.

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In truth, my read is that Cole and Lili were very much in love and it’s sad that it’s over—but, uh, it is what it is? On the plus side, they’re both single now and I cannot wait to see who they partner with next. Please don’t let it be my boyfriend Harry Styles.

In the meantime, while you take a beat to really process all that was lost, might I suggest watching the many, truly unhinged “cute moments” YouTube videos, which feature Bughead acting like they maybe sort of like each other, set to some oddly sentimental, folky car commercial music? The one directly above is delightfully deranged.

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About the author

Maria Sherman

Senior Writer, Jezebel