Social Media

Skeet Ulrich from 'Riverdale' Is the Best Thing in My Life

How the former 90s heartthrob and current ‘Riverdale’ star’s social media restored my faith in the internet.

Wendy Syfret

Wendy Syfret

This article originally appeared on VICE Australia.

In 1996, Skeet Ulrich was almost a big deal. He was a young handsome actor, caught in the Johnny Depp slipstream that saw several dark-eyed, high-cheek-boned babes get work in teen films. You might not know his name, but trust me, you know the dude. He was the bad guy in Scream—sorry for the 22-year-old spoiler—and the dickish and doomed love interest in The Craft—shit, spoiler for that one too.

For the past 20 years, he has worked solidly in projects you probably haven’t seen. That was until last year, when he was cast as Serpents gang leader and Jughead’s absent father, FP Jones, on Riverdale. Classic stuff.

For most, this could be seen as the career renaissance your boy Ulrich has been holding out for. Riverdale is a huge hit. And while the majority of the praise has been for a new generation of dark-eyed, high-cheek-boned babes (seriously Cole Sprouse, get in touch), it is no doubt a comfortable and satisfying check to cash midway through a career that was probably not always easy.

But to leave things here would mean missing the most interesting thing about the 90s pinup. Because you see, Skeet Ulrich is the most earnest man on the internet. How do I know this? The same way I know everything I believe to be deeply true—Instagram.

My path to Skeet Ulrich’s Instagram was winding. His press shots and screengrabs didn’t pull me in alone. He lead me there through breadcrumbs. Crumbs he sprinkled throughout the comment sections on the far more traditionally engaging accounts of Riverdale’s young adult stars.

Spend a bit of time on the grams of Cole Sprouse (great photographer), Lili Reinhart (lovable doofus),Camila Mendes (those brows though), KJ Apa (New Zealander) and you’ll see a lot of “amazing!,” “great!,” “epic!,” “the coolest!” While the young castmates post photos of each other cracking in-jokes and lovingly give shit to each other, Skeet is a constant presence. His input is broken down into two categories: Either eye-rolling dad jokes and intensely meaningful reflections on how stoked he is to be a part of all this—all completed with at least three exclamation marks.

The dad jokes are classic fare. Below a picture of KJ Apa huddled between coworkers, he wrote, “That’s one way to keep warm!!!” On another, that sees supporting cast members Casey Cott and Mark Consuelos with their arms around each other he demands, “Homies!!! Count me in next time!!!” A bit thirsty, but fine.

The bulk of his cheesy banter is reserved for his onscreen son, Cole Sprouse. The ex-Disney star’s feed is made up of his own photography work, much of which has been published in respected global publications. That doesn’t stop Ulrich though, underneath a shot of him with the wind in his hair he teases, “Love your new hair dryer.” On another, he simply exclaims, “So proud of you son!!!”

But my personal favorites are the achingly emotional remarks. Here, Lily—a.k.a. Betty Cooper, girl detective and his onscreen son’s love interest—gets the bulk of the attention. He calls her an “Amazing timeless beauty!!!” When she holds a baby he gasps, “You look so at home!!!!” When she posts a Lang Leav excerpt he replies, “Hope alone will make everything you want real.” As a side note, this is objectively bad advice.

After months—literally months—of obsessively checking these feeds, screenshotting the interactions, looking at the screenshots, and going back to see if the other cast members were replying to him or if he was just screaming into a generation gap—I started to notice a few things.

Firstly, the thirst is generally only reciprocated among Riverdale cast members born before 1990. Second, related point, Gen X does not understand the internet. But third, and most importantly, cool is a total illusion. My feed, probably like yours, is a smooth, polished surface, formed by constructed and beautiful photos of constructed and beautiful things. From filters to captions, these are engineered spaces, where we only show what we want. All other thoughts, feelings, and impulses are cropped out of frame.

So when a crack of something real, something earnest, impulsive, and uncultivated cuts through, it’s jarring and precious. This dude is honestly just so clearly stoked with his life. He genuinely seems so happy—so happy to know these people, so happy to have a cool job, so happy to wake up every day and do something he likes. He is brimming over, spilling into other people’s crafted spaces.

It’s hard to think of anyone else in my life with that kind of energy, who is just endlessly, exhaustively rooting for everyone around them. My parents don’t understand Instagram but even if they did, they wouldn’t be putting in that kind of time for me. Do you understand the time commitment here? We’re literally talking about personalized comments on every other post, across several cast members.

I understand that there is a world in which people laugh at him. Maybe Cole and Lily have a cute LOL and nudge each other when a notification pops up. At the beginning of this, maybe I was like that. Seeing @skeetme1 pop up again and again, wondering, what is going on here? Babe, you have got to chill.

But it’s because honestly, I was jealous. Not of the dewy stars—although honestly, yes, of course, them too—but of Skeet. Not of his career comeback, or his still perfect bone structure, but for his openness. For never being afraid to express himself.

Everyone has cool friends they tone it down for, who they’re a little bit smaller for, a bit less themselves. For Skeet, they’re literally on the cover of Cosmo. But he doesn’t give a fuck, he isn’t monitoring his likes. You know when he scrolls two years back on someone's feed, he isn’t watching his thumbs. He likes a picture from 2016, gets into bed, and sleeps the deep restful slumber of someone who isn’t consumed by online social anxiety. The sleep of someone who is just happy to be happy, thankful for how life worked out, and not afraid to show that.

Sometimes when I feel like shit, or stressed, or dumb I look out for him. His warm words aren’t directed at me but the glow of them is still there. I want to be brave and open-hearted on the internet like him. To just see my blessings and write “WOW!!!!” beneath them. Skeet Ulrich’s Instagram makes me want to write “WOW!!!!” beneath the whole damn world.

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