The Riverdalespinoff series premieres Thursday on The CW, taking fans to the big city along with Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray), the former Pussycat who's chasing her dreams of musical stardom. Thankfully, she'll find her support system in a new group of friends, including the titular Katy Keene, played by Lucy Hale, an aspiring fashion designer striving for success at a posh NYC department store.
So, how does Katy Keene, the show, fit into the Riverdale universe? First and foremost, the series takes place several years in the future from Archie and the gang's high school years, so Josie is in her 20s, with some life experience under her belt. (She mentions to Katy in the premiere that she spent some time touring with her dad, Myles, a jazz musician, before deciding to try her luck in the Big Apple.)
As fans saw on this week's Riverdale, Josie meets her new NYC crew via Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), who was friends with Katy before leaving the city to move to the mysterious -- and often murderous -- town of Riverdale. Having made the opposite journey in pursuit of her budding music career, Josie becomes fast friends with Katy, her roommate, Jorge (Jonny Beauchamp), and her socialite pal, Pepper (Julia Chan).
"Josie has left Riverdale and is now pursuing her dreams in New York... It's an extension of the universe," Murray told ET's Leanne Aguilera last year when she sat down to dish on her character leaving her "safety net" and making the leap to a new series. "You're seeing another part of the world -- where there's a lot less death -- where a lot of other Archie characters live."
Like Archie, Betty, Jughead, and the rest of the Riverdale gang, Katy Keene began as an Archie Comics character back in 1945. Throughout various runs, the character has been a model, actress, singer and more, but her interests almost always revolve around fashion -- which was instrumental in shaping Hale's character in the new series, who designs clothes for herself and her friends (and the occasional celebrity client, as the pilot shows).
However, unlike Riverdale, Katy Keene isn't looking to put as dark a spin on the comic characters. Though there are plenty of references to its sister series -- "Any friend of Veronica Lodge's is a friend of mine," Katy cheerfully quips when she first meets Josie -- there won't be any Black Hoods or escaped mercenaries on the loose to terrorize these twentysomethings.
"It's nothing like Riverdale. Everybody's staying alive," Murray laughed, though she added, "Even though it is very bright, there's still drama, there's still hardship, there's still that grit... Life isn't life without it."
And the premiere episode does take an opportunity to poke a little fun at Josie's tormented hometown. When Katy worries aloud about her new friend venturing out on her own to meet up with charming playboy (and aspiring music producer) Alexander Cabot, Josie reassures her. "I am from Riverdale," she reminds the group. "It is the murder capital of the world. I'll be fine."
So, can we expect to see any of Josie's former classmates pop up on Katy Keene in the future? (Provided, of course, that they survive their own Riverdale storylines.) Murray played coy, but she did offer, "I would love for Veronica to pop up in New York. It would only make sense, considering that she came from New York!"
Katy Keene premieres Thursday, Feb. 6, at 8 p.m. PT/ET on The CW. See more on the new show in the video below!