I will start this series with an analysis of the character Archie.
Archie serves as the hero of the series. He has a strong sense of justice and is mostly altruistic in his actions. Archie is the perfect all-American all-star boy next door. He, like the other characters in the show that directly impact the plot, is perfect at everything he does. He is a star football player. He has natural fighting talents that carry him through out the rest of the series. He can also sing since he also needs to have troubled artist on his resume. I will say it makes his character and extend to the others that share this level of perfection, it makes the characters boring. I want to see the characters struggle to overcome a challenge. The struggle is what gives a story tension, and a dark themed teen drama needs a lot of tension and suspense for it to be successful. Archie never really has to struggle. The audience knows that he will succeed. They know he will get back up and punch his way through the puzzle so what is the point of watching?
I wish they at least made him learn from his mistakes and experiences. Archie’s only character trait is that he is heroic. That means he will always act heroic when he is given the opportunity. There are times where he gets beat up and reminded of his mortality and for a moment, he attempts at going back to a normal life, but he will keep bouncing back up and doing the same thing he has done since season one. It is not interesting when a character’s choices become this tired formula of how Archie is going to use his fists this week. Yes, he does deal with issues about his family, friends, relationships, and there are even scenes that suggest a bit of alcoholism, but all of that is quickly glanced over to get him to his next shirtless scene. Archie is nothing if not shameless fan service.
Archie starts out the series as this troubled youth trying to find his identity. Archie is constantly juggling the large amounts of expectations that society has placed on him. He acts as he is expected to act. In the first season he is juggling football, music, school, work, his relationships, and dealing with the drama of the death of Jason Blossom. You can see how he begins to get crushed by the weight. He desperately wants to impress everyone, but he learns he doesn’t have to and he can pursue whatever he wants to be. Archie reacts to this revelation by continuing to do the same thing for the rest of the series. Archie, and I would argue most characters, don’t learn or grow from their experiences. Archie at the end of season four is worse than the Archie in season one.
Season one is where Archie is the most interesting. It is the season that defines him as heroic. He is presented with a moral dilemma. In season one he knows some information about the murder of Jason Blossom, but he must keep it a secret to not get Ms. Grundy in trouble. He must choose between getting justice for someone who has been wronged or choosing to side with someone that he loves. You add the other stresses of high school and you have an incredibly stressed Archie. Archie, unsurprisingly, chooses to do the right thing and confess what he knows. For the most part, Archie has a clear moral compass.
But Archie is mostly heroic in action. He will always jump into action to help without a second thought. It will always work for him. The defining moment for this was when Cheryl tries to drown herself in the frozen river. When Archie and his friends discover Cheryl’s plans, they rush over to save her. When the gang gets to Cheryl, it is already too late, and she is drowning under a layer of ice. While Jughead and Betty freeze in terror, Archie acts and starts punching at the ice until he breaks through and saves Cheryl. He bloodies his hands in the process. He puts aside all his dreams and ambitions, he needs his hands, to save someone who up this point has not been a favorable person. This is the type of character Archie is.
But a lot of the good that Season one does is quickly thrown out the window. The show becomes this insane and boring fever dream and Archie becomes this bland watered down heroic figure. And lets not forget about the shameless fan service that overshadows any plot or character development that could have existed for Archie.
Thank you for reading part one of my analysis of Archie. In my next part I will go into depth about how he quickly becomes one of the most boring characters in Riverdale and why his character doesn’t really work for a show like this. Stay tuned!