Riverdale Rants: Archie Part 3 – The Heart

I will finish my analysis on Archies character by talking about his only other defining character trait. Archie Andrews is a hopeless romantic, or at least the show makes him out to be one. He consistently falls in love with whatever character he is being SHIPed with for the week. When they inevitably break up, he can’t stand to be alone. After a break up, he will go on a bender to try to forget about the ex-girlfriend and he will eventually move on. This is a lasting affect from his first relationship.

Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay

In season one, Archie starts off in an inappropriate relationship with his music teacher Miss Grundy. This is the first time he falls in love, making this relationship the standard to which he compares all future relationships. For the rest of the show it becomes his curse to find a love similar to this fantasy he has created with Miss Grundy.

This relationship is the first time we see Archie experience an internal struggle. It is the first time he has had to keep a secrets from those closest to him. It is also the first time where doing the right thing also hurts someone he loves. Because of the nature of their relationship, Archie is underage and her student, they have to keep it a secret. on the day Jason goes missing, they hear a gunshot. A potential clue to the case. Archie must now decide between telling the police and exposing Miss Grundy or keeping silent and potentially letting Jason Blossom’s murder go unsolved. It is a choice that Archie will continually have to make. A choice between love and his self-proclaimed duty to justice. Archie of course chooses justice, and he will continue to do so for the rest of the series, but this moment was the only time when he experiences a real struggle and is affected by it. For the rest of the series he can’t be in a meaningful relationship and can’t stand being alone. This begins a cycle of falling in love and the inevitable fall into substance abuse that becomes Archie’s quirk.

I am definitely giving this show too much credit. The real reason why Archie and Miss Grundy are an item is because it fulfills a fantasy of seducing the hot teacher. If they wanted to make this a meaningful plot point and archie an interesting character they should have leaned heavily into the negative effects this relationship had on Archie. Now, when Archie experiences heart break he self-medicates with alcohol and seeks the next relationship. They do little with this plot because it doesn’t have any real effect on his character arc. There are moments of exposition where people confront him or scenes where he drinks, but that is forgotten quickly and he never loses his perfect image. I wish they showed a bigger impact these relationships had on Archie. Maybe have him miss important dates because he was drunk. Or show how his drinking has caused a strain in all his relationships. Something that shows he is on a slippery downward spiral. One that he has to work hard to earn his redemption.

But Archie has to be perfect. This is why Archie can self-medicate, but he is not an addict. It is why Archie is quick to fight, but he is not violent. This is why Archie can move from relationship to relationship, but he is not a player. This Archie can train to be a mobster and help steal the town and still be a hero. This is because, that is the role he has to fill, and as far as he falls, there are always monsters who are lower.

I believe that his character is boring because of the lack of consequences he experiences, and the amounts of fan service devoted to him. If Archie Andrews can be shirtless and half naked, he is. The plot of the later seasons seem more devoted to his abs than any tangible character development he can have. I don’t necessarily have a problem with fan service, I just don’t like it when it is distracting from the narrative.

There is this big moment in the show where he has to fight off assassins. The Gargoyle king has put a hit out on archie and the only way to overturn the hit is of course through a fist fight. Jughead and the snakes put out word of a quest to fight Archie in the ring for one night. Archie must survive all 9 or so assassins and finally be free. They do build this up to be this epic trial by combat where Archie takes out multiple fighters at once. But the actual fights are poorly choreographed and edited. I don’t understand why they made fighting Archie’s only character trait and have him constantly be in boring fights.

This could have been cool. It should have been an epic battle of attrition. They could have had different types of fighters go up against Archie, each one tougher than the last. They should have had each round visibly taking a toll on archie as his body becomes bruised and bloodied and his movements start to slow. Even if they didn’t have it in the budget to have nine unique fights, an epic montage with a couple moments of fighting should not be too much to ask for a character whose only job in the narrative is to fight.

What you get is another excuse to get Archie and other fit men shirtless. What you also get is this bdsm lesbian sex scene interwoven in this epic fight. At the same time the Archie is fighting for his life, Charyl and Toni are having make up sex. There is no real reason for this mash-up. This was in reaction to an incredibly important fight they had about their relationship, but the audience doesn’t need to see it This isn’t even the moment that helps these characters grow. It is just shameless fan service. Fan service that distracts from what is supposed to be an epic moment for Archie’s character. Fan service that eliminates the suspense and tension needed for this scene to work. By having these scenes interwoven, it is made clear that Archie is going to win, so what’s the point?

It is a moment that is truly on brand with this show. If this show is anything, it is a shallow mess that panders in places where it should be telling a story. I am deeply disappointed because I enjoyed the first season, but they forget a lot of what they work hard to set up, or throw out the plot and logic for shameless fan service.

I will continue this series with the minor character Reggie. I think it is important think about Reggie and his role in the plot to fully understand Archie’s character. Stay tuned for that!

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