Warning: This post contains Riverdale spoilers for the March 30 episode. Don’t yell at me if you ruin everything for yourself.
I hate Archie Andrews. I hate his letterman jacket, I hate his acoustic guitar, I hate the way he says “my music,” I hate how he burst into Polly Cooper’s baby shower and announced that Jughead’s dad (my boyfriend, Skeet Ulrich) was a Serpent. I hate the way he tried to fight a grown-ass Serpent on the Serpents’ own turf, I hate that he seems oblivious to how cooler Val is than him, and I hate how he’s jealous of Jughead and Betty. I hate him, you guys. I hate him so much. And you hate him too.
And I’m scared that we are him, and that’s why.
Us, with our hopes and our dreams and our capacity to make everything all about us. Like Archie, we also consider ourselves the hero of our own — and everybody else’s — narrative, hogging conversations with our trivial issues when the person we’re talking to is going through an actual thing. The other day, a friend was talking to me about her experiences at work saving lives after I told her I was excited somebody cool liked a tweet. LIKED A TWEET. Why not just get up on the table we were sitting and scream, “DID YOU KNOW JUGHEAD JONES’ DAD IS A SERPENT.” Why not just call 9-1-1 to tell them I’m scared to play in the school’s variety show. Why not just wear a button-up and tie as a teenage human while playing the most watered-down version of rock and/or roll?
Because that’s the thing about Archie Andrews: we are exactly as clueless as he is, padding along while assuming everyone else wants to hear the songs we wrote about god-only-knows (or whatever the 20-and-30-something-equivalent is). We care so much that we’ll wear our dress shirts buttoned all the way to the top while pairing them with Converse so the world knows we actually don’t care too much. We’re so desperate to save the day that we’ll jump out of our dad’s truck to expose the truth about something that has nothing to do with us before realizing we’ll inevitably have to see our dads again, at home, where we live, who will tell us that we’re arguably huge disappointments. We won’t stop to think that maybe announcing that Jughead’s dad is in a gang might be thing the attendees of the worst baby shower in the world don’t need to know. We’re all idiots. Like Archie. Just like Archie.
There’s a reason our reaction to everything he does is met with face-palms and knee-jerks or the loud, shrill cry of “AHHHH WHAT A LOSER.” And that’s because he reminds us of ourselves. At one point or another, we have all been losers who just don’t get it. We are not Jugheads, with our sad, sordid pasts, creating a myth around ourselves. We are not Betty, fighting constantly against the force of her ponytail and the force of her terrible family. We are not Veronica, whose dad is in jail (and whose mom is probably also going to go to jail…?) We are merely the dude who belongs in high school the most — and if we are not him now, we certainly once were.
Which is arguably the genius behind Riverdale (among the many avenues of genius). Archie Andrews greeted and ushered us in from the ground floor before tricking us into confronting the worst versions of ourselves. Us, with our earnestness, and big-but-also-not-so-big goals, and inability to recognize that everybody else is far too busy dealing with their own triumphs and tragedies to really care whether or not that dude from that music school thinks we have talent. Archie is the reminder that, a lot of the time, we can be completely insufferable. Which is why it’s a gift to know him: now, when we do anything, we can ask ourselves, “Would Archie Andrews do that?” And if he would, we calmly back away from whatever we were about to say or do, and then walk stoically into the sea.
But quick, before I go: did you know Jughead’s dad is a Serpent?!