Archie Andrews is the face of Riverdale. The comics on which Riverdale are based have almost always put Archie’s name somewhere in the title. The company itself, Archie Comics, bears Archie’s name. Archie is meant to be the star — but on Riverdale a much more interesting character has emerged, Jughead. While KJ Apa’s portrayal of Archie is fine, it is Jughead who has really shined in the dark reimagining. Riverdale would be a much more solid show if the main character reins were handed over to Jughead.
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A Hero Disguised as a Sidekick
The argument could be made that Riverdale is an ensemble-driven show. The town is the main focus more than any one character. While that is some ways true, Archie is clearly designed to be the face (and abs) of the series. Most of the major action is centered around Archie and/or filtered through him. The pilot, for example, was told almost entirely from Archie’s point of view. All the creepy, scandalous and exciting things are happening around Archie and that may be Riverdale‘s problem. Archie is a character who stuff happens to, Jughead is a character who makes things happen.
As much as Jughead claimed in “Chapter Four: The Last Picture Show” that he is the constant conscientious objector, his actions on the show have told a very different story. Jughead is the voice of Riverdale. He narrates every episode. He brings the audience in and he takes us out of each installment. He is one of the only characters who is seriously investigating the murder of Jason Blossom. Jughead is a much more active character than Archie, who seems to be a in constant state of confusion. Riverdale has only ever shown Archie reacting to things whereas Jughead may not be making everything happen but is more actively engaged in events.
This is not even to mention that Jughead has way more going on his personal life than Archie. Archie might have the beginnings of a love triangle between Veronica, Betty and himself. Archie is also kind of starting to pursue his music career, but other than those two barely-there plotlines there is nothing that engaging about Archie. This is especially true, even though it was the worst story of the series, now that his relationship with Miss Grundy has ended. Archie doesn’t have much going on in a show where every character has a ton of crap going on.
It’s no contest between Jughead and bland Archie. Jughead is now homeless. His father is the leader of the “infamous” biker gang in town. Jughead claims to be an outsider but yet maintains and cares about all his relationships with Archie, Betty and the gang. Jughead is also writing the story of this season with his novel. Looking at Jughead’s complexities against Archie being just generally confused, like most teenagers, it is mind-boggling that the show placed Jughead as a side character and not the main attraction.
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Archie Bringing up the Rear
Maybe the problem doesn’t lie with Jughead being infinitely more interesting than Archie. Riverdale‘s issue could be that Archie just isn’t that dynamic. It’s nothing against KJ Apa. The actor is truly doing his best with what he is given, Archie just isn’t given much to do. The smallest side character has some big secret or hidden agenda on the show. Archie has nothing. Now even comic relief character Kevin has an intriguing storyline as Kevin is hooking up with one of the members of a biker gang while his dad is sheriff. Archie isn’t dull compared to Jughead. Archie is dull compared to nearly every character.
There is something to be said about having a blank slate of a character on a really soapy and complicated show. They can be an entry point for the viewer. While Archie’s blandness worked to introduce us to Riverdale, he is now falling desperately behind the other characters. It’s hard to care about Archie when he hasn’t promised much as a character. Archie is nothing.
Now that Miss Grundy is gone hopefully we can get to know a little bit more about Archie outside of the horribly gross and manipulative relationship with his teacher. Grundy was actively trying to separate Archie from everyone, which probably led to him feeling so stale. Freed of that relationship and awful storyline Archie should be thrust back into the main action and be interacting with other characters. Hopefully it is not a case of too little coming too late. Otherwise I’d much rather watch Jughead, or pretty much any other character besides Archie, be the center of Riverdale.
But what do you think? Should another character be the center of Riverdale? Do you have a problem with Archie? Do you think the show is going to build up to him being more interesting?
Riverdale season 1 airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW. Want more news? Like BuddyTV’s Facebook page!
(Images courtesy of The CW)