This week, we temporarily bid adieu to Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica as Riverdale wraps its excellent first season and forces us to return to our meaningless, Skeet Ulrich–free lives.
But even with the final reveal of Jason Blossom’s killer, a bigger question looms over the town defined by its murders and booming maple syrup empires: Why doesn’t anybody in Riverdale know how music works?
I mean, for real. Based on recent promo images, the finale will bring us another live music event — that brings Josie and the Pussycats back to the stage — and test our patience via Archie and his godforsaken guitar. Which I’m sure means there has to be some kind of closure or backstory — particularly, let's hope, the one behind the town of Riverdale’s perplexing inability to comprehend the most basic aspects of the music industry.
Granted, this isn’t anybody’s fault, provided we discover that Riverdale is in fact a community as isolated as the one in M. Night Shyamalan's 2004 film The Village. This would also somewhat explain why it’s OK for Betty’s mom to work on the high school paper, or why the teens interrupted their raging kegger a few weeks back to play a strange variation of truth or dare. (TBH, if anyone had done that when I was in high school, they would’ve been promptly removed and banned from all future events.)
This would be why, instead of uploading his jams to SoundCloud or Bandcamp or literally any other site like most aspiring musicians do in 2017, Archie believes he must get into a school so exclusive that a family who deals primarily in breakfast condiments is the only way in.
It would also tell us why Josie’s dad seems to only understand and champion one genre: jazz. And yes, of course, jazz snobs exist in real life, but do they hate other forms of music so much that they'd crush their own daughters' dreams? When Josie performed her sensational (and risky) Donna Summer cover, that guy walked out of her performance as if disco was new and threatening to ruin the world ... sort of like he got defrosted from the mid-1970s. Like he was scared of “I Feel Love.”
How? And why?
Which are two questions I scream at the screen whenever Veronica talks about singing with Archie. From her earlier collaboration with the Pussycats, we have learned that she can sing. And we have learned that she’s good at it. And yet, she somehow believes — she, a young woman from New York City — that a professional collaboration with the boy who wears a necktie to a glorified pep rally is the key to success. What happens when somebody goes to Riverdale? Where did the other bands go?
Because holy shit, I don’t think there are any other bands in this town! Guys? Seriously, none. I mean, considering Riverdale consists of approximately 14 buildings, it’s safe to surmise that the high school we see is the only high school around. Which means that Josie and the Pussycats are the city’s only active musical group, and may be the only musical group in the city’s history, because even adults are showing up to talent shows and school dances to take in teen-led live jams. (Which is lovely and supportive, but these grown-ups presumably grew up in the '90s and they know raw talent isn’t necessarily Archie and Veronica covering “Kids in America,” bless their precious hearts.)
So we have two options: Either stepping foot into Riverdale somehow erases the concepts of music and the music industry from its citizens’ minds entirely, or the town exists in such a bubble that the internet is reserved solely for local news or background checks of sketchy high school staffers. It’s like no one’s aware they can build a Facebook fan page and upload their songs accordingly — or that emails of managers and labels and publicists are relatively easily findable with a click or two. It’s like Archie doesn’t know you can just be a musician, and that going to school for it absolutely does not guarantee you world fame. It’s almost like everyone’s ignored decades of history to move full steam ahead through hurdles that haven’t existed since at least 1999. I am sure we are seconds from hearing Archie refer to himself as a “trailblazer” because he’s realized you can put on a concert anywhere, at any time.
There is a very real risk that Riverdale’s season will end with the revelation that Archie Andrews believes he invented concerts. Because truly, no one on this show seems to have ever been to one at any point. No one seems to know that outside The Village, a thriving industry exists, populated by all sorts of artists from all sorts of genres who’ve found their success in a number of ways, few of which are conventional. All any of us can hope is that Josie and the Pussycats are the ones who escape and go on to make their way in the world. We're rooting for you, Pussycats. And maybe while they're out there, they'll run into Josie’s dad — who, based on how he feels about jazz, should definitely not find out about La La Land.