All of us should dare to dream. All of us deserve a chance to shine. None of us have the right to tell someone that we think their goals are stupid or that they’re destined for failure. We are not the deciders of another person’s fate. And yet, Archie Andrews should absolutely give up music.
Please don’t hate me (until you’re done reading this).
If you, like me, are fully immersed in Riverdale, that means you’re likely also struggling with wanting to champion the character we’re supposed to love and simultaneously wanting to scream into the abyss. Much like Dawson Leery and his godforsaken Spielberg obsession, our series’s protagonist is a dreamer, an artist. He's just one party away from announcing, “Here’s ‘Wonderwall’!” as the host slowly turns down Bruno Mars out of pity. Archie wants to be a musician more than anybody has ever wanted anything ... and despite all of this, he really should not be.
The Archie Andrews of Riverdale is a kind, naive, sensitive teen whose dream is to write and record music, despite apparently not having the slightest interest in doing so until very recently. Urged on by his former music teacher/lover Miss Grundy (the Ms. Jacobs to his Pacey Witter), Andrews has spent previous episodes seeking out the help of Actual Musicians and classmates Josie and the Pussycats; in last week's episode, he dwelled on the recommendation of a recording professional named Oscar Castillo, who told him to let his dream die.
Instead, after being told to stop wallowing by Pussycats member Valerie Brown (a saint with a gracious tolerance for acoustic mediocrity), Archie decided to pursue his guitar-centric vision full steam ahead, going so far as to give up being football captain to focus on his melodic quest. The previews for this week's episode have hinted that he'll choke onstage when he tries out for the variety show — embarrassing! Poor Archie! But the thing is, none of this would be happening if he genuinely seemed to like music, or acted like any other human person attempting to make a life out of it.
Anybody in the arts will tell you that there’s a shit-ton more sacrifice involved than bidding adieu to a fancy new football jersey. Surely his friends in The Pussycats could clue him in on what being a musician really entails. It’s like Archie watched Center Stage one time, assumed it applied to rock and/or roll, and promised himself he’d get a principal spot, Cooper Nielson be damned. Because dude has obviously never actually been to a rock show.
I mean, when has Archie ever talked about another band he really likes? (At least Dawson had a Jaws poster.) Having spent the summer working for his dad, getting buff, hanging with Grundy (yikes), and upping his chances for football glory, there’s been no real evidence of any affinity for music or the arts — only evidence of his affinity for his own legend. He’s Father John Misty’d himself without having dropped even one memorable lyric. And his dad and friends aren’t helping.
In fact, they’re making it worse. In the wake of Grundy’s praise for his son, Archie’s dad has built him a soundproof practice space in the garage — a move that seems likely to isolate Archie from whatever arts scene exists in Riverdale even more than Veronica and Betty's dubious encouragement to write more, play more, and produce more of his solo stuff. (Because that’s exactly what we all need: another dude with a guitar strumming about his feelings.) If Archie was surrounded by actual musicians, he wouldn’t be such a prisoner of his own stage fright and/or ego. He’d be around people who knew what performing was like and what choking was like, and even what writing bad music — and then evolving past it — was like. Instead, he’s gunning for glory and living like music is an all-or-nothing plan he needs to pursue all by his lonesome. He’s thirsty for what he thinks being a musician is (fame, recognition, respect, money?) and not for its reality (pretty much the opposite). Plus, he’s just ... not good.
He’s not the worst musician alive, but Castillo wasn’t wrong: There’s nothing that sets Archie apart from his peers. A lot of people play guitar and write about their feelings! But unlike The Pussycats, who have clearly honed their harmonies, lyrics, beats, and stage personas (on top of performing good and interesting music), Andrews is the guy we’ve all met at a party who cannot believe we don’t “get” Bon Iver. And if his friends actually cared about him, they’d take him aside and kindly say that.
Or, at the very least, steer him toward a synthesizer instead.