Archie Andrews is kind of a bad dude. I mean, let's be real. Everyone’s favorite redhead has spent the last 75 years scheming and pitting two girls against each other in a never-ending war for his affection. Dare I say it, Archie is the original F-boi, a (censored) term reserved for only the worst of the worst, defined via Urban Dictionary as, "a guy who tries to get with everyone. A player. A guy who will lie to a girl to make them hook up with them or send pics."
Yet, we've continued to adore the ginger-haired star of Double Digest, chalking up the shenanigans of he and his friends to All-American fun and a blissful look back to simpler times.
But if you've watched #Riverdale, the CW's new drama that drops the characters from the comics into the heart of a sexy, film-noire murder mystery, there's a good chance you can't stand the show's Archie. So, did the CW fail to capture the heart and soul of the character? Quite the contrary. #TheCW nails Archie by taking him verbatim from the comics and dropping him into a moody, modern setting, revealing in the process that a real-life Archie would be a bit of a scumbag.
The mission statement of Riverdale seems to be flipping the script (err, comic book) as we know it and modernizing the world of Archie comics for a 2017 audience. Cheesy at it may sometimes be, rest assured that Riverdale ain't your mama's #Archie. In this universe, most characters have been revamped.
The lovable girl next door Betty Cooper juggles the anxiety of unrequited love, a pill-pushing mother and a family history of mental illness; bad girl Veronica Lodge's family is in shambles over allegations of embezzlement; Jughead Jones is a crown-shaped, beanie-wearing hipster boy writing a novel. Gone are the days where any conflict can be resolved with a shared milkshake at Pop's Diner.
However, at the core of the group, one character remains oddly frozen in time, even in this edgy new landscape — the happy-go-lucky, "guys want to be him, girls want to be with him" archetype we're all so tired of in 2017: Archie "F-boi" Andrews.
In the show, Archie Andrews is still the idealistic All-American male excelling in sports, music, and yes, charming the pants off of every girl in town. While Archie once served as a mascot of Americana in the post-war era — then later as a blissful reminder of the nifty '50s and '60s — by today's storytelling standards, the archetypal character is obsolete. Fans are smarter, more jaded, and no longer crave those sorts of Mary Sue / Gary Stu, wish fulfillment characters. Folks want struggle, hardship, and humanity — things Archie has never come head to head with.
Back in the day we'd call Archie lucky. Using today's lexicon, a better word for a kid in Archie's shoes is: privileged. Riverdale acknowledges that Archie Andrews is the poster child of white collar privilege and instead of trying to convince you otherwise, the show writers steer into that skid. Their pitch for bringing Archie into the modern world is, brilliantly, to keep him stagnant in an otherwise updated world and letting you poke fun at how out of touch this naive attention seeker is.
Like the viewers at home, the characters in Riverdale also know that Archie is the worst. Jughead, Betty and Veronica all enjoy his company but acknowledge he's a scumbag: Jughead is hurt that Archie cancels on him and never communicates; Betty is heartbroken that he refuses to reciprocate feelings; Veronica is upset on behalf of Betty for the way Archie treats her. In Riverdale, he's the center of the group much like he is in the comics, but only because of the controversy and drama spewing out of the self-centered sophomore.
What Riverdale has created is a faithful take on Archie Andrews that is still lovable, just in a different way. Without changing a beat, Archie is no longer someone we aspire to be like, but rather someone who we collectively love to hate. A person like him is totally unrealistic to find in the world today and viewers can share in the fun of regarding Archie as their weekly laughing stock.
Not only does Archie's naive optimism yield some of the show's best laughs, it also elevates the characters around him, humanizing them simply by comparison. Take for instance a scene in Episode 3 where Josie (of Josie and the Pussycats) puts Archie on blast for trying to tell her, a person of color, how to write her music. Josie shuts him down fast in the show's definitive "yas queen" moment, telling him that the Pussycats use that name because they have to claw their way into the same rooms people like Archie can just waltz into.
Indeed, Archie hasn't changed a bit, but society and our depiction of what's cool and what's cringe worthy has. Riverdale smartly recognizes that if someone today tried to act like Andrews — literally prioritizing girls and guitar practice over an unsolved murder case — they would be called out and crowned King of the F-bois.
You may hate Archie Andrews in Riverdale despite loving him back in the day. This doesn't mean the CW failed to capture the magic of Archie, it just means you're a good, sensible person. Perhaps the CW is slowly breaking him down in order to build their version of Archie into someone amiable later in the season. For now, his laughably unrealistic bravado serves as a touchstone to how far storytelling and representation has come that the once legendary face of coolness is now the lamest character on TV.