It’s a Good Thing Riverdale is an Ensemble Show


This blog post contains spoilers for the first half of the first season of Riverdale.

 Riverdale characters

Full disclosure: I’ve never read an Archie comic in my life.

And, this isn’t a criticism. I love Riverdale. It’s addicting, and I can’t wait to finish the season.

I realize that Riverdale is meant to be an ensemble show. It’s probably the reason the title is Riverdale instead of Archie, after the comics from which it is born. However, it’s interesting to me that the titular character from the comics is (for me, personally) the least compelling character on the show.

I don’t dislike Archie, I just haven’t felt any reason to care that much about him; and I think I realized why I feel that way…

Archie is largely absent from the most interesting plots of the show.

His biggest plot lines are his affair with Ms. Grundy (wut?), and his struggle between his love of football, and his love of music; a story line that even the show lampshades as being tired and played-out, but (so far) fails to subvert in any interesting way.

Up to this point, the most I have been invested in his story line was when he was working with Val, of Josie and the Pussycats fame. But that hasn’t really led anywhere, because The Pussycats don’t get nearly as much screen time as they should.

Aside from that, the most interesting plots of Riverdale: Jason Blossom’s murder, Betty’s sister Polly, and Veronica’s family problems all exist separate from Archie.

The only other interesting plot that has Archie attached to it in some vaguely significant way is Jughead and his dad, but Archie mostly plays a bit role in that (as he should).

It leaves me thinking… I know I’ve seen this happen before.

There are other shows where the “main” character, is the least interesting.

Ted Mosby in How I Met Your Mother immediately springs to mind. Eliza Dushku’s Echo in Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse is drowned out by all the fascinating supporting characters (save for Paul Ballard, but that’s a blog post for another day). And a strong argument could be made for the face of Lost, Jack Shepherd.

Those characters are fine, I like them okay. In a vacuum, maybe I’d be more interested in them, but compared to their ensembles, they pale a bit.

A lot of times, side characters are more interesting than main characters by their very nature. Side characters aren’t bogged down by the weight of carrying the show, and don’t have their fingers in as many pies. However, as stated before, Riverdale is an ensemble show. Betty and Veronica get seemingly about as much screen time as Archie, and they are three-times as compelling. (Side note: What’s up with not showing Jughead for more than two minutes at a time until half-way through the season?)

I like Archie. I want to be more interested in what’s going on with him, but it’s hard when the show keeps him separate from the rest of the group so often. Betty and Archie don’t spend as much time together after the first few episodes. It takes until about halfway through the season for Jughead and Archie to really re-solidify their friendship.And any of the glimpses of a Veronica and Archie friendship are tainted by whatever attraction the show is trying to force

I hope this show makes me like Archie more by the end of the season. It’d be a shame if it ended with its “main” character barely registering as a blip on my radar. I still have several episodes left, so maybe I’ll check back in when I’m finished.

What are your thoughts on Archie in the first season of Riverdale? Or any of the other characters? (No spoilers please!! I’m not done with the season yet!)

And what characters from other shows do you feel have fallen into the same trap as Archie? What main characters do you find underwhelming and/or uninteresting?

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