Graduation has finally hit The CW’s Riverdale after a little more than four seasons, and while each character goes down their own life path post-high school, there’s one that felt genuine- but was oh-so mishandled by the writers. Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) enlists in the Army, which makes sense for his character’s path…but the reactions he gets from everyone else in his life squash any positivity around it. If you haven’t seen it, Wednesday’s episode of Riverdale wraps up with Archie not returning to high school to repeat his senior year and enlisting in the Army instead, despite Veronica and his other friends freaking out that he’s going off to war and signing up to die.
Seriously, has this been 1968 the whole time or is there a secret war in modern-day Riverdale-verse that we haven’t ever heard about before right now? I get that Riverdale is this heightened reality chunky mess of a mix between vintage and contemporary…but this just feels cheap. The Vietnam War was so divisive because it was the first war we saw live and in-color from the comfort of our couches and people were rightly horrified. Even in more recent times, signing up for military service in the post 9/11 “War on Terror” era didn’t warrant the pushback Archie got for a decision he has been seriously thinking about for seasons.
To act all terrified because he’s joining the army in a timeline where no current war has been established feels cheap, especially for Riverdale. Serving your country is not a death sentence, and it feels like the show is stigmatizing enlistment and setting false precedents for how others react to that news. Archie enlisting makes sense for his character and where he’s at; faced with repeating senior year without any of his friends, stuck in a town filled with ghosts of the past, with no real purpose or motivation in life – the army is a solid choice to help Archie figure out what he’s good at, instill discipline and a sense that he’s part of something bigger. So why is everyone on the show freaking out and coding Archie’s enlistment as a bad thing?
In the original comic inspiration, Archie: 1941, Archie was shipped off overseas to fight in WWII but that was an alternate timeline set in 1941, and it made that clear from the beginning. With Riverdale having modern technology and references, it makes very little sense to have everyone freak out over Archie joining the military to go off and fight in a war he has a good chance of dying in.
America is not actively engaged in a war (unless you count with itself, but that’s a whole different issue), and we’ve seen movement downsize the American military’s presence. Veronica (and everyone else’s reactions) treat this like he’s going off to Vietnam, and it doesn’t make sense. Though, I suppose if I stopped watching every time Riverdale didn’t make sense, I never would have made it through the pilot.
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