There is no question that Archie Andrews was an idiot. But he was an artful idiot. Those are the worst kinds because these are the ones most women are guilty of falling for, despite knowing better. Frankly speaking, Archie in The Archies (movie and comics) is neither very funny nor very bright. Nobody was a fan of the ‘Va Va Voom’ song; he thought he was so slick for dedicating it to both Betty and Veronica. But when you are seventeen years old, even holding a guitar looks attractive (that never goes away), so Betty and Veronica can never be blamed for liking him. Technically, when you see the comics, you realize that the girls did not have many options other than Archie. In the small pool of Riverdale, he was the most normal of the lot, which means that he looked like a good catch in that context. But we are surprised that in The Archies movie, Reggie was not more of a competition. He was an insufferable narcissist in the comics, but in the movie, he was strong, funny, and knew how to fight for himself and others. That should have meant that the girls noticed him a little bit more, despite the stubborn strand of hair on his forehead. Maybe he will catch their eye now that they have gotten over Archie.
But coming back to our point, Archie was simply selfish. He may have been sweet about the conveyance of it, but selfishness was still what governed him. Let us assume that he genuinely liked both Betty and Veronica and wanted time to figure out his feelings. But why did he think it was right to lead them both on? Archie’s philosophy in life was that hearts don’t break; they only fracture. Is that why he thought that he had the right to cause as many fractures as he liked? Because the damage wouldn’t be permanent?
In The Archies movie, Archie is rather oblivious to Betty’s feelings. Assuming that he knows, he still doesn’t give it any real importance. The only time, and perhaps the first time, he asks her out on a date is after he gets rejected by Veronica. She wants to wait and see if they still have the chemistry and feelings or not, which is why she wants them to start with a different equation. But in Archie’s brain, it meant that he had the license to date as long as Veronica did not become his girlfriend. He forgot the important distinction that Veronica was not dating others. She was simply taking her time. For a second, just for the sake of it, let us consider that Archie did not understand the nuance of the situation and felt like he had the luxury to move on. But was Betty the ideal choice for that? Did he not know of the girls’ friendship before that? Even then, how did Archie’s feelings for Veronica disappear in a second and get transferred to Betty?
When Archie sneaks into Betty’s house after his date with Veronica, he is there for food because the portions in the hotel were not enough. This tells us that Archie had not been himself with Veronica. It is not really a sad fact because, despite knowing that, Archie’s first choice was Ronnie, and just like everyone else, he had categorized the girls into the ‘sweet girl next door’ and ‘the attention-grabbing diva’. While he hadn’t categorized them hierarchically, he still didn’t care about either of them.
The next day, Jughead had predicted rightly that the girls would team up against Archie if they ever found out the truth. For a brief second, Archie takes his advice and asks out another girl. However, he can only think about Betty and Veronica later. We wonder if that would have been the case if Sheryl had actually given any attention to Archie. Even though she must be a great girl with her own merits, unlike Betty and Veronica, she wasn’t interested in Archie and did not think the world of him, which is why Archie did not feel the need to pursue her. Archie was never really cut out to make tough decisions. He could not choose between Betty or Veronica or even respect them; he was ‘apolitical,’ and, if nothing else, he did not even make an effort to understand the girls he claimed he so desperately liked.
For a second, let us take a few steps back to see how he treated his parents. We don’t agree with his father about wanting Archie to stay back in Riverdale. But Archie had to be incredibly stupid to not realize that his father should be the one to pay for his education. The next thing was that Archie told his dad that he didn’t want to be a burden, but he went on to be exactly that for Betty and Veronica. Essentially, Archie simply did what was easy.
Some people may argue that he did make the tough choice of staying back in Riverdale instead of going to London. But if you ask us, his reason for doing so was not love for Riverdale but the ease of his life there, something like why he was hung up on Betty and Veronica because Sheryl did not pay any attention to him. It is a given that Archie’s dreams could not be fulfilled in Riverdale. His staying back there made absolutely no sense. But his life would be easy in his hometown. People already loved and tolerated him enough, and that made them applaud his mediocrity. This wouldn’t be the case in London, where there is a challenge at every turn waiting for him. Leaving Riverdale did not have to mean that he did not love his town. But realistically, despite the sentimental music playing in the background while Archie was making his choice in the film, we wholeheartedly believe that Archie did not want to get too uncomfortable in London.
At the end of the day, the question remains: who did Archie love? It certainly wasn’t Betty or Veronica because he did not really care about their feelings. It also wasn’t his ambition because he did not want to get too uncomfortable. Archie only ever loved himself, and that is why the universe of The Archies could never extend beyond high school because the man simply wouldn’t be able to thrive outside of it.