On the surface, Riverdale might be an investigation into who killed Jason Blossom and why no one’s noticed Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) isn’t the brightest bulb in the box, but yesterday the CW teen drama got subtly serious. "La Grande Illusion" follows Archie’s decision to get close to the Blossoms in order to further his music career and possibly save his dad’s construction business. While all of that sounds pretty soapy, there were some major dings against white and male privilege hiding underneath all the perfectly-dressed redheads.
We first start getting the privilege-y vibes as Archie tells all his Riverdale friends the Blossoms are helping him get into "some super exclusive" summer music program in exchange for spending time with Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch). Jughead (Cole Sprouse), who’s homeless and comes from "the other side of the tracks," asks the obvious question of, "Do you have to audition for it?" Oblivious Archie — who's actually played by a biracial actor, but is coded as white on Riverdale — responds, "Not exactly, Mrs. Blossom came by earlier and said she’d put in a good word for me."
That means Archie doesn’t even have to prove he’s talented to get into this elite music academy. The right people simply like him, so he’s awarded a golden ticket to huge opportunities — no questions asked.
Archie’s girlfriend-who-deserves-better, Val (Hayley Law), calls him out on his new-found privilege, asking, "Wouldn’t you rather earn your place at that table, with your music?" she asks, practically invoking the hallowed words of Solange. As a young woman of color and fellow musician, Val isn't being offered the same simple road to success as Archie is right now.
The failing boyfriend manages to give the top justification for privilege ever, saying, "All the Blossoms are doing is opening a door for me." Again, he’s ignoring the fact he didn’t do any work for that door to be opened. The Blossom clan only deemed him worthy of advancement because he looks like a nice, handsome escort for their daughter.
The privilege train continues for Archibald, as the Blossoms call him, at a fancy dinner. During the soiree, Cliff Blossom explains to Archie that Cheryl is now the heir to the family business, which is terrifying their board of investors. The best way to fix this problem? By having Archie date Cheryl.
“Now someone with your stock and character by her side, tempering her more erratic behavior?” he explains to Archie. “It's about creating a picture, the right picture. Having you with us, with Cheryl, it tells a very appealing story." Now Archie is essentially being offered an entire maple syrup fortune because, you know, you can’t trust women and their hysterics with business decisions.
Thankfully, Archie realizes he's drowning in privilege and cuts things off with the manipulative Blossoms. His choice didn't come fast enough for Val, however, who breaks up with him by "Grande Illusion's" end. As we said, she definitely deserves better.