Riverdale In Memoriam

Kindness feels so abstract nowadays. Everyone’s just trying to get by in a broken world. Survival instincts overload our brains and tell us to take care of ourselves and our respective herd, and to let the rest of the folks sort themselves out. No food for the homeless gentleman on the corner, someone else will take care of him. No help for the new mother with two jobs, because surely she has a family. Can’t stop for the person stranded on the side of the road with a flat, because you’re late. Or they must have AAA. Or someone else will be coming along soon. So many ifs and ors and maybes that everyone tells themselves to justify just driving on by.

But not Fred Andrews. 

Fred Andrews was the kind of man who built tree houses for the town kids, then rushed them to the hospital when they fell out of them. He was the man who would be your dad for the day at the town picnic if yours was busy, and check if you’d eaten and how you were doing in school after picking your drunk father up from the bar for the umpteenth time. No one was beyond help to Fred. From FP’s drunken stupor to Cheryl’s unending selfishness, every single one of them was worth helping. 

And sure, Fred’s fake. He’s a fictional character in a fictional world where teenage couples live together and half the town’s in a gang. But the thing about fiction is that it inspires. Stories can help save lives, and characters can help change hearts. They can tell us of a world that’s not our own and show us experiences that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Riverdale’s depiction of Fred wasn’t great because it was always easy to be kind or because he never messed up. He was great because he struggled and stumbled just like any other human might. 

“In Memoriam” isn’t just to honor Fred. There are so many instances when it’s evident that the cast is talking entirely about the late Luke Perry and his legacy. At the funeral, Archie says that his dad helped build so much of Riverdale, and truer words have never been spoken. Whenever they’re talking about Fred’s kindness and strength, they’re talking about Luke’s as well. We’re talking about the guy who kept balloons in his pocket for upset kids on airplanes, and who helped a bunch of (mostly) green teen actors learn how to navigate a complicated industry. The man who showed up to his son’s independent wrestling events in a ballcap and glasses to make sure no one ever made a fuss and took the limelight off his kid.

Luke Perry and Fred Andrews both looked at the complicated worlds in front of them and chose kindness. No one gets to choose their legacy. Thankfully, Perry had a team of writers waiting in the wings to give him the sendoff that he deserved. While honoring Perry and Fred, we’re also given a timely reminder of just how much small acts of kindness can change the world, and how very little they typically cost. 

The world is cruel. Fate is worse. Sometimes there’s just no sense behind the utter wrongness that it deals us. A samaritan trying to help is struck down by an idiot kid. A man with so much life left in him is inexplicably taken away by a stroke. We can’t change those things, no matter how furiously we may try. But we can learn from our knight in flannel armor. Not every good deed has to be some grand gesture, and you can be the one who comes along. A note of encouragement to a struggling coworker, a bit of food for someone who might not have any, a smile for someone who may have lost there’s for the day… the list truly does go on and on. 

We can be kind.

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