The Archie Essays

The wave of “Are You a Betty or a Veronica?” merchandise was rather shortlived. The characters have retuned to somewhat less arch (to coin a phrase) postures. I still have several of the greeting cards (which have Betty proclaiming :”It’s so hard being the SMART one” while Veronica inquires “Who doesn’t LOVE to shop?”).

In older times, Betty and Veronica were celebrated for their similarities, not their differences. The best stories, in their Betty & Veronica title, had them adventuring together and enduring each others personality extremes. Apart, they became one-note jokes: Betty the salivating puppydog who chases after Archie but is too insecure or inexperienced to win him; Veronica the spoiled, worldly flirt who takes Archie, and the rest of her devoted friends, for granted.

It’s not their  rivalry that makes these characters work; it’s their complementary qualities. How they have distinct yet equally worthwhile reactions to the same teen situations. How they prioritize differently. How they respect each other, reassure each other and validate each other.

Ginger vs. Mary Ann? That’s a random poll of comely castaways from disparate cultures. Betty & Veronica, on the other hand, are lifelong friends coping with the turmoils and triumphs of being teenagers in Riverdale together. That’s the attraction.