I woke up this morning to a shocking news story (and not just because the word “shocker” is in the headline):
In what’s being billed the “Archie Story of the Century,” perennially indecisive loverboy Archie Andrews has finally chosen the raven-haired Veronica Lodge over sunny girl-next-door Betty Cooper, according to the official Archie Comics website.
“Could it be true? Has Archie finally decided to take the plunge and propose to comics’ favourite rich girl? It sure looks that way!” read a note posted online Wednesday.
The posting is accompanied by a comic book cover featuring Archie, on one knee, offering a ring up to Veronica, depicted saying “Yes!” A teary Betty and shocked Jughead — Archie’s best friend — look on.
The storyline will span a six-part series, beginning with the comic’s issue number 600, Archie Marries Veronica Part 1: The Proposal, set to hit comic shops Aug. 19 and newsstands on Sept. 1, according to the post. (CBC.ca – link)
This is, of course, a marketing gimmick to boost sales. Show me a teenager who still buys and reads Archie Double Digests in these tough economic times ever. But still: Veronica?
- Will Veronica’s father even allow this? Has his opinion of Archie changed? Or will his elitism and high society snobbery win the day?
- Why Veronica? She has never treated Archie well. Is he blind?
- Doesn’t Archie see that Betty has not only outer beauty–and natural outer beauty at that–but is also beautiful on the inside?
- Why Veronica?
- Will Reggie manage to sabotage the nuptials? Or (more likely) will Veronica dump Archie at the altar (for Reggie)?
- Why Veronica?
I’ve always been of the opinion that Betty is the better choice for Archie. Whereas Veronica is high maintenance, Betty is down-to-earth and natural; whereas Veronica is at heart a snobby rich girl, Betty is a good samaritan; whereas Veronica has some deep-seated psychological issues she tries to placate or ignore by living a life of materialism and (non-sexual) promiscuity, Betty is balanced and devoted.
Also, Betty is more beautiful.
Need I go on?
I twittered my opinion upon reading the news: “Apparently Archie finally chooses Veronica over Betty. If this is true, he has absolutely chosen wrong. I hope their marriage survives.” Scott (Twitter) concurred in a comment to my Facebook status (fed by Twitter–what a tangled web we weave!) saying, “I agree… a women who can rebuild an engine is a far better catch than a girl with money…”
However, Ky tweeted back with an interesting take: “I always wanted him to choose [Veronica] because I thought Betty deserved better.” Her point being that while Betty may be the better choice between the two girls, Archie may not be the best boy for Betty. (It does beg the question, though, which Riverdale boy would be good enough for Betty? Certainly not Reggie. Jughead? Moose? Mr. Weatherby? Who?)
I’d never thought of it this way before. As an adolescent, it was always about which is the best girl of the two. I always thought Betty was the prettiest and nicest and thought Archie was an idiot for chasing Veronica all the time (sometimes standing up Betty in the process). I had never considered whether Archie, whom the CBC.ca article hyperbolously and oxymoronically calls a “hero”, is good for Betty. And maybe he isn’t. Archie is a fool for choosing Veronica over Betty, but maybe Betty is the fool for adoring Archie.
Maybe Betty is too good for any man, other than the generations of adolescent boys who’ve been following her, protecting her, wanting and wishing the best for her.
Maybe Archie choosing Veronica is the best thing for Betty, if not for Archie.
Maybe it’s time for both Betty and Archie to spread their wings and leave Riverdale and discover that there it’s a big world out there, where not every story has a happy ending, where high school doesn’t go on indefinitely, where people no longer drive jalopies, and where there are other men and women, some of them better matches for you than those near your home.
Take care Archie. You still have time to get out of this–you’re not married yet.
Veronica: if you do tie the knot, treat Archie well. You are equals in that relationship: don’t seek to control Archie. You are in this together.
And Betty: you take care, too. Follow your dreams. Hit the open road. Travel. Discover. Live, for goodness’ sake, Betty–live.
* * *
For the record, here’s how I think it will go down: Veronica and Archie will not, in the end, marry. Somehow Veronica will walk away, fall for some hairbrained scheme of Reggie’s. Or maybe Archie will see the light and break off the engagement with Veronica to pursue the woman he really loves: Big Ethel Betty. This ending would have made me happy in the past, but now I’m not so sure anymore, for Betty’s sake (she’d be a good wife, but would Archie be a good husband?)
Second possibility: his disdain for Archie and his middle-class ilk continuing, Veronica’s dad tries to intervene to break off the engagement. Veronica refuses, her love for Archie being genuine. Veronica’s father disowns her, disinherits her. Veronica becomes a changed woman through her love for Archie: she forsakes wealth and power and even family for life as a dutiful housewife of middle-class mediocrity (not poverty per se) with Archie. (Or maybe it’ll be a little more second millenium than that.)
Further possibility: Betty does not choose any man, choosing the single (and rumour-filled) life. She leaves Riverdale and becomes a powerful businesswoman and activist.
And Jughead keeps eating crap without putting on weight, that lousy so-and-so.