Stunning, heart-breaking news: Archie Andrews is going to get married, and he has chosen the wrong girl. Archie Comics Publications has announced that he will soon pop the question to wealthy beauty Veronica Lodge in the 600th book in the series, due to arrive in September. Betty won’t be the only one crying her eyes out.
So help me, I had no idea the series was still running. I read my older brother’s Archie comics as a kid in 1950s — and that is where I thought Archie, Ronnie and Betty had stayed. Just think of it; they’ve been teenagers for 68 years, locked in a triangle that Alyssa Rosenberg at The Atlantic reckons should stay eternal:
But Archie could never really choose between Betty and Veronica, not because each was too impossibly perfect to resist, but because each girl was half of an ideal. Veronica is beautiful and wealthy, but the promise of glamour and comfort that she offers are shot through with arrogance and more than occasional cruelty and inconstancy. Betty can bake a pie, fix a jalopy, publish an article, or lead a protest, but she’s spent more than 67 years hung up on a guy who takes advantage of her talents and pants after her best friend.
Archie can’t make a permanent choice between Betty and Veronica because he’s not ready to choose—and they’re not ready to be chosen. Their triangle has stayed relevant for seven decades because, as perpetual teenagers, their experiences reinforce the lessons that are so heartbreakingly difficult for us to absorb, that flash fades, carelessness wounds, intellectual compatibility matters, and that being worthy of love doesn’t guarantee you’ll receive it. Archie, Veronica, and Betty are teenagers as they ought to be: lively, curious, brave, and convinced, like all of us once were, that their romances and heartbreaks are the stuff of legend.
But if this cycle must be broken, if the teenagers from Riverdale must move beyond their early explorations of love and grow up, then Archie should have made the mature decision, and the truly romantic one, and gotten down on one knee for Betty.
What the publishers have done is bless a teenage wedding — “marriage as imagined through a hormone-induced haze, pushing issues like children and mortgages and the question of how your husband or wife will deal with those challenges,” says Rosenberg.
If Archie wanted a life partner, a wife who knows how to work on a relationship through decades of disappointment and joy, Betty Cooper would have been an easy choice. She could have helped him figure out what he wants to do with his life, because she has dreams and ambitions of her own: She wants to be a journalist—a potentially quixotic goal as the industry crumbles in 2009, but then, she has plenty of practice chasing lost causes.
But she doubts that Archie and Veronica will “make it to the aisle, or that the characters will be shown having to deal with the consequences of adulthood—are small. In Riverdale, realism can go only so far, and no matter how many burgers Pop Tate’s Chok'lit Shoppe dishes out, it’s always been clear that unresolved love stories are the comic’s bread and butter.”
Nice piece of work, Alyssa!