Monday, August 17, 2009

In defense of Archie

People almost nerdier than I have been all aflutter about the revelation that Archie Andrews is proposing to venemous Veronica Lodge instead of sweet Betty Cooper.

Oh, poor Betty! Long these 50 years has she pined over and fought for the attention of young Archie, the red-headded boy-next-door who is constantly torn between her and her snide, conniving, uber-rich best friend. She's sat idly by while Veronica lures Archie away with money, vamp, cold shoulders and warm embraces.

And all this time, Veronica has treated Archie shabbily, basically treating him like a lap dog she only wants when she can't have anyone else, and when it means taking him away from Betty. She's a tramp, a backstabber - in a word, a bitch.

But I don't feel bad for Betty. In ten years, at the Riverdale High reunion, Archie will be a beaten man and a shadow of his former self. He will be forced to give up his spine for this woman, who will give only terse, barked orders for him to fetch this, take care of that. He will have to give up his best friend, Jughead, because his eating habits and wardrobe aren't "Lodge" enough for Veronica or her father. He will never leave Riverdale, except on the rare occasion that Veronica lets him act as her valet when she travels.

Veronica, having finally won the Archie prize, will grow bored with him three minutes after they leave their wedding reception. She will have a torrid affair with Reggie, and when Moose comes in to town with his NFL team, she will pay off a few security guards to let her into his team's locker room where she will throw herself at him to no avail. She will have men falling over themselves to get at her, and cheat on Archie more times than she can count, and none of those men will fill the void left in her soul that used to be occupied by her best friend, Betty.

Speaking of Betty...

Betty will go on to college, out of state. Brown, perhaps, or Yale. There she will learn to forget Archie and that hussy Veronica, and will throw herself into public works and social science. At a rally for gay rights, she will meet a woman and do a little experimenting. After that falls apart, she will go to some hip little used book store and engage in a long conversation with a handsome young man. The conversation will start with universal health care and end in true love. Over the next few years, they get married and become respected - no, beloved - members of society. She gets a job with a public aid law firm and he works as a doctor treating the poor. They have a few kids and are happy. There is never any question about their love for each other, she has bliss at her side and that sniveling Archie in the far, dim reaches of her past.

So I don't feel bad for Betty. In fact, good for the writers for letting her off the hook to find something better. Had Archie proposed to her, she would have had to work twice as hard to get him through college. Writing his papers, helping him cram for tests, etc. He's a moron, a slow learner. She never would have been part of a healthy relationship. Veronica would always be lurking in the shadows, trying to sabotoge everything. Instead of working with the poor, she would end up working as a law clerk for fifteen years because helping Archie dragged her GPA down to a 2.5, so she never could get it together to take the bar.

In the end, Archie deserves Veronica. He's as rotten as the woman he married. Birds of a feather writhe in misery together. These three have known each other all their lives. If in all this time Archie can't see what a catch Betty is, then to hell with him.

Or maybe he does know. Maybe he's letting her off the hook himself, knowing he'll never be good enough for the likes of her anyway. I'd like to think so. Maybe Jughead pulled him aside and explained it to him, or maybe he got food poisoning at Pop Tate's and had a feverish epiphany.

No matter the means, the end is that the right girl won. And what better prize than to be free of petty fools?