It has been one of popular culture’s most enduring conundrums: Betty or Veronica?
Archie Andrews, after seven decades as a teenager, has all of a sudden grown up. Archie and his friends have made only the smallest concessions to the passage of time. Moose used to be dumb; now he has a learning disability. The Riverdale kids may send texts now, but the punchlines are the same, as are the featherweight story-lines. And the eternal triangle with Archie being pursued by both rich glamor girl Veronica and wholesome girl-next-door Betty seemed as unchangeable as Archie’s immovable red hair.
It is almost impossible to imagine now but there were similar cultural shockwaves when Li’l Abner married Daisy Mae and Dagwood married Blondie. Both comics thrived and became even more popular as their “merry war” bloomed into usually-gentle domestic conflicts. But in those cases, while there was a question about whether they would get married, there was no question about who the couple was. The essence of Archie’s storyline has been the rivalry between the brunette and blonde who were pursuing him — in a high school setting. If he is going to grow up, get married and even, as news reports have noted, have children, is there any Archie-ness left?
It may be that this is a plan to reboot the venerable series. While many people will react to this news by being surprised he is marrying Veronica, many more may be surprised that Archie is still publishing new comics. This put them on the front pages of newspapers across the country. I suspect that there may an accelerated storyline ahead that within a very short time will find the children of Archie and Veronica in high school with the children of Jughead and Ethel, Moose and Midge, and Betty and Reggie (well, if anyone can straighten Reggie out, it has to be Betty). And that the jokes will still be, reassuringly, exactly the same.