When I wrote my initial thoughts on Riverdale after the first two episodes, I mused how my greatest wish for the show is to see Jughead and Betty hook up. Well, that happened, much to my delight. But what blew me away was how fast it got there. I actually would have enjoyed it more if the whole thing took its time, but whatever – Riverdale friggin’ shipped Jughead and Betty!
Fan response for Bughead (the unofficial but most popular portmanteau for the couple) has been mostly ecstatic. But there are some who are apathetic, and there are some who hated it because it’s a significant departure from Archie Comics canon.
But Riverdale had made it clear right off the bat that it’s not concerned with maintaining canon. Its key charm has always been about being a crazy, gritty reimagination of the world of Archie Comics.
Besides, what does “canon” even mean in the overall context of Archie Comics? In its years of publication history, it doesn’t exactly follow the traditional linear continuity format that Marvel and DC adheres to. Its characters and concepts have constantly been presented in “one-shot”-type ventures across different media and in various premises. In this sense, “canon” has no meaning.
Sure, Jughead has been consistently characterized as a “woman hater”, someone who’s not interested with girls and going on dates and all that lovey-dovey stuff. It’s one of his most distinctive characteristics – as distinctive as his crown and great love for eating. However, though not as much explored as his fondness for food, he has also displayed fondness for Betty. Maybe not in a romantic sense, but there has always been heavy implication that if he ever gets around to liking girls, Betty is his primary and ultimate preference. In the same way, Betty has shown an easy-to-confide, empathetic, and tender attitude towards Jughead. Hence, if you have managed to consume extensive amounts of Archie Comics through the years (as I did), you get to sense a subtle, exciting, nurturing, “what if…”, lovers’-chemistry-but-not-quite-lovers, occasional flirting-esque dynamic going on between the two characters.
And though I was satisfied and pleased of their pseudo-romantic tension for years, a part of me also wanted to see at least one storyline or version which would depict them finally giving in to those “what if…” attractions. I’m pretty sure a lot of long-time Archie Comics feel the same way. And, at last, Riverdale delivered this.
Another point that the anti-Bughead camp raised is that Jughead has been recently established as asexual in the latest comic book reboot and that it would have been good for the asexual community to be represented in pop culture. I’m not a fan of that decision to define Jughead as asexual. But let’s say, for argument’s sake, that making Jughead asexual in Riverdale would have been good for “diversity” and “representation.” Wouldn’t it be better to represent it accurately then? Asexual doesn’t necessarily mean incapable of falling in love or affection. Generally speaking, asexual means having low or no desire for sexual activities (moreover, some asexual people even engage willingly in sex, despite having no interest of it, for the purpose of pleasing themselves or their partners, or for the intent of making children). So, even if he’s asexual, Jughead can be in love with Betty. Hence, having him as asexual or not is irrelevant.
Lastly, there’s also the argument that Bughead happened out of nowhere, that there was a lack of organic development of their relationship. While I would have preferred it if they took their time (I enjoy slow-developing romances), I would strongly disagree that it was “out of nowhere” or lacked “organic development.” The hints of romance were subtle, maybe. But the subtlety is what actually makes the whole thing genius, as it somewhat reflects the pseudo-romantic tension between them in the comics.
The hints were there as early as episode two. When Jughead and Archie entered Pop’s Chock’lit Shop, Betty shared a “whole world stops” gaze with Jughead, not Archie.
In episode four, when Jughead was asking the gang what movie they prefer to watch before Twilight Drive-in gets closed down, Betty suggested Rebels without a Cause and then they exchange this telling look…
At that point, I was already asking, “Is Riverdale hinting of a romance in the making?” and had been on my guard for more clues ever since. But I didn’t want to assume prematurely.
In episode five, when Betty goes on a “date” with Trevor (as part of her research on the Jason Blossom case), Jughead’s body language visibly implied jealousy all throughout the episode (at least, for me).
But, again, I didn’t want to assume anything yet.
However, later in that same episode, this scene happened…
The swooning expressions all but made it certain that a Jughead-Betty romance was blossoming.
So, in episode six, when Jughead did this…
…I was giddily holding my breath in anticipation, because I just knew at that point that it was going to lead to this shocker…
And it was awesome! I’ve been waiting for that for years!
So, understandably, it was so easy for me to get behind Bughead. Really love them.
|The Nancy Drew-Hardy Boy role playing...|
|The affectionate you-and-me bubble...|
|The adoring looks they give each other...|
|The get-over-here sweet kisses...|
|The get-over-here passionate kisses...|
I would love Bughead to be the endgame, but that’s unlikely. However, I wouldn’t be (too) mad if that wouldn’t be the case. I understand that the Archie-Betty-Veronica love triangle is so iconic and that Riverdale will probably get there at some point.
But, for now, back off haters. Let me enjoy these delightful teen detective lovers while it lasts.