Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Betty and Veronica - Best Frenemies Forever

Way back in September, I wrote a little piece on the concept of a ‘frenemy’, which is best described as two people who support and love each other while simultaneously attempting to discredit them at the same time.  The example that I gave to illustrate this concept back then was Garfield and Odie.  It must have been a great subject, because as of May 2, 2012, it is my most viewed blog entry.

(If you’d like to read that Garfield and Odie article, locate the blog entry dated September 27, 2011.)

For today’s entry, I thought I’d revisit the ‘frenemy’ angle, and talk about a couple of teenage girls (who were really ‘born’ 70 years ago but don’t look a day over sixteen-and-a-half) who also happen to share what one would call a ‘frenemy’ type relationship.

But, wait!  Isn’t this supposed to be BEST FRIENDS WEEK and not BEST ‘FRENEMY’ WEEK?

Yes.  This is very much the truth.  But, what if I told you that there’s a lot more to these girls than you think?  What if I told you that 90% of the time, these two teenage gals love, respect, and have fun with each other?  Even better, what if I actually gave you a direct CAUSE behind why these two friends sometimes backstab each other, or spread catty gossip about each other?

This blog entry is all about the relationship between two of Riverdale High’s most beautiful girls.

Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge.

Now, Betty and Veronica have had a rich, detailed history in the world of Archie comics since they were created by artist Bob Montana seventy years ago.  Betty Cooper arrived first, in Pep #22 (the same issue that saw the debut of two other Riverdale pals, Archie and Jughead).  Veronica came a few months later in Pep #26.  While their outfits, hairstyles, and teenage slang may have been updated and modernized over the years, Betty and Veronica have carried their basic personality traits and backgrounds through seven decades.

Let’s look at Betty Cooper for instance.  Betty could very well be considered the girl-next-door type.  She has long blonde hair (which she mostly wears tied back in a ponytail), she is a bright student, she can cook almost any meal in any cookbook from scratch, and she can even repair a car engine without getting her hands covered in oil.  Now that’s talent!  Betty grew up the youngest of three children, and enjoys a typical middle class upbringing in a two-parent household.  Although the Cooper family didn’t have a lot of disposable income, Betty kept a mostly positive attitude.  She took on babysitting jobs, made her own clothes, shopped at discount stores, and basically had fun living on a shoestring budget.

Compare that to the mega spoiled upbringing of Veronica Lodge.  With incredibly dark hair and a wardrobe filled with Paris originals, Veronica’s spending habits have saved the Riverdale Mall from going bankrupt at least a dozen times, if not more.  Much to the chagrin of her wealthy business tycoon father, Veronica takes after her mother in the fine art of credit card splurging.  Veronica isn’t exactly a model student in school, nor would she be caught dead in any of the stores Betty shops at.  After all, she is Veronica Lodge, and she is only used to having the very best money can buy.

So, as you can see, Betty and Veronica are about as different as day and night.  At first glance, you wouldn’t even think that they’d even speak to each other, let alone become best friends.

But, they did.

In fact, I’d have to say that the majority of the time, Betty and Veronica get along quite well.  They go to the mall together, they eat ice cream at Pop’s Chocklit Shop together, they work on class assignments together.  They basically do everything together.

But, don’t think that their friendship is all Brady Bunch like.  Sometimes, Betty and Veronica can get quite competitive with each other.  If both of them happen to enter a beauty contest together, you know that one (or both) will end up falling into a swimming pool at some point.  If both of them are working at the same job at the same business, you know that Veronica will try her best to get one over on Betty.  If both of them are running for school president against each other, you know that they’re not going to make it easy for the other one.  In fact, if you click HERE, you can see what happens when Betty and Veronica tried to run against each other in an election from the 1987 cartoon “The New Archies”.  Pay close attention to the ending of the episode though.  If anything, it will only prove my point.

And the point I want to prove is this.  Betty and Veronica may fight at times, but in almost all cases, they forgive each other because their friendship means more to them than a pageant title, part-time job, or school election.

And when it comes down to it, Betty and Veronica have gone above and beyond to help the other one cope with a problem they may be having, or if they are just in need of a friend.  Here are a few examples that I’d like to point out from various Archie stories that I have read over the years.

-      When Betty was sick with a contagious virus for a week, she was upset that nobody had come to visit her.  Veronica was out of town for a week, and had no idea that Betty was even sick.  When Veronica discovered that she was Betty’s first visitor, she rallied everyone else to send her get well cards and flowers, which cheered Betty up a lot.

-      When Veronica was having difficulty with the fact that her father was losing money, Betty calmed her down.

-      When Betty went to New York to compete in an essay writing contest, Veronica helped expose the scheme of a couple of girls who wanted to sabotage Betty’s chances of winning.

-      When Veronica wanted to stand up against her father when he announced plans to bulldoze a forest for one of his building projects, Betty wasted no time in standing up for her.

-      When Betty’s father ended up losing his job, it was Veronica who helped Mr. Cooper find one, thanks to her talking to her father about it.

-      Whenever Veronica goes on a trip to somewhere in the world, a good portion of the time, she’ll bring Betty along for the trip.

So, as you can see, the friendship between Betty and Veronica is one that I’m sure a lot of people have, or would like to have.  Their friendship has been one of the most enduring ones in the history of comics.  Their friendship survived World War II, the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Operation: Iraqi Freedom, and the recession of 2008! 

However, there is one variable out there that prevents Betty and Veronica from having an absolutely perfect friendship.  There’s one little thing that can transform Betty and Veronica’s friendship into an instant rivalry.  Something red that can turn Betty and Veronica green with envy.

Enter Archie Andrews.

You know, looking at Archie up close, it’s a wonder Betty and Veronica seem to have any interest in him at all.  Yes, he seems like a nice boy (and most of the time, he is), and he is, after all, the character whom the publishing company that prints Archie comics is named after. 

Unfortunately, he is the major catalyst in the whole rivalry between Betty and Veronica.

There’s just something about this red-headed, freckle-faced, black and white sweater vest wearing teenager that makes both Betty and Veronica swoon with delight.  Both girls are crazy about him, and they waste no time in letting him know.

But, here’s where the problem lies.  For seventy years, Archie has been cursed with the gift of indecision.  He has not been able to decide whether or not he loves Betty or Veronica more.  And, this has lead to more than a few fights between Betty and Veronica.

More often than not, Betty and Veronica will try to sabotage each other’s chances at getting a date with Archie (though to be fair, the ratio is about 75:25 in favour of Veronica plotting against Betty).  They did almost everything possible to each other include ruining the other person’s fancy clothes, sending them on wild goose chases, and even dressing up as each other to confuse poor Archie to no end.  It was madness to see just how low Betty and Veronica would go to try and win Archie’s heart.

It all came to a head during the “Love Showdown” storyline of late 1994.  Through four different comic book issues (Archie #429, Betty #19, Betty & Veronica #82, and Veronica #39), Betty and Veronica fought against each other tooth and nail, practically forcing Archie to make a choice between them both.  And, Archie made his choice, all right.

He picked the red-headed buxom bombshell Cheryl Blossom.

Cue the steam rising out of the ears of both Betty and Veronica.

Both of them tried so hard to get Archie to notice them, and what was it for?  In the end, Archie Andrews ignored them both just to be with a woman who made a few brief appearances in the 1980s.

If I were Betty and Veronica, I probably would have cut my losses, and left Archie and Cheryl be.  Instead, they chose to be gluttons for punishment and actually teamed up together to break Archie and Cheryl up!

Insanity, thy names are Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge.

Though, I suppose if you really looked at it up close, Archie choosing Cheryl seemed to thaw the animosity between Betty and Veronica.  Instead of hating each other, they mended fences and became closer...over their dislike of Cheryl.

So in conclusion, Betty and Veronica’s friendship is a strong one...provided that Archie is millions of miles away.

But, of course, that was 1994.  Eighteen years later, it seems as though Archie and Cheryl’s spark had fizzled, as you don’t really see them dating any more.  But, Cheryl still pops up in the world of Riverdale.  While the animosity between Veronica and Cheryl is still very much present, Cheryl and Betty have forged a truce with each other, and treat each other in a friendly manner. 

Three years ago, the Archie title finally offered up the answer to “what would it be like if Archie married either Betty or Veronica?”

In issues #600-602, Archie was married to Veronica.  In issues #603-605, he tried married life with Betty.  And in both issues, when Archie proposed to one of the girls, the other one did not take it well at all.

But one final point to add.  Once the initial shock that Betty and Veronica experienced went away, they were more than supportive of their friend.  Betty happily stood beside Veronica as her maid of honour, while Veronica arranged a special wedding reception surprise for Betty and Archie. 

So, who knows?  Maybe in their adult lives, Betty and Veronica ended up adopting a mature attitude in regards to Archie, and realized that their friendship was more important than a guy.

But as long as Betty and Veronica are still appearing as teenagers in the regular comics and digests, I’m sure that they’d always maintain a little rivalry with each other, especially where Archie is concerned.  Deep down though, they love each other the way that sisters would, and when the chips were down, Betty and Veronica could count on each other to help them through.

If they could only get over their ill-conceived love affair over the most indecisive teenager in comic book history, their friendship would be unbreakable.

1 comment:

  1. Archie is not the only thing Betty and Veronica fight about though. Veronica, despite having everything money can buy, is especially insecure about Betty's every little success. Whenever Betty has something good, an award, a radio gig, a modelling job, or a date with a hot new boy, Ronnie must take it away from her. And she would let Betty have Archie to distract her. So I am not sure Archie is the only reason Betty and Veronica want to beat each other at everything. Their rivalry goes beyond that.