Betty Cooper, who was primarily defined in the Archie comics by her crush on Archie Andrews, is often seen as a the “girl next door.” Everything from her blonde ponytail down to her love of automotive repair made Betty a prototype for wholesome Americana as it was defined when the comics debuted in the 1940s.
But the ‘40s have long since passed, and as we all know, looks can sometimes be deceiving. Often, the “girl next door” has a lot of secrets of her own, and while it’s easy to hide behind a smile, her outward appearance doesn’t tell the whole story.
When Riverdale premieres tonight on the CW, it will give Betty that reboot that she deserves, showing audiences that there’s a multi-layered and complex girl underneath that bouncy hair and jean jacket.
For Lili Reinhart, who plays Betty, that three-dimensional transformation of these characters was extremely important. In the comics, Betty is tangled within a love triangle consisting of herself, Archie, and Veronica that, despite Betty’s friendship with Veronica, serves as a huge plot for a lot of the comics. Pitting women against each other? We’re so not here for that.
And neither is Riverdale. The show puts Betty and Veronica’s friendship front and center, pushing the love triangle off to the side. That decision was important to Lili, who tells Teen Vogue, “Our show does not focus on the rivalry and on the love triangle. These girls have other things going on in their lives besides Archie. There’s definitely a friendship there, and the friendship is strong at the end of the day. They aren’t frenemies, they aren’t rivals; they’re best friends, and they do truly care for each other.”
She adds that it’s important to honor the complex friendship between Betty and Veronica, who may fight and clash, but deep down, love one another and care for each other deeply. As anyone who has had a fight with their best friend knows, there’s nothing more relatable than that. Lili adds, “That’s beautiful and very refreshing to see on television…to not portray young women as being catty against one another. They can actually have these beautiful, strong friendships,” and notes that Betty and Veronica especially “don’t need to be pitted against each other, like they were in the comics.”