In The CW show “Riverdale,” Archie is sleeping with his high school teacher, Ms. Grundy. Betty is flirting with an Adderall addiction. Veronica is essentially Blair Waldorf. And Jughead? Well, he’s writing the next great American crime novel. Just like you remember, right?
The new hit teen drama, which is based off the characters from the long-running “Archie” comic book series, takes many liberties with its source material, but its most refreshing departure comes from retooling the friendship of Betty and Veronica.
One of the criticisms that was leveled against the original comic books was that the lives of Betty and Veronica too heavily orbited around the whims of one Archie Andrews. Yes, the two eventually received their own comic book series, but the crux of their friendship still hinged on stories like who Archie would take for a milkshake date at the Choklit Shoppe.
During a recent interview with The Huffington Post for AOL’s Build Series, “Riverdale” stars Lili Reinhart and Camila Mendes, who respectively bring Betty and Veronica to life on screen, emphasized the importance of liberating their characters from a frenemies dynamic and exploring their connection beyond a shared attraction to a certain indecisive redhead.
“They’re a matching set, as Veronica says. I think it’s so beautiful to see on television today ... two women on a TV show that love each other and care about each other,” said Reinhart. “It’s not all about the guy and they aren’t fighting over a man.”
She added, “It’s 2017, [the] year of women. Let’s show these friendships that are good and they aren’t catty and they aren’t two faced with each other. They’re very honest and very supportive and loving.”
The modern retelling aims to expand the worlds of these two young women beyond the archetypes of the “good girl” or the “rich girl.” “Riverdale” allows Betty to explore her dark side ― she almost burns a classmate alive in a hot tub as part of a revenge scheme ― while Veronica is considerably more humble in the TV series after the Lodge family loses its fortune.
In the comic books, readers tend to side with either Betty or Veronica based on the characters' individual appearance, but Reinhart and Mendes are proud to present more nuanced portrayals that will resonate with viewers no matter if they're blonde or raven-haired.
“I think people thought it was all about the hair color,” Reinhart said of the choice between identifying as either a Betty or a Veronica. “I think we’re all a little bit of both. If you’re a solid Veronica, that’s a little strange. If you’re a sold Betty you must be a one-dimensional person.”
Mendes added, “We meet somewhere in the middle.”
Watch Lili Reinhart and Camila Mendes’ full Build Series interview below.