In an effort to build a space for queer people like myself, every Saturday I’ll be posting interviews, opinion pieces, listicles, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community from a Latina perspective. Welcome to Queerly Not Straight!
Enjoy and leave a comment below if you have a suggestion for what I should cover next. P.S. I, Lyra Hale, do not give any site permission to copy or repost my work in any form. If you are reading this on any site besides Fangirlish, it has been stolen.
Praise be that Riverdale is ending. And as it starts wrapping up the insane amount of storylines and roads it’s taken us down, the show has shifted focus to Betty and Veronica. They’ve always been friends. Sometimes enemies or frenemies if we’re being honest. But for many, there has been an undercurrent of romantic tension between the two. And this final season is delivering on a storyline that feels like the natural progression of everything that they have been through and what queer readers and watchers have thought was brewing between them for years with Archie as a beard.
Even though I think it’s a brilliant move to have Beronica endgame, it doesn’t come without its problems or people side-eyeing it. Cheryl and Toni, lovingly known as Choni, have been the main sapphic ship for seasons but they have never been given the focus that they deserved. And many feel like Betty and Veronica are “not the real sapphic couple of the show” or “sapphic to begin with.” But as anyone in the LGBTQ community knows, things aren’t that simple and there is no one way to be part of the LGBTQ+ community.
So join me as we break down Betty and Veronica, the importance of Cheryl and Toni, and where we go from here on out when it comes to LGBTQ+ and sapphic representation. On a side note, and for clarity’s sake, this writer used to ship Betty and Jughead for a while. But I still remember watching the first episode of Riverdale before all the crazy happened and thinking, “Whoa, I would love to see Betty and Veronica actually be a couple. Because those comic books sure had the tension and I see it on screen as well.”
Beronica Getting Together Feels Real
As a queer woman, I have always had this feeling about Betty and Veronica when it came to them fighting for Archie. It was giving, “I’d rather fight with you about this man than admit my feelings for you and the confusion I feel at wanting you or to have you.” Internalized homophobia is a thing and sometimes people don’t know the reality of what they’re feeling. This is especially true in a society where heteronormativity is seen as the default. It’s not. And if Betty and Veronica have come to the point where they realize that they want to be together, let’s go.
Now, from what I understand Riverdale is doing this whole thing where they’re stuck in the past and blah blah blah. But that doesn’t take away from the relationship that we’re seeing blossoming here and Riverdale possibly taking that to be a sign of endgame. This show has literally done superheroes, multiple serial killers, and at one time we thought they were aliens. Let’s not forget the angel and heaven of it all or when Cheryl turned into the Dollar Store version of Scarlet Witch. Anything is possible.
At the same time, I do feel like Riverdale is fulfilling some fanfiction dreams or just literally throwing anything at the wall to see what sticks. And that does sting a little even though I read fanfiction on the daily. I want intentionality behind my couples. And I feel that Lily Reinhart coming out as bisexual gave Riverdale an avenue to explore that within the show. So sometimes it feels like Riverdale is just doing it because what else is there? (Choni is, btw.) And I don’t want that half-assed kind of story for Beronica. I want the show to look back at Betty and Veronica’s entire history, including comic book history, and acknowledge that they don’t need Archie. They need each other. They want each other.
And in a landscape where LGBTQ+ couples are disappearing off my screens, I kind of want Betty and Veronica to be endgame. I want that validation that what I saw was real. But I don’t want Betty and Veronica if it means that I have to sacrifice Cheryl and Toni. I want both.
Then There’s the Choni of It All
To be clear, I haven’t consistently watched Riverdale for years. But every single week that Riverdale was on, I would look through the Choni tag. Admittedly they weren’t perfect. They did some really problematic stuff and I did not like the way the show/writing treated Toni. I’ve always felt like she deserved better writing across the board. Sometimes she even deserved better than Cheryl. But this is Riverdale we’re talking about and everybody is messed up when they’re not angels or floating through the air to save a town from a comet. Even then, I always cheered for Cheryl and Toni. They felt real to me from the start and there was something between them that felt so freeing and genuine when they were together.
Keeping that all in mind, week after week I would see people talk about how Cheryl and Toni weren’t getting the love and attention that they deserved. Sure we appreciated the sexy scenes. And by we I mean the people that watched every week and the creepers like me who just looked to see what was happening on the tag on Twitter. But Riverdale always lacked when it came to giving their main sapphic couple the love, attention to detail, and unapologetic focus of their love. And Betty and Veronica suddenly getting all this attention and focus is rubbing people the wrong way because Choni fans have been here with a sapphic couple from the start asking for more. And it must suck to watch people not support your ship that has been on and off for seasons, and then all of a sudden a new sapphic ship appears and they get all the attention.
Now, I’m of the belief that two sapphic couples can live in the same space. Shows can give us more than one queer couple. But I don’t think shows understand that and are afraid that we wouldn’t want it or can’t handle it. We can handle it. And we would love to have Betty and Veronica but also Cheryl and Toni. Because Cheryl and Toni have put in the time and the hard work across seasons of the most batshit crazy show on TV. And they deserve their endgame and their happiness just as much as Betty and Veronica. Because we’re not sacrificing one for the other and I’m sick and tired of shows making us feel like we have to pick one or the other so we end up fighting online instead of working together.
So What Do We Ultimately Want?
At the end of the day, we want Cheryl and Toni to get their happy ending. But we also are open to the possibility of Betty and Veronica being together because it’s something that I have thought about from the very moment I read Archie Comics. Everyone might not agree to that but it’s what I hope for because I don’t want there to be limitations on our love and I don’t think that there is one way to be sapphic or in a loving relationship with another woman or someone who presents as a woman. We can all occupy this space together and I’m really hoping that Riverdale understood that when they were writing up the final episodes of this wild ride.
There’s also a major need for people to check their biases when it comes to these two ships. Because the truth of it all, and the intersectionality of it all, is that Betty and Veronica are the white presenting couple. Sure Veronica is Latina and so is the actress Camila Mendes, but she’s a white Latina. And her light skin affords her certain privileges and perpetuates this Hollywood bullshit of light skin being given priority when it comes to storylines and screen time. (To be clear, I’m saying this as a white Latina myself.) Cheryl herself is also a white woman. But Toni is a Black woman; one who definitely needed more screen time across the board to explore her as a character, a woman, and as a Black woman. And I have always side-eyed those who easily have brushed off Choni for Beronica for “reasons” while complaining about a lack of sapphic representation on Riverdale in the first place like Choni wasn’t there.
Again, this show isn’t perfect in any way, shape, or form. It’s a mess. But it’s an enjoyable mess that has given us shocking moments that leave people dazed and confused when you explain the show to them and they’ve never watched. And I think that Betty and Veronica being endgame makes sense, especially being that repressed catty girl myself in high school that would rather fight someone (aka that someone being another girl) than tell her that I liked her. But I need a happy ending for Cheryl and Toni as well. Give them, and their fans, the endgame that they’ve wanted and cheered for ages. Then everyone can be sapphic and happy while Archie does whatever he does because he somehow thinks he’s still the main character.
Queerly Not Straight posts every Sunday with opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.)
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, Riverdale being covered here wouldn’t exist.