Jug, what you said at Pop’s, I heard you. And whatever you need to do or explore, I support you.
Riverdale 2.01 – A Kiss Before Dying
I have so many feelings about Betty’s statement of support to Jughead. (So. Many. Feelings.)
Being a safe space
In 2.01, I love that Betty doesn’t try to hide that she’s worried and upset. It’s not my favorite dynamic to watch, since I like seeing them be like an adorable pile of kittens with each other, but Betty’s most acute psychological problems and self-harm behaviors come from repressing her feelings to pretend things are fine when they aren’t. She isn’t conveying the full extent of her feelings, which makes sense given the circumstances, but she’s frustrated with Jughead and doesn’t try to hide it. His humor grates on her in a way it usually doesn’t and she spends a lot of the episode shooting Jughead these seriously? and why are you like this? looks.
I’m sure to Jughead this doesn’t feel like a good thing while it’s happening, but it actually is, especially since expressing negative emotions that relate to her own feelings is something Betty struggles with. We’ve seen her avoid expressing feelings that will hurt or even just inconvenience someone else at horrifying cost to herself. I’m stanning so hard for how Betty lets herself have and express inconvenient feelings in this episode.
Jughead and their relationship are still a safe space to be herself. In so much of her life, Betty feels that she has to go all the-Stepfords-of-Riverdale to avoid conflict until she literally starts tearing herself up about it. And she’s not retreating into her version of Alice’s unhinged behavior, which on Betty is a tragic mix of elaborate plots and snowballing lies in order to spare someone else’s feelings that just ends up hurting everyone, and badly.
So be glad your girlfriend is visibly frustrated with you, Jug. Relationships are weird like that.
Making a safe space
Betty’s expressions show how hard making this statement of support is for her. Betty can be rigid and walks this line between passionate and obsessive when she’s fighting for something. And she wants so badly to fight for Jughead here. So stepping back and letting him have their relationship be a safe space where she’ll support him even if she doesn’t agree with his actions or decisions is an interesting choice. Given how dangerous and high-stakes the situation is, this may be another of their road to hell paved with good intentions moments. But Jughead’s resources and support system, such as it was, have been systematically demolished over the first season. Knowing that he still has Betty’s support must feel like such a lifeline being tossed out between them.
For all Jughead’s smirks and snark, awkward humor and adorable flirting, to me most of his behavior—both charming and uncharming—falls into the category of not waving but drowning. Under all the misdirection and self-defense mechanisms, Jughead is operating from a place of fear. Just look at how scared he is when Betty first brings up their conversation at Pop’s outside the hospital:
Betty giving him some sense of safety in some part of his life—combined with continuing to be honest about her concerns—is so important for his well-being. Knowing that Betty (and Archie!) care that much about him may help him to make better decisions for himself in the long-term by validating that what happens to him does matter despite all the Powers That Be telling him otherwise, over and over.
Betty and Jughead are so young that the only way they will work as a couple over a longer period of time is if they let each other explore and change rather than getting stuck on their idea of who the other person is. And, beyond that, sometimes you have to let people make mistakes and love them anyway. To me, that’s a much sadder and realer part of being in a relationship than just a simple ride-or-die.
<b><p></b> <b><p></b> <b><p></b> <b><p></b> <b><p></b> <b><p></b> <b>Veronica:</b> The stars look beautiful tonight...<p/><b>Archie:</b> yeah they do<p/><b>Jughead:</b> Do you know who else is beautiful?<p/><b>All three, together:</b> Betty Cooper<p/></p><p/></p><p/></p><p/></p><p/></p><p/></p><p/></p>