I just finished reading Jughead vol. 2…
Jughead is honest to god, such a sweet character. He’s hilarious and witty and super smart and dorky. To me, he is perfect. As an asexual, I don’t even like the whole “food is better than sex” thing that people use to define us but Jughead makes this his whole character in the most innocent and authentic way. The boy just wants to eat burgers and play video games for the rest of his life. I don’t blame him one bit. HE IS AROMANTIC AND ASEXUAL AND MY FAVOURITE AROACE CHARACTER I’VE EVER COME ACROSS. He’s actually the only one i’ve come across but still he’s great and the best.
I enjoy Jughead and everything he stands for so I didn’t hate the entire volume, but there was an aphobic storyline that dampened the whole experience. Sabrina the teenage witch comes to Riverdale where she gets a job at pop’s as a burger mascot. Jughead is intrigued by her because…she’s a burger. They become friends and Sabrina ends up asking Jughead on a date to which he says “yes”, not understanding that she wanted the date to be of a romantic nature. Multiple times, Jughead expressed that he’s not opposed to hanging out with Sabrina but just as friends because he thinks she’s interesting and would like a friendship with her. After the date goes badly because of Jughead’s extreme discomfort and disinterest in romancing Sabrina, she sets out to make his life miserable by casting a bunch of spells on him. They all backfire and don’t cause Jughead any grief which was actually a good thing to see, that Sabrina wasn’t actually succeeding in punishing Jughead for not meeting her expectations. In the end when everything is squared away and Jughead explains his not wanting anything romantic with Sabrina to her face, not once does she apologize for her reactions to his behaviour or assure him that its OK that he doesn’t want a romantic relationship. In fact, Jughead is the one that, on multiple occasions, tells his friends that they don’t need to change and that they’re good the way they are, that he likes them just as they are.
That was the most frustrating part about this comic- reading this kind and clever Jughead care deeply about his friends and assuring them that being yourself is the most important thing to be. Jughead gets none of this support in return. Instead he’s met with a lot of “how do you know you don’t want romance unless you try it first?” So much peer pressure that lands him in uncomfortable situations where he is visibly anxious. It baffles me how the artists can accurately convey his pain of being forced into those situations and all the while the writers are subtly (not even that subtly) making everything Jughead’s fault like Sabrina’s hurt feelings over her unreciprocated romantic crush and even the riffs between him and Archie over their diverging desires (Archie’s obsession with girls and Jughead’s obsession with literally anything other than girls).
It’s amazing that a-spec readers can see themselves in Jughead and relate to his struggles and laugh at his complete and utter disdain for all the other characters’ romance drama because it finally feels like a joke we can all be in on. At least, that’s how it feels to me. Connecting to Jughead doesn’t feel like any other connection i’ve made with alloromantic/allosexual characters. It feels so much truer. It’s really crushing to read an a-spec character be constantly reminded by his “friends” that he’s odd and strange and weird because of his romantic and sexual orientations. It’s unfair that we have to connect with the bad parts of Jughead’s experiences as aroace as well as the good parts. It is possible for the comic to be written in such a way that emphasizes his struggles while not making HIM suffer so much for it with absolutely no apologies sent his way when all’s said and done. He deserves better as a character, a-spec readers deserve better representation, and the aroace community deserves better period.