Being a Riverdale fan isn’t always easy. You’re subject to cliffhangers, fake-outs, weekly murders, and an endless parade of humans so beautiful that sometimes you miss key story points because you’re distracted by their animalistic allure. (How bad can Edgar Evernever really be when his eyes sparkle so?) But there’s one piece of the show that we can always rely on to be wonderfully, perfectly, uncomplicatedly complicated: the relationships.
We spent the very beginning of the series watching Betty (Lili Reinhart) pine over Archie (KJ Apa), her very own boy next door. It didn’t take long for her to realize, though, that Jughead (Cole Sprouse) was actually the “weirdo” for her. There was a series of ups and downs for the duo, but we always knew that they would eventually find their way back together, Black Hood be damned. Now, Bughead is the strongest couple in all of Riverdale who fans easily root for — which is made even easier thanks to Lili and Cole’s real-life relationship that we practically saw bloom on our screens.
The other couple fans grew to adore was Archie and Veronica (Camila Mendes), a natural pairing as the remaining members of the Core Four whose love only grew with every wrench Veronica’s mob-boss dad, Hiram (Mark Consuelos), threw their way (including that time he framed Archie for murder and got him sent him to prison where he was forced to join an illicit fight club!). Whenever Veronica needed a partner to help her right her father’s wrongs, Archie was there. And when Archie needed a tender shoulder to lean on, Ronnie opened her arms.
The couple came to a heart-wrenching end when Archie quickly left town to escape from Hiram’s ever-pounding fist, and since he returned to their side of Sweetwater River, Archie’s been stuck on the far point of an isosceles love triangle with his ex-girlfriend and his good friend Reggie (Charles Melton).
Although Archie and Veronica’s high-stakes romance feels destined to return — even Archie’s mom deemed them endgame! — hoping for the swift demise of Veronica and Reggie’s budding love isn’t so easy, mainly because, like Lili and Cole before them, Camila and Charles are dating in real life, and they are really, truly sweet together.
So when Camila and Charles, as Veronica and Reggie, were nominated for Best Kiss at the 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards, I felt conflicted. Is it disloyal to Archie to want to see Camila and Charles take home a Golden Popcorn? Is pandering to my most gossipy desires to want to witness this love blossom right in front of my eyes for the second time on the same show? How do I root for Camila and Charles, while simultaneously rooting for a Varchie comeback?
I know, I know. Their real lives are different than their characters’ lives. People who are coupled in real life aren’t always coupled on screen, and most of the time, they’re coupled with other people on screen. But there’s something so particularly thrilling about a couple transposing their real-life chemistry into two made-up characters, like Rose Leslie and Kit Harington on Game of Thrones, Emily Blunt and John Krasinski in A Quiet Place, Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron in High School Musical, Jenna Dewan and Channing Tatum in Step Up, former Best Kiss winners Rob Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in Twilight, and, of course, Lili and Cole on Riverdale.
On some level, I want to give all of these couples their privacy; on another, I want to watch everyone experience love and connection in real-time. Isn’t that why we embed romantic elements into just about every genre — to see the form love takes for different people?
There’s no real resolution to these conflicting Archie and Veronica versus Veronica and Reggie versus Camila and Charles feelings. One part of me blames Riverdale for puppeteering my emotional investment in Archie and Veronica when there was honest-to-goodness chemistry to explore between Camila and Charles. But mostly I just need to remind myself that all three relationships — fictional and otherwise — have nothing to do with me.
And, truly, nothing beats Lara Jean and Peter’s first kiss anyway.
The 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards will air Monday, June 17, at 9 PM ET/PT from the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California.