Rarely, but sometimes, a tweet stops you in your tracks, demanding investigation. Here is one:
Now, look, Archie, the comics franchise, has been around since World War II. Its creators (John L. Goldwater, Bob Montana and Vic Bloom) didn’t conceive of a future with Twitter, let alone people using such technology to argue whether their protagonist fit the definition of certain “memes.” But the surprising longevity of the world they imagined — the idyllic American town of Riverdale, where red-headed Archie and his friends navigate high school and young love — has made for generational updates to the concept, including a recent “gritty” TV drama, Riverdale.
In the context of that cycle, it makes perfect sense to ask whether Archie Andrews is a “simp.” The term isn’t new, though Gen Z and TikTok revived it as an epithet: It’s a guy who worships and debases himself for women who won’t give him the time of day. Lately, though, the kids have put a positive spin on simping — it can be affectionate, even respectful, and disconnected from any hope of sex.
But either way, does Archie, constantly torn between infatuations with Betty Cooper (the cute blonde next door) and Veronica Lodge (the vain but beautiful rich brunette) qualify for the title?
The earliest argument for his simphood appears to be a 2014 blog post by writer Shawn James, who contends that Archie is an all-out “SIMP ICON.” As James has it: “When it comes to women, Archie is so thirsty you wonder if he’s living in the Mojave desert not Riverdale. Archie is so desperate for female attention he sacrifices his intangibles such as his dignity, self-respect and self-worth just to get anything in a skirt to look at him.”
James’ overall view is that by making himself subservient to Veronica without getting laid in return (while overlooking the respect he gets from Betty), Archie is a classic simp. Fans of the comic have also turned up a strip in which Archie declares himself a simp, basically for the same reasons: He feels bossed around and used by Veronica, and therefore less of a man.
But as for whether the Archie Comics YouTube channel is currently beset by trolls calling Archie a simp… I have my doubts. More likely this is a savvy ploy to drive engagement and subscribers on videos that could perform better. Act like you’re trying to nip something in the bud, get it to trend on Twitter, and suddenly, more people are engaging with your stuff. The latest “Archie Motion Comics” are almost a year old at this point, and the comments are pretty tame: Viewers compliment the voice dubs, ask after the next episode and stan their favorite romantic pairings.
Josh Fruhlinger, a writer who has blogged as “The Comics Curmudgeon” since 2004, doesn’t quite see the simp angle regardless. “I would argue that the relationships between Archie, Betty and Veronica are actually a constantly shifting power dynamic, each taking turns as the pursuer and the pursued, as the narrative demands of each storyline dictate,” he tells me in a Twitter DM.
That is, Betty and Veronica can often be read as simping for Archie, and can you really simp for a simp? One of life’s great mysteries. But to earnestly label Archie this way is to invoke the original, misogynist overtones of the word, and that’s best left to the toxic manosphere. “I feel like incel/MGTOW types would be quick to embrace Jughead,” Fruhlinger adds, referring to Archie’s sarcastic best friend, who seems to care more about food than girls. “But the thing is that Jughead isn’t mad about women, just indifferent. A true ace/volcel icon.”
True, though not as bankable right this moment — Jughead certainly fucks on Riverdale. Until they figure out how to make asexuality viral, I guess we’ll be stuck talking about Archie the simp.