Vanessa Morgan is fed up with how black people are portrayed in the media.
And she should be.
Morgan, who plays Toni Topaz on Riverdale, took to social media to say she’s “tired of us being portrayed as thugs, dangerous or angry scary people. Tired of us also being used as side kick non dimensional characters to our white leads.”
“Or only used in the ads for diversity but not actually in the show,” she continued, adding, “It starts with the media. I’m not being quiet anymore.”
We’ve seen many African American actors assume the very roles she mentioned, but one that stood out in particular was “sidekick” as it described the 28-year-old star’s character on The CW.
While Toni’s on-screen girlfriend, Cheryl Blossom (Madeline Petsch), is far from one-dimensional, Toni often lurks in the shadows until it’s time to prop up Cheryl. She rarely gets any screen time without her other half, she has no storyline outside of her relationship, and she’s lucky if she gets a few sentences in a scene.
This isn’t a fault of Morgan’s castmates, who she defended writing that her role “has nothing to do with my fellow classmates/friends. They don’t write the show. So no need to attack them, they don’t call the shots & I know they have my back.”
My role on Riverdale has nothing to do with my fellow castmates/friends. They don’t write the show. So no need to attack them, they don’t call the shots & I know they have my back. ♥️
— Vanessa Morgan (@VanessaMorgan) June 2, 2020
Toni Topaz has been reduced to a sidekick through absolutely no fault or her own, and being sidelined is not a reflection or her acting. And yet, she’s the one suffering, even noting that she’s the lowest paid regular on the series.
To truth of the matter is, Toni has been underutilized in a series that should be tapping into her potential as one of the only few women of color.
For this reason, Morgan has made it her mission to evoke change: “To my black fans, I have now made it my purpose to fight for us. To the six-year-old me who had no role model that looked like me on TV. This is for you. We aren’t your token black non-dimensional characters. This is being black in Hollywood. I will fight for YOU.”
Toni isn’t the only character suffering as the writers seem to struggle to find story arcs for many characters outside of the core four, but it happens more often to the female character than it does to someone like Kevin Keller or Reggie, two characters we’ve seen the series attempt to integrate into the storyline as much as they can.
This isn’t the first time the series has struggled to write storylines for a woman of color as the same thing happened to Ashleigh Murray, who plays/played Josie McCoy on the series for several seasons. Despite having her own musical group in high school, Josie and the Pussycats, there never seemed to be a compelling storyline for Josie, the character which many argue was the strongest, most realistic, and most grounded. It was a shame, and thankfully, the TV powers that be pushed her towards the Riverdale spinoff, Katy Keene, where she gets the shine equally amongst her diverse counterparts. That series is still led by a heterosexual white woman, but the representation on the series far outweighs that of Riverdale.
Murray has gotten to shine and be included in the cast the way she’s always been meant to; she’s no longer a sidekick to meet a quota.
Murray supported Morgan writing, “These are the ways we can implement real change. The beginnings of concrete conversations and plans of action that will mold our future for the better. We are not asking for special treatment. We are asking for equal treatment.”
These are the ways we can implement real change. The beginnings of concrete conversations and plans of action that will mold our future for the better. We are not asking for special treatment. We are asking for equal treatment. https://t.co/5IEK3iM81D
— Ashleigh Murray (@iamamurray) June 1, 2020
Morgan’s statements came on the heels of a since-deleted comment that claimed Murray was written off the series because she was a “diva” who refused to share the screen with others.
“You don’t know what the f** you’re talking about and don’t talk about my friend like that. Another thing i hate BLACK women being called DIVAS for sticking up for themselves. Maybe the show should write for her like the white characters,” Morgan responded.
The problem extends way past these two Archie Comic shows, however. It’s become all too common for shows marginalize black characters… The Vampire Diaries’ treatment of Bonnie Bennett (played by Kat Graham), one of the few character’s of color on the series, is a prime example.
Bonnie was technically a “core character” but never got the core character treatment. She was a strong-willed, selfless, and badass witch, but she was reduced to a character that was constantly forced to make sacrifices for her friends, put their needs above their own, and carry their pain.
A moral compass, fixer, and the only woman bold enough to call out Damon Salvatore, Bonnie had the potential to have some of the best and most powerful storylines, and instead, they always revolved around her besties, Elena and Caroline. It wasn’t about Bonnie as an individual, it was about how Bonnie could help them achieve greatness.
Bonnie was always the loophole, she lacked proper character development, and for a series that thrived on ships, she barely got a love interest until the very end. And even then, he was killed off leaving Bonnie to suffer in silence… again.
Bonnie held her own, but she never got her own.
We’ve seen this play out in other shows like Dynasty. Jeff (Sam Adegoke) and Monica Colby (Wakeema Hollis) could make great antagonists for Blake Carrington, and there is a lot of family drama to dig into when it comes to the Carrington’s and the Colby’s, but instead, they are reduced to having limited storylines that are constantly getting dropped and downplayed. The lack of direction was so evident that Monica has taken a hiatus from the series.
Even shows that are getting many issues right seem to fumble when it comes to representation and characters of color.
Season 3 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina started on the right track with Prudence (Tati Gabrielle) and Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) venturing to New Orleans to seek out help from a Haitian Voodoo Priestess in New Orleans. MarySue writes it best explaining that the scenes set up the exploration of African traditions before sidelining the storyline completely and watering down the character of Mambo Marie. The series aims to be inclusive, but it reduces its impeccable talent from Prudence, Ambrose, and even Roz (Jaz Sinclair), who is turned to stone for a lot of the season, seem to be there, to being sacrifices that allow white characters to shine and become more powerful.
It’s 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement has gained more momentum and support than every before (tragically, due to the a heartless death of George Floyd, a black man, a the hands of a white cop), and while it may not seem like empowering black characters is something that tops the list of priorities, it should be. Representation starts at home and on our TV screens.
It’s past the time to make necessary changes in storytelling.
People want to feel represented, they want diversity, and they want relatable characters on shows that are well-rounded and representative of our societies. There’s no excuse.
And yes, there’s room if you write for people of color as human beings who are just as worthy of good storylines as their white counterparts.
Morgan’s voice was heard by Riverdale and Katy Keene creator, Roberto Aguirre Sacasa, who apologized and vowed to “do better,” and “honor her and the character she plays.”
“Riverdale will be part of the movement, not outside of it,” he wrote.
— RobertoAguirreSacasa (@WriterRAS) June 5, 2020
The intention should have been there from the beginning, but progress is progress. Let’s hope he keeps his promise.
When Does Jay Halstead Leave ‘Chicago PD’?
Jesse Lee Soffer, who brilliantly brought detective Jay Halstead to life for 10 seasons on Chicago PD, was written out of the series on Chicago PD Season 10 Episode 3, which aired on Wednesday, Oct. 5. You can read the review here!
The following post was written before Season 10 Episode 3 aired:
Halstead has been with the franchise from the beginning, making several appearances on PD’s sister shows, Chicago Fire and Chicago Med, so his departure is an emotional one for fans. Many viewers have long felt that he’s the glue holding Intelligence together, and he’s definitely the heart of the team, ensuring that Voight (Jason Beghe) stays in line. Some even thought he would be the one to take the reins from Voight upon his retirement, so Soffer’s decision to leave has come as quite a shock.
Naturally, fans want to know how he’s going to leave the team, the series, and his wife Hailey Upton (Tracy Spiridakos), along with when it’s going to happen. We’d rather plan accordingly than be blindsided!
While there’s not much information about the events surrounding his departure, the series is building up to it with the season 10 premiere setting up a conflict between Halstead and Upton, which bled into the second episode of the season. The way things are between them this season isn’t what fans are used to from this couple; it’s not “us” as Upton pointed out. And it’s not like Halstead to lie to Upton or buddy up with Voight.
Voight made sure to underscore that their personal feelings cannot affect the job anymore in the premiere, noting, “If it ever shows up on the job again, the three of us, we’re not working together anymore, understood?” as Upton informed him that if he keeps up his rogue behavior, he’s going to lose Jay.
However, one could argue that Halstead’s loyalty to Voight also makes sense as he previously asked his sergeant to be upfront with him about any rogue decisions before they happen so he can help out. Maybe that’s what’s happening here, and Halstead is lying to Upton to protect her so that she’s not dragged into it again.
Some fans have suggested that it’s possible Voight is trying to help Halstead get a new job, though, I’m not convinced that he would just choose to leave his wife to pursue a different life path without her input.
And while Halstead’s motives may seem questionable for now, showrunner Gwen Sigan assured TV Insider that “it’s going to make sense to the fans when they see the episode that is his exit. We wanted it to be really a showcase for Halstead and who he is and what Jesse has meant to this show,” adding that Soffer’s performance is “one of his best.”
It seems like it’s a real possibility that Chicago PD Season 10 Episode 3 airing on Wednesday, Oct. 5, might be the end of the road for our loyal detective, if not a clear sign that it’s the beginning of the end.
The promo for the episode starts off with menacing music as Halstead, in civilian clothes, explains, “I’m here to tell the truth.”
“One bad act doesn’t make you a bad person,” he continues, sounding pretty guilty about something from his past. It’s also possible he’s vouching for Voight, who he’s been supportive of since Anna died.
Halstead has always been the voice of reason who sometimes has to do bad and immoral things to protect the ones he loves. The line of duty comes at a cost, and maybe it’s one he’s no longer willing to pay.
The teaser attempts to keep things suspenseful with the text overlay reading, “For Someone, This Is the End,” which points right to Jay as we all know he’s leaving. And the ending, which shows Hailey in tears as she looks at Jay in disbelief, seems to seal the deal.
This could very well be Jay’s final episode. It’s possible he confessed to everything and there’s no going back to Intelligence. Maybe he took the blame for what went down with Anna to further protect Upton and his team and clear his conscience?
If you’re not ready to say goodbye just yet, there is a glimmer of hope still as a few fans pointed out that Soffer was spotted filming recent episodes, and since he’s departing sometime in the fall, it would likely put his exit at possibly episode 8 or 9 of the season, and in that case, something major must happen in episode 3 that likely puts Halstead on a path that he’s going to realize he can no longer walk on.
And, as one fan pointed out, his exit, whatever it may be, will bring his character-arc full circle because he’s about to do to Hailey what Erin did to him all those years ago.
Sagan suggested that Halstead’s exit will throw Upton for a loop, which does kind of sound like there’s a falling out between the couple. Or maybe Halstead has just realized that he needs to start putting himself first for a change.
Either way, it’s hard on Upton: “Upton is going to have some fallout, yeah. It’s a tough place for her to be in. She is just so connected to Halstead who not only is her husband but also her partner. They are so so threaded together in their lives and so to see her on her own and have to navigate that—she certainly gets into some really interesting territory this season as she’s trying to navigate that. She’s someone that’s not necessarily the best at dealing with her emotions. She likes to be in control and likes to feel like she has control of her headspace,” Sagan clarified.
Hopefully, as they wrap up Halstead’s storyline and do his character justice, they’ll also give fans one more Halstead brothers moment with Will on Med. We deserve it!
Only time will tell what Halstead’s exit will truly look like, but one thing is for certain—it will be devastating to longtime fans nonetheless.
11 New Movies & TV Shows to Watch Right in Time for Halloween
This is Halloween… so be ready for a fright.
The best way to celebrate spooky season (aside from with a pumpkin spice latte in hand) is with bone-chilling movies and TV shows. Thankfully, there are plenty coming at you this year ahead of Halloween.
From family-friendly choices to new installments of beloved classics, here’s a list of all the Halloween movies and TV shows of 2022:
Halloween Ends – Theaters/ Paramount+
Laurie Strode and Michael Myers face off one last time in the final installment of the Halloween franchise. See how it all goes down when the film hits theaters on October 14. It will also be available for streaming on Peacock.
Chucky (Season 2) – Syfy
Fans were absolutely taken with the first season of Chucky on Syfy, making a second season a guarantee. And after that jaw-dropping cliffhanger, you’re going to want to see what happens next when the murderous doll returns for more mayhem on October 5.
Wednesday – Netflix
Fans of the Addams family can enjoy a reimagining that focuses on Wednesday Addams played by Jenna Ortega, who truly embodies the Burton-esque essence of the character. The Netflix series also stars Catherine Zeta-Jones and Luis Guzmán as Morticia and Gomez Addams. No premiere date has been announced just yet, but expect it to arrive sometime in the fall.
Hocus Pocus 2 – Disney Plus
Sisstaaaaas! It’ll be a glorious morning when the Sanderson sisters (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy) rise again to reign terror on a new lot of children that light the Black Flame candle in Salem. The sequel to the beloved 1993 original has been a long time coming, which makes it that much more exciting.
Cabinet of Curiosities – Netflix
Step aside, American Horror Story. The new horror anthology comes from the mind of Guillermo del Toro and features a star-studded cast including Andrew Lincoln, Sebastian Roché, Rupert Grint and more. It’s based on a short story of the same name and features eight unique live-action stories meant to challenge our traditional notions of horror. Start streaming on October 25.
The Midnight Club – Netflix
The horror mystery-thriller hails from the minds of Mike Flanagan and Trevor Macy, the duo that gave you The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, so you know it’s legit. It follows a group of eight terminally ill teens living in hospice that entertain each other with life-like horror stories and make a pact that the first person to die will come back and haunt them. It arrives on October 7.
Ghosts (Season 2) – CBS
There’s nothing creepy about Ghosts, the 20-minute sitcom comedy about a young couple who inherits a mansion and realizes it houses the ghosts of all those who have died on the property. However, it’s a fun concept that definitely taps into the “after-life.” Come season 2, we’ll see all the antics that come with Sam and Jay officially opening the B&B. The new season returns on September 29.
Jeepers Creepers: Reborn – Theaters
The film will serve as a reboot of the 2021 cult classic, though, it’s not connected to the original in any way. Sydney Craven’s Laine premonitions and visions of the Creeper are timed perfectly to when the town begins to prepare for its first horror fest. The film will have a limited theatrical run from September 19 through September 25.
Interview with a Vampire – AMC
The upcoming American gothic horror drama is a small-screen adaptation of Anne Rice’s 1976 novel of the same name. It will sink its fangs into Louis de Pointe’s (Jacob Anderson) epic story of “love, blood, and the perils of immortality” with Vampire Lestat (Sam Reid). It premieres on October 2.
The Curse of Bridge Hollow – Netflix
The Halloween comedy teams Marlon Wayans with Stranger Things star Priah Ferguson as a father-daughter unit forced to save their town after an ancient and mischievous spirit causes the decorations to come to life. Also starring Kelly Rowland, it hits the streamer on October 14.
Spirit Halloween: The Movie
We’ve all shopped at a Spirit Halloween store, but what if we got trapped in one overnight? That’s what the new film explores, but unfortunately for the kids hoping to enjoy a night of mischief and adventure, they end up haunted by an “angry evil spirit” (Back to the Future’s Christopher Lloyd) who is possessing all the toys inside the store. You can start streaming on your favorite VOD platform on October 11.
The Imperfects – Netflix
Since the series premieres on September 8, we’re adding it as a bonus. The fantasy horror finds a group of teens hunting down a scientist, whose experiments gave them monstrous side effects.
8 TV Teachers That Deserves a Gold Star
With the end of summer comes the start of the new school season. (And new TV season, but we’re not really diving into that right now!)
As plenty of students groan at the idea of returning to the classroom, parents are likely finding themselves breathing a sigh of relief that the teachers will be taking over from 9-5. And these teachers deserve the world for cultivating young minds with all the necessary skills and education to survive in the real world and thrive!
Ahead of the 2022-2023 school season, we’re nominating some of our favorite and most-memorable teachers that we know are bound to make any school year more exciting.
To be honest, we’re just jealous they weren’t our teachers in real life, but we’re glad these TV shows—both new and old— are allowing us to attend their class anyway!
Abbott Elementary Staff
The teachers at Abbott Elementary are hands-down the most caring and inspirational. They don’t have much, but they pour themselves into the school and its children. They are passionate about the work that they do, they navigate every roadblock that comes their way, and they show up day in and day out with creative ideas and new approaches to help ensure that students are getting the most out of their school day. Janine, Gregory, Melissa, Barbara, and Jacob are the best of the bunch.
Mr. Feeny – Boy Meets World
’90s kids know there was no better teacher—on TV or in real life— than Mr. Feeney. William Daniels brought so much care and wisdom to the role. He was a role model, a mentor, and a friend that guided Cory Matthews and his friends throughout every single moment of their adolescence. We’ve all applied the teachings and advice of Mr. Feeny to our everyday lives, including his most important lesson: “do good.”
Cory Matthews – Girl Meets World
Mr. Feeny was so inspirational that when Cory became an adult, he followed in his footsteps. In Girl Meets World, the follow-up to Boy Meets World, Cory becomes a history teacher in hopes of guiding another generation using the same world-life lessons and mentorship that he received from Mr. Feeny.
Jessica Day – New Girl
Zooey Deschanel’s character was largely defined by her quirky behavior, but it’s also what made her such a promising middle school teacher at Coolidge Middle School. She was creative, sang a ton of songs, and really nailed the teacher aesthetic. She was also meant to be a nurturer as she later takes on other roles within the education system like substitute teacher and principal.
Liz Ortecho – Roswell, New Mexico
Lily Aldrin – How I Met Your Mother
Lily’s kindergarten stories are relatable, not to mention they make for some funny moments throughout the series, including how she attempted to pick a baby name not connected to any of the bad students in her class. But overall, Lily’s quirkiness, energy, and motherly presence would make her a teacher we’d want to have.
Alaric Saltzman – The Vampire Diaries/Legacies
Haley – One Tree Hill
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