Connect with us
Riverdale Toni Topaz representation on screen Riverdale Toni Topaz representation on screen

Editorials

We Need to Acknowledge Vanessa Morgan’s Comments About Black Characters Being Portrayed as ‘Sidekicks’

Riverdale -- "Chapter Sixty-Five: In Treatment" -- Image Number: RVD408a_0565.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Madelaine Petsch as Cheryl and Vanessa Morgan as Toni -- Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW-- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC All Rights Reserved.

Published

on


Vanessa Morgan is fed up with how black people are portrayed in the media. 

And she should be. 

Morgan, who plays Toni Topaz on Riverdaletook 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.”

https://twitter.com/VanessaMorgan/status/1267086887535153152?s=20

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.”

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.”

https://twitter.com/VanessaMorgan/status/1268231377679417347?s=20

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.

Katy Keene Mama Said Review

Katy Keene/ The CW

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.”

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 Bennet

The CW/ The Vampire Diaries

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. 

Prudence and Ambrose

Netflix/ Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

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. 

The intention should have been there from the beginning, but progress is progress. Let’s hope he keeps his promise. 


Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Lizzy Buczak is the founder of CraveYouTV. What started off as a silly blog in her sophomore year at Columbia College Chicago turned her passion for watching TV into an opportunity! She has been in charge of CraveYou since 2011, writing reviews and news content for a wide variety of shows. Lizzy is a Music Business and Journalism major who has written for RADIO.COM, TV Fanatic, Time Out Chicago, Innerview, Pop’stache and Family Time.

Editorials

25 Shows You Need to Watch If You Love the City of Chicago

Published

on

Chicago PD Chicago Fire #ONeChicago crossover

With a population of over 2.7 million, Chicago is a dynamic and diverse city, which makes it the perfect backdrop for many TV shows, especially cop and medical dramas! 

Some shows use the city as just a setting, while others dig right into the core of the city, hoping to capture its essence. 

No one series has a “correct” depiction — they are all stories seen through various characters, experiencing different situations in the many, versatile neighborhoods. 

But, one thing that they all have in common? An undying love for the city; their Chicago. If you’ve been to Chicago you’ve probably heard the phrase, “Chicago is the new Hollywood.”

Truthfully, Chicago will never churn out as many TV shows as Hollywood, and it doesn’t want to; the rise in shows signifies everyone can find something to relate to in the city of Chicago. 

So, if you have even a sliver of love for Chi-town, you have to check out these shows. Let us know if you have any other recommendations! 

1. Shameless

Shameless
The remake of the British series uses Chicago as a backdrop for the uber-dysfunctional Gallagher family. Frank Gallagher is a single father of six and a drunk who spends more time at bars than with his children. In their parents’ absence, the eldest kids are forced to take on the responsibilities and raise themselves. Particularly, Fiona who tries her best to hold the family together.
 

2. Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire
Chicago Fire is the firstborn from Mr. NBC himself, Dick Wolf. Wolf captivated audiences with the rescue squad and paramedics of Chicago Firehouse 51 — specifically dreamy Leuitenant Kelly Severide. Aside from the bravery of the diverse team — who cohesively charge headfirst into danger to save the people of Chicago — the show entices with authentic relationships. The city not only serves as a backdrop, it’s a leading character with writers showcasing the best and worst of the city and its inhabitants.
 

3. Chicago PD

Chicago PD
The success of Chicago Fire convinced Wolf that Chicago was the perfect city for a franchise. And so Chicago PD was born. Now, this isn’t your average cop show. Nu-uh, not in Chicago. There are a lot of great things about this city but it’s undeniably also one of the most politically corrupt. Or as President Donald Trump has said on several occasions, a crime “epidemic” and “total disaster.” This makes it the perfect setting for a show spearheaded by suspected dirty cop Hank Voight, who uses questionable methods to get justice yet garners much loyalty and respect from his team. Intelligence handles the toughest cases in the Chi, including those of gang violence, drugs and racial injustice — they’ve seen it all.

 

4. Chicago Med

Chicago Med
Where there’s fire and PD, there’s also med. Continuing down the list of Dick Wolf shows, we’ve got the third installment, a medical drama with a cast as diverse as the neighborhoods in Chicago. Despite the lack of funding, Sharon Goodwin and the team work together to provide quality healthcare to their patients. Staying in the theme of the city, there are plenty of gun-shot wound victims, and a handful of homeless and drug-addicted patients, which often calls for psych consults from the renowned Dr. Charles. With three successful shows dominating NBC, there are plenty of opportunities for some gripping crossovers.
 

5. Chicago Justice

Chicago Justice
Three time’s a charm but four is an overstay. Wolf tried for a fourth show in the “Chicago” franchise, but fans simply didn’t bite on Chicago Justice. Although it lasted a mere season, it definitely made an impact. If you’re a fan of any of the three shows, or Wolf’s other cult-hit Law & Order, it’s a must watch. PD’s Antonio even joins the no-fuss team led by Assistant State’s Attorney Peter Stone, who is described as relentless in his quest for justice. There’s also a L&O connection with Stone being the son of New York City District Attorney Ben Stone.

6. Empire

Empire
Scandalous, messy, gifted — that’s Empire. Former hip-hop artist and CEO of Lyon Enterprises Luscious Lyon finds out that he’s plagued by an incurable health ailment and is forced to choose a successor. The drawback? All three of his sons have their equal share of talents and shortcomings. His over-the-top and ferocious ex-wife Cookie Lyon is released from prison and poses a problem when she comes to get what’s hers after taking the fall for his drug dealings back in the day. Even though the series films in Chicago, they pretend it’s New York. Usually, I’d be ruffled by that, however, Empire’s production opened up the doors for Chicago to become a sort of second-hand Hollywood, which aspiring actors in Chicago have been thankful for. If you look closely at various scenes, you’ll see our beautiful skyline dubbing in for NY’s.
 

7. Mike & Molly

Mike & Molly
Helmed by local Chicagoan and funny-gal Melissa McCarthy, the series finds her character Molly falling for Mike, a Chicago police officer she meets at Overeaters Anonymous. There’s nothing better than bonding over a few slices of pie! Together, they become each other’s support system as they embark on their journey to lose weight. Did I mention they’re Cubs fans? Bonus!
 

8. Married… with Children

Married... with Children
Much like Mike & Molly, some shows don’t give Chicago the acknowledgment it deserves. The cast of Married… with Children live in Chicago but they rarely showcase the city. Still, we’ll take all the love we can get, even if it’s just a mention here and there. The Bundy’s were “not the Cosby’s.” In other words: a dysfunctional family living in a fake suburban town of Chicago in the 80s/90s. Al Bundy, once the hottest football player in school, is a miserable shoe salesman while his wife, Peggy Bundy, once the hottest girl in the school is an unmotivated TV junkie. The “children” are ditzy and promiscuous Kelly and dysfunctional, yet brainy, son Bud. Props for making Buckingham Fountain so synonymous with the theme song!
 

9. Prison Break

Prison Break
Lincoln Burrows is convicted for a crime he didn’t commit and put on Death Row. His brother Michael Scolfield makes it his mission to help him break out of prison. His desire sets into motion several nearly-impossible plans, including one that involves him deliberately getting locked up in the Chicago-based prison to help from the inside. If you’re into shows that get your blood pumping while also focusing on the unbreakable bond between brothers, this is for you!

10. The Crazy Ones

The Crazy Ones
The single-camera workplace comedy is bittersweet because it’s Robin Williams’ final role before his untimely death. In the single-season series, Williams’ outlandish and personality-driven character Simon Roberts shines a light on the advertising world in Chicago. Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum Sarah Michelle Geller serves as his right-hand gal in the role of ambitious partner and Type-A daughter, Sydney Roberts.
 

11. Sirens

Sirens
Most medical shows focus solely on the professional lives of doctors, but this medical comedy follows three Chicago EMT’s and the hilarity that ensues both at work and in their personal lives. During its two-season run, the series remembered to tackle serious issues of sexuality, mental disorders, etc. while never forgetting to offer up a much-needed laugh.

12. Superior Donuts

Superior Donuts
A gentrifying Chicago neighborhood gets the spotlight on Superior Donuts. Nothing brings people together like donuts, also a popular staple in the Windy City. Donut shop owner Arthur is a Chicago-native who is “stuck in his ways” and doesn’t want to update the menu in fear of ruining a good thing. Things immediately change when Franco gets a job at the shop and convinces him that modernization isn’t always bad. What is bad? Fawz, a real-estate capitalist who desperately wants Arthur to sell the business.
 

13. Ozark

While the Byrde family swaps the hustle and bustle of Chicago for Lake of the Ozarks, the city is still featured heavily as the backdrop for many scenes. Marty spends time in Millennium Park, though, it’s unrealistic to see the streets without any traffic! 
 
 

See the full list at TV Fanatic.


Continue Reading

Editorials

Seeing Double: 21 Memorable TV Show Twins

Published

on

Best Twins on Television

Hollywood has a bit of twin obsession but sometimes, seeing double isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

Twins on TV shows is a pretty popular trope ranging from evil twins, twins who get into shenanigans together, and long lost twins who bump into each other and start a new life together.

Other times, twins are used solely as a plot device.

But really, there’s no shortage of switcheroo tomfoolery when twins are involved. 

Sometimes, the actors are famous twin duos in real life, and other times, a sole actor is brilliantly pulling double duty.

Let’s take a look back at some of our favorite TV twins both fraternal and identical. 

You may even come across a few doppelgangers. 

1. Cheryl and Jason Blossom – Riverdale

Cheryl and Jason Blossom - Riverdale
Although Riverdale kicked off with Jason Blossom’s death, the red-headed athlete was very much a part of what molded Cheryl Blossom. She loved her twin, sometimes a little too much as we saw their twisted and possibly incestual relationship play out through many flashbacks. Jason becomes Cheryl’s motivation for most of Riverdale Season 1 as she mourns his death.
 

2. Zack and Cody – Suite Life of Zack & Cody

Zack and Cody - Suite Life of Zack & Cody
Zack & Cody were ‘the’ twins on the Disney Channel from 2005-2008. The wild brothers lived the “suite life” at the Tipton Hotel in Boston. Honestly, who didn’t want to live in a hotel after watching this series? Zack & Cody had their differences — one was studious ‘nerd’ while the other was a playful trouble maker — but they never ran out of adventures to pursue.
 
Tia and Tamera - Sister, Sister
Finding out you have a long-lost sister? Awesome. Finding out that you have a long-lost twin? Ten times more awesome. Tia and Tamera were polar opposites; Tia was the smart, honest and mature one while Tamera was funny, highly impulsive and always getting into trouble. But even though they disagreed, they were always there for each other and shared a wicked twin instinct.
 

4. Olive and Cal – Manifest

Olive and Cal - Manifest
After the disappearance of Flight 828, Cal loses five years on his twin sister Olive. Though their twin bond isn’t broken, the age gap does take a toll on their relationship, and sometimes, it becomes hard to accept for Cal who feels like he lost his best friend.
 

5. Brenda and Brandon – 90210

Brenda and Brandon - 90210
Brenda and Brandon Walsh experience a culture shock after moving from Minnesota to the glamorous Beverly Hills neighborhood in LA. Everyone had a fondness for Brandon, even his twin who once said he was her best friend. Their bond only strengthens as the series progresses becoming the most enduring friendship.

6. Petra and Anezka – Jane the Virgin

Petra and Anezka - Jane the Virgin
In a classic telenovela twist, Petra finds out she has a long lost twin sister, Anezka, who has lived her whole life in a Czech orphanage. Anezka isn’t chic like Petra; she’s clumsy, jumpy and eager to please people, especially Petra. Eventually, she ends up terrorizing her life by poisoning her and assuming her identity. You know, normal twin stuff.
 

7. Michael and Lindsay – Arrested Development

Michael and Lindsay - Arrested Development
Lindsay may have been adopted at the age of three, but for most of her life, she believed that Michael was her fraternal twin so they’ve earned a spot in this slideshow. Michael places family above everything else works strives to keep them together while Lindsay is rebellious with a jaded personality and a flair for the superficial. Out of all the Bluth’s she’s closest with Michael.
 

8. Nicky and Alex – Full House

Nicky and Alex - Full House
When I say Full House twins, everyone automatically assumes I’m referring to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. But while the twins took turns playing the adorable Michelle Tanner, the character herself wasn’t a twin (‘Michelle Rides Again’ doesn’t count). However, the show did have twin boys, Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky’s bowl-haired boys, Nicky and Alex. In the Netflix reboot, Fuller House, the dudes make an appearance before embarking to follow their dreams of opening a food truck.
 

9. Phoebe and Ursula – Friends

Phoebe and Ursula - Friends
Unlike the zany and creative Phoebe, her twin Ursula, who first appeared on Mad About You, was an evil pornstar. While Phoebe loved everyone, Ursula only loved herself. They couldn’t be more different, and that’s why they never really had a relationship. It probably didn’t help that she dated Joey whom Phoebe considered part of her “real family.”

10. Sarah and Helena – Orphan Black

Sarah and Helena - Orphan Black
Sarah and her daughter, Kira, are sought after by the Dyad institute because she and her twin sis, Helena, are the only clones capable of reproducing with Kira being the first offspring of one of the clones. Sarah wants a better life for them, and when she sees Beth’s suicide, she steals Beth’s identity, along with her money and boyfriend. But she soon learns Beth was embroiled in a deadly police conspiracy making her the newest target.
 

11. Josie and Lizzie – Legacies

Josie and Lizzie - Legacies
Josie and Lizzie are twin daughters of Alaric Saltzman and Josette Laughlin. When Josette was killed by her evil brother Kai, Lizzie and Josie were magically transferred into Caroline Forbes via the Gemini Coven and she became their mother. Josie is very much like her real mother — level-headed, brilliant and caring. Lizzie, on the other hand, is a typical high school mean girl with rage burning inside of her that causes moods swings and powers that are harmful to others. Josie protects her sister and keeps her grounded, but Lizzie abuses that kindness forcing Josie to always be “second best.”
 

Read the full list at TV Fanatic! 


Continue Reading

Halloween

I Put a Spell on You – All the ‘Hocus Pocus’ Merch You Need This Halloween

Published

on

Freeform's 31 Nights of Halloween

You don’t need to put a spell on me for all these Hocus Pocus-inspired items to be miiiine!

Hocus Pocus may have premiered 27 years ago, but the witchy Sanderson sisters still reign supreme.

The cultish hit remains one of the most iconic films in existence and is a must watch every Halloween season.

Best of all, it inspires new merchandise every year. 

We’ve gathered all of the items you’re going to need to celebrate Halloween 2020 the right way just like the “sistah’s” Winnie, Sarah, and Mary! 

 

Hocus Pocus Board Game

Ravensburger’s board game, “Hocus Pocus: The Game” allows you to put yourself in the shoes of a virgin who lights the black flame candle and summons the Sanderson sister. The packaging looks like a spell book and requires you to stop the witches from completing a potion before sunrise. It’s a game that actually makes sense in the context of the film — how refreshing! Get it at Target for 19.99

https://www.instagram.com/p/CDX9XT7j4IZ/

 

Face Masks

There are some people who think COVID is all a bunch of hocus pocus, but the reality of the situation is that you have to do your part by wearing a mask and helping curb the spread. And why not do it in style this fall season with face masks inspired by the movie? The internet has plenty to choose from, but our favorite is the one that allows you to channel your inner-Sanderson sister! The masks, made by Bucktee, retail for $13.95, and allow you to wear Winnie’s mug, Sarah’s smile, or Mary’s signature lip bite. You’ll have people screaming “Amok! Amok! Amok!”

Bucktee

 

Spirit Jersey

As I mentioned previously, the movie is turning 27 so ShopDisney released a new spirit jersey that’s ombre green — the color of any promising potion — and features the logo in the front and a cartoon version of the sisters in the back! The jersey is “coming soon,” so get ready for a fall arrival! 

 
 

Billy’s Funko Pop

The Sanderson sister’s get all the love, but Billy was the true hero and the most underrated character! For those who maybe need to rewatch the movie this season again, Billy Butcherson was Winifred’s ex-bf who turns on the witches and helps the teens! 
 
You can get it exclusively at Spirit Halloween for $12.99
 

 

Nestle Cookie Dough

I smell…. children. No, wait, that’s actually Nestle Toll House Hocus Pocus-themed cookie dough! Yes, it’s a thing. The oatmeal peanut butter flavored cookie dough will be released early this fall. 

If you’re not a fan of cookie dough, buy it for someone who is a fan because the packaging, which features the trio of sisters eyeing the delicious snack, is to die for. 

 

Mantel Scarf

Turn your home into the Sanderson house! Everyone knows that the best part about Halloween is dressing up your space with spooktastic decorations. Spirit Halloween is selling a light-up Hocus Pocus mantel scarf that will give your space a witchy vibe.

It features the Sanderson sisters flying over Salem amongst the trees of LED lights. 

Spirit Halloween

 

Cauldron Mug

You can cast a spell in no time with the tie-dye fluorescent mug that features one of the film’s most iconic lines: it’s all a bunch of hocus pocus. The cup is shaped like a cauldron with a “wooden” stirring spoon. What are you waiting for? Grab your potions book and grab a spot in line because *for now* this mug is sold out at ShopDisney.

ShopDisney

ShopDisney

 

Wine Glasses

Fill ’em up with a potion that keeps you happy and young! Spirit Halloween has several fun and Hocus Pocus-themed wine glasses, but our favorite is definitely the one featuring the quote: “Goodbye cruel world.” That about sums up 2020. You can get the wine glasses for $9! 

Spirit Halloween


Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending

Sign up for the CraveYouTV Newsletter