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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.

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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. 


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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

Is Moose the TBK on ‘Riverdale’?

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Riverdale loves itself a good serial killer/villain.  
 
We’ve had the Black Hood, the Gargoyle King, Edward Evernever, the Stonies, the Auteur, and season 6 ushered in the Trash Bag Killer (referred to in short as TBK). 
 
Yeah, it’s a funny name, but there’s nothing funny about his obsession with stalking and tormenting Betty Cooper. 
 
His identity was somewhat revealed as Archie’s construction worker Dennis in one of the episodes, but that was clearly a fake out. Why would a man like Dennis care about Betty and Archie? Neither of them really questioned TBK’s identity or motives either, so it stands to reason that they know the real TBK is still out there somewhere keeping his identity tucked away in his pocket. 
 
On Riverdale Season 6 Episode 12, a fog spread across the murderous town forcing people to actually talk. Betty opened up to Archie about how she escaped TBK. It wasn’t much of an escape, however, as she reveals that he let her go after she passed his test. 
 
The test? Betty was tasked with helping him dismember a dead body. She seems only mildly torn up about it — chalk it up to being the daughter of a serial killer, I guess — while Archie shrugs it off at her attempt at survival. When there’s a murderous psycho standing behind you, there isn’t anything you won’t do, which is fair. 
 
Except there’s also a clue hidden in this story. Betty reveals that TBK let her go because her actions proved that they were kindred spirits. Alike. The same. Bonded forever. He also thinks that the world would be better with her in it. 
 
One of the things that immediately stood out in these flashbacks was how buff TBK is. The dude is ripped! (Last I remember, Dennis was not that ripped!)  When does someone that deranged have time to go to the gym? Or is it from lugging all the bodies around? I hate that this show forces me to have these disturbing thoughts, and yet here we are. 
 
The point is, TBK is much younger than we expected, and he’s into physical fitness. 
 
It’s likely not a coincidence that Moose shows up in town at the same exact time looking equally as buff. If you don’t believe me, this Twitter account did a little side-by-side, and it’s hard to argue with bulging biceps. 
 
Moose’s presence seemed innocent enough as he simply wanted to reconnect with Kevin, but there were a lot of sus moments that audiences likely overlooked. 
 
For starters, how did he get to the school when everyone was sheltering in place because the fog was so thick you couldn’t see a thing outside? We know TBK was in town because Betty saw a figure lurking in front of her house, though, Archie never ventured out to confirm the lurkers identity so it could’ve been anyone. 
 
Secondly, why did Kevin suddenly start having nightmares? Did Moose spike his drink?
 
And it’s all too convenient that Moose now has a job as a PE teacher, which means he cares about physically fitness and has time to workout. 
 
Moose then goes on to inform Kevin that he was fired from his trucking job when the Lonely Highway shut down and now he’s living with his dad, who recently got out of jail. We know that only sketch people are involved with the Lonely Highway.
 
And Moose isn’t impervious to the darkness as — reminder —  his father was the Gargoyle King who interrupted Moose’s first time with Kevin in the woods. Something like that has the potential to leave a scar, especially as Marcus Mason was clearly not supportive of his son’s lifestyle. Not to mention all that he went through while at Stonewall Prep (blackmail and manipulation) and the Army, where he enlisted at the behest of Mr. Chipping. 
 
 
It’s not fair to Moose who has consistently been getting terrible character arcs and deserves some happiness, but it’s hard to argue with the fact that the timing of his return to Riverdale is all too convenient and suspicious. 
 
Then again, Moose could be a red herring considering his motives remain questionable. Why Betty? Are serial killers simply attracted to her because of the serial killer gene? Or is she an easy target?
 
Hopefully, we’ll get more insight into the TBK as the season progresses because, as of now, he’s been the least compelling villain on Riverdale.
 
At this point, the only way to make TBK a worthy serial killer is to unmask him as someone we know. Someone we’ve all trusted. And someone who has a reason to cling to Betty. Wouldn’t it be crazy if Kevin ended up being TBK. He’s been so focused on criticizing Toni and Fangs for their gang lifestyle and trying to keep baby Anthony safe, but what if the fact that he’s constantly seeking out danger means he’s actually subconsciously Riverdale’s new threat?
 
And then there’s always Percival Pickens, though, that would be kind of lame, wouldn’t it?
 
Who do you think is behind the trash bag mask? And why! Sound off in the comments! 


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Best Shay Mitchell Movies and TV Shows to Watch

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Best Shay Mitchell Movies and TV Shows to Watch

All the Reese Witherspoon TV Shows You Have to Watch

Shay Mitchell has amassed quite a following on social media with her hilarious and relatable TikTok videos, but on-screen is where she delivers the real gold and pours herself into the most challenging roles.

Here are the best movies and TV shows starring Shay Mitchell to add to your must-watch list:

 

Pretty Little Liars – Freeform

Shay became a household name after bringing Emily Fields to life in the ABC Family/Freeform mystery drama. Emily and her best friends attempted to solve the mystery surrounding their best friend’s disappearance while fielding text messages from a digital stalker at every turn. Shay’s portrayal was also pivotal as it brought to life one of the best LGBTQ characters for the network! 

 

Dollface – Hulu

After being dumped, Jules (Kat Dennings) rekindles her female friendship with Madison (Brenda Song) and the eccentric Stella (Shay) and re-enters the world where your girlfriends trump romantic relationships. Each character brings a certain personality to the series, but Stella is definitely the most vibrant and worldly. 

 

You – Netflix

In its first season of the psychological thriller, Shay tackled the role of Peach Salinger, the best friend of Joe’s (Penn Badgley) first obsession Beck (Elizabeth Lail). And you know that any friend of Beck’s is an enemy of Joe’s. 

 

 

The Possession of Hannah Grace – Sony Pictures

Shay flexed her horror muscle as cop-turned-morgue worker Megan Reed, who accepts a delivery of a disfigured cadaver during the graveyard shift and is plagued with horrifying visions as she’s possessed by a demonic spirit. 

 

Mother’s Day

The film revolves around several different mother’s day events, including one with Sandy (Jennifer Aniston), a single mom that finds out her ex-husband is marrying a younger woman, Tina, played by Shay.

 

 

 


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7 Hottest Moments Between Thony and Arman on ‘The Cleaning Lady’

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Arman and Thony have an intense and electric bond on The Cleaning Lady

While they let the passion get to them on a few occasions, they’ve mostly kept things PG. So, how can there be so many “hot moments” between them, you ask. Well, good question!

When it comes to these two, it’s not only about the physical connection but the emotional as well. It’s about every longing gaze, stolen glance, and forbidden touch. It’s about all the times Arman helps Thony at his own discretion, and in turn, it’s the loyalty and support she extends to him. 

Here are the hottest and steamiest moments between Arman (Adan Canto) and Thony (Elodie Yung) on The Cleaning Lady Season 1! 

 

Season 1 Episode 1

Not only does Arman spare Thony’s life, but he “hires her” as the cleaning lady in order to justify keeping her alive. He sees something in her that not only piques his interest but also reminds him of himself. When Thony stands up to him at the airport hangar for the first time, she’s setting the scene for their season-long tug-and-pull dynamic. Arman acknowledges that she’s a woman that “commands respect” while noting that he’s “offering that to her.” He also reminds her that as immigrants, they need each other, and she needs him as he can play a huge role in keeping her son alive. It’s a key scene in order to establish the ground rules between these two power players — even if they are told at every turn that they have no power. 

THE CLEANING LADY: L-R: …lodie Yung and Adan Canto in the ìTNTî premiere episode of THE CLEANING LADY Monday, Jan. 3 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2021 Fox Media LLC. CR: Ursula Coyote/FOX

 

Season 1 Episode 1

When Arman risks his own life to save Thony’s after he realizes he’s basically walked her into a trap, it’s one of the first moments where he admits, subconsciously, that he cares for her. After the explosion, she pays him back for saving her life by saving his, which is when she reveals that there’s much more to her than meets the eye. Arman is impressed with how well she works under pressure, but Thony once again reminds him that it’s a give and take relationship. “You want me to work for you, protect me. Give me the respect I deserve. And if anything happens to me, swear my son will be protected.” He gave her his word… and he never lied. 

THE CLEANING LADY: L-R: Élodie Yung, Adan Canto and guest star Alonzo Ortega in the “TNT” premiere episode of THE CLEANING LADY airing Monday, Jan. 3 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2021 Fox Media LLC. CR: Ursula Coyote/FOX

 

Season 1 Episode 2

With Luca dying in her arms, Thony realizes she’s out of options and seeks out Arman and the club, who rushes to her aid and brings her to a private doctor that’s paid off by Hayak. Arman doesn’t just drop Thony off — he carries Luca inside, takes her burden, and sticks around to make sure that she’s okay. While he’s offering a shoulder to cry on, he realizes that he trusts her enough to open up about his past, which reveals that he understands Thony’s predicament all too well as he’s done the unthinkable to protect his family, too. The moment humanizes him in Thony’s eyes and the eyes of the audience. And when he sees that she looks at him with judgment for the career that he chose, it almost seems like he wants to become a better man for her. 

THE CLEANING LADY: L-R: ƒlodie Yung and Adan Canto in the ÒLionÕs DenÓ episode of THE CLEANING LADY airing Monday, Jan. 10 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2021 Fox Media LLC. CR: Michael Desmond/FOX

 

Season 1 Episode 6 

When Arman notices that Thony is upset about Luca’s procedure, he comforts her. He allows her to have a full-on breakdown (one of Thony’s only moments of weakness in the series) and cradles her in his arms. And all those heightened emotions lead to a very unexpected yet passionate kiss. I mean… really passionate. You cannot fake that kind of chemistry! Thony stops things before they escalate to the point of no return, but it’s enough to satiate all the fans that have been long shipping the couple. 

 

Season 1 Episode 7

When Thony informs Arman that she can’t afford the surgery and the liver donor, Arman offers to pay for the surgery, assuring her that he couldn’t have secured a huge deal with Thony’s intel from the FBI. “I’m in too deep now,” he says with an adorable smile, which definitely implies that he’s not just doing this for Luca. However, when Thony mentions that she’ll have to “talk to her husband” who has arrived in the U.S., Arman’s whole demeanor changes. The guy has absolutely no poker face, but it’s because he simply can’t hide himself or his emotions in front of the woman he loves. And while the moment isn’t exactly “hot,” it does reveal just how bad Arman has it for Thony. Plus, he’s still willing to pay for the surgery even with Thony’s husband in the picture, which is admirable. 

 

Season 1 Episode 8

The kiss right before Luca’s surgery was perfection. Unlike their first make-out session, this kiss was rooted in trust, honesty, and longing. Arman risked everything to get Thony and Luca across the border in a private jet because he cares about her so much and knows he might not have her around for much longer. The kiss is prefaced by a sweet talk where Thony reveals so much happened in Vegas that she’d like to forget, which prompts Arman to suggest, “hopefully, not everything.” “Not everything,” Thony admits. 

 

Season 1 Episode 10

Arman and Thony are like the modern-day Bonnie and Clyde. In one fell swoop, they worked together to take down Hayak and stole the $6 million from the gun sale after agreeing to help the FBI make the arrests. The action-packed episode didn’t allow for any real romantic moments, but the very fact that they trust each other enough to get into bed with the FBI while pulling one over on FBI at the same speak volumes. 

Also, the longing gaze and hang caressing while Thony visits Arman in jail is enough to make fans go crazy waiting for more #Armony (should we make that a ship name?). 

The Cleaning Lady Season Finale Review The Crown Season 1 Episode 10

THE CLEANING LADY: in the ÒCrownÓ season finale episode of THE CLEANING LADY airing Monday, March 14 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2022 Fox Media LLC. CR: Jeff Neumann/FOX

 

Come on, FOX. Give us a second season!

I’m sure there are plenty of other moments I could’ve mentioned — which ones would you add to the list? Weigh in in the comments below! 

You can read all of The Cleaning Lady reviews right here! 

13 Steamiest Moments Between Rio and Beth on ‘Good Girls’


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