A Racial Reading Of The Riverdale TV Pilot Script

Vixen writes for Bleeding Cool,

I'm pretty sure by now you've read Rich Johnston's thoughts and Joe Glass's thoughts about The CW's Riverdale script – and now you have to check out my take on the diversity aspect. Riverdale is definitely full of drama, which is perfect for The CW. One thing that is different from a lot of CW shows, more specific "Berlanti-centric" shows, is the fact that Riverdale is chockful of diversity.

The Archie Comics I remember were very…pale, the only "color" in the comics were the outfits. Ok, exaggerating a little bit. Chuck Clayton was introduced in 1971 and many could say Chuck was the "token" black guy. Over the years, very few characters of color resided in Riverdale. This does not hold true in this Riverdale series. Let's take a look at the diversity casting (so far) on the series shall we?

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African-American actress, Ashleigh Murray, plays Josie, the leader of the Pussycats.

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Half-Samoan, KJ Apa, plays Archie Andrews.

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Latina, Camila Mendes, grabbed the part of Veronica Lodge.

When the casting of Josie and Veronica was announced, I was extremely worried if these two ladies would be cast in a stereotypical role. Judging by the pilot episode, I was right. There's a scene where Archie, who's new to the songwriter game, asks Josie if the Pussycats can perform one of his songs. The way it's set up, I wouldn't be surprised if there's a bit of eye rolling and neck action involved as Josie basically tells Archie to screw off.

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Without telling my age, I remember watching Josie and the Pussycats cartoon and not once did I remember Josie having a diva attitude. She was the leader, who was always level-headed. Gotta say, that definitely doesn't describe any of the scenes I read with this new and improved(?) Josie.

Judging by the "girl-group of color" statement Josie said to Archie, I'm going to safely assume that Melody and Valerie will also be cast as women of color.

Now let's move on to the other woman of color, Veronica Lodge. Will Veronica be the "spicy" Latina in Riverdale and take all your boyfriends (and maybe girlfriends) because she's better than you? Short answer; basically. In the comics, Veronica always wanted Archie, and Betty was unconditionally and irrevocably in love in Archie. In Riverdale, Betty is basically Bella Swan (btw, Twilight is referenced in this script, but that's a whole 'nutha topic) and Veronica, described as a dark-haired beauty, uses her beauty and weasels her way into meeting Archie who's on a "date" with Betty and of course he's lowkey smitten.

Yawn.

Latina women in the media are always hypersexual and promiscuous and in Riverdale, there's no difference. I mean, Veronica kisses both Betty and Archie in the pilot episode.

Don't get it wrong, I'm here for diversity in Riverdale – I truly am – just not at the expense of the same stereotypical tropes that have been around since forever. Contrary to popular belief, not all African-American women are angry, have attitudes, roll their eyes or necks, and not all Latin women speak Spanish, have an accent, are great dancers, promiscuous and are loud. I truly hope that these stereotypes are removed from Riverdale.

Riverdale has murder, strip clubs, diversity, disability, Scandal and even How to Get Away with Murder. It's a regular #TGIT lineup with teenagers; perfect for The CW.

Vixen is the creator of #BlackComicsMonth, a movement which promotes black comic book creators throughout the year. She spends her day pushing for diversity in comics, in addition to being a freelance publicist for creators of color and publishers.

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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