When we think of Archie Comics and even The CW, a network with dramas geared towards teens, neither one is exactly known for breaking any barriers or shattering stereotypes.
In fact, in recent years, it’s only been Golden Globe winning actress Gina Rodriguez, and her series Jane the Virgin that has been leading the pack at the network as far as diversity and fresh perspectives are concerned. However, with the series premiere of Riverdale earlier this year, which put a whole new spin on the classic Archie Comics, all of that changed. On the series, newcomer Ashleigh Murray stars as Josie McCoy from Josie and the Pussycats.
Traditionally, Josie has been white cast, but Murray’s portrayal brings an added layer to what could have been an another cookie-cutter teen drama. On the series, Josie is competitive, fierce, stuck up, and ambitious, but Murray has been careful about not making her a stereotype. In an interview with Bustle, she said, “[Often when there’s] a woman of color — whether she’s black or Latin or Asian — it’s like there’s this idea that, any time a woman asserts herself, she’s viewed as being bossy or sassy or an angry black woman and it’s like, no, I just have emotions, you know? I’m just feeling things; it’s a human reaction, and that’s what it is.”
Though she is a very different Josie than what people were used to seeing, Murray has embraced being able to address the things that often remain unsaid about race on TV. She said, “There are certain things that need to be addressed… this is just what it is. It’s like, ‘I get it, you [Archie] woke up with abs and all the girls think you’re cute and you think you can just walk in here and ask for anything, but the reality is that you can’t, and this is why — because I have to work twice as hard as you do.” For once, it seems like a teen drama isn’t afraid to really go there and talk about issues that ALL teens face.
Only seven episodes of the series have aired so far, but The CW has already greenlit Riverdale for a second season. Though she only had two acting credits under her belt before signing on to the show, Murray is already on a roll. The 29-year old’s latest project, Deidra & Laney Rob a Train, a whimsical and freshly shot film about sisterhood just hit Netflix today.
Have you been watching Riverdale? If so, what do you think?