'Riverdale' needs to give Choni the screen time they goddamn deserve

12 October 2018, 17:07 | Updated: 16 October 2018, 16:08

Riverdale Choni
Picture: The CW

By Olivia Jones

And Kevin and Moose, while we're at it.

Riverdale is back. YES. YES. YES. Season three premiered this week (Oct 10) with an explosive (and slightly terrifying) first episode. If the rest of the season is anything like what we've just seen, we're in for even more drama, even more death and of course, even more romance - which means more airtime for Varchie, Bughead, Choni and whole host of teen romances. (Oh, and Falice... obvs).

Now let’s be straight, Varchie (Veronica and Archie) is a relationship which seems to be largely based on sexual desire rather than anything particularly heartfelt, despite Archie’s strange need to impress Mr. Lodge. Then there’s Bughead (Betty and Jughead) who I have no problem with, I actually just really want them to work out.

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Choni (Cheryl and Toni), however, has a lot of of potential to be the relationship we deserve but there seems to be the one thing getting in the way - air time. We are currently on a high right now (Cheryl became a serpent at the end of season two and was given her own cool RED leather jacket and her relationship with Toni is stronger than ever) but given the sheer amount of Choni scenes that keep getting cut, it seems like the rollercoaster of love might hurtle us back towards the ground again in Season 3.

Choni shippers have had it rough. Several scenes of Cheryl and Toni together have been cut, including one scene where Toni moved in with Cheryl at Thistlehouse - which would have been a major moment in the development of their relationship on the show. Vanessa Morgan, who plays Toni, described the scene: “Well, the moment that was cut from the episode was me just pulling up to her house — on my motorcycle of course,” she told Sweetwater Secrets. “And I went up to the door with my bag and I just smile at her. And then she's like, 'Welcome home!' but we didn’t end up keeping it.” Someone call 911, we've been robbed.

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Oh, and don't get us started on Choni's supposed 3-month long summer road trip that was mentioned in episode one of the new season - which we saw precisely zero seconds of footage of. There was also an adorable kiss that was cruelly deleted from the musical episode too. Where is the justice in this world?

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Come to think of it, what about Kevin and Moose too? One of the most relatable moments watching Riverdale was the speech Kevin gave after Betty confronted him about cruising in the woods. He said:

‘You act like we’ve got the same set of options but we don’t. You live in this pale pink world of milkshakes and first kisses…except for when you’re exploring your BDSM sexuality which again, you’re allowed to do but I’m not because why? This is what I’ve got Betty, these woods so please don’t come here and tell me it’s disgusting’.

The shame that the LGBTQ community feel, that stops them from experiencing relationships in the same way that straight couples do was epitomised in that moment. As Kevin was banished to the dark woods, the metaphor stands strong; LGBTQ relationships are often pushed aside, deprived of the privileges straight people have.

And despite this awareness, so far on Riverdale LGBTQ relationships are mainly getting small amounts of airtime featuring extreme moments. Unlike Jughead climbing up a ladder to Betty’s room to have their first kiss, Toni had to break into a conversion therapy convent for her and Cheryl to have theirs.

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At 15 years old, I used to walk home from school alone in my black converse and MySpace eyeliner excited to watch ‘The L Word’ before my parents got home. I used to delete my internet browsing history (did they have incognito tabs back then?) and panic about them finding out.

Watching women in relationships (albeit terrible ones) on ‘The L Word’ was the permission I needed to start accepting my sexuality because none of my friends were gay. Growing up, I had no one to talk to about it. In fact, it was watching ‘Sugar Rush’ on Channel 4 in the UK that first made me realise I was gay. I’d known I was experiencing something different to my peers but it was the moment I saw Kim on screen struggling with accepting herself that made me silently cry in my bedroom alone at 14-years-old.

My friend went through something similar as an adult after ‘Call Me by Your Name’ was released, reading that book and watching that film helped him to feel empowered. I believe that the stories of LGBTQ people that get told on screen help the community find inner peace.

That’s why Choni is so exciting. Firstly, Toni represents an underserved part of the LGBTQ community as a black woman and whilst the homophobia Cheryl faced from her family was part of the storyline for a while, there was no homophobia from the couple’s peers.

And so, the more primetime LGBTQ relationships become, the more normalised they can be. They won’t become characterised as something perverse and disgusting that happens late in the woods at night or in a conversion therapy classroom. They are relationships that happen on sofas, in bedrooms, at school and at home just like Varchie and Bughead’s.

So, here’s hoping that Riverdale season 3 does more for Choni and for Kevin and Moose (Moovin?!) and to give them enough airtime to make their relationships more realistic.