It’s always been impressive how Riverdale has been able to balance its large cast of characters. Though Archie is arguably the main character, the show still very much feels like an ensemble and no one feels more important than the others, with one notable exception. Since Riverdale began there’s been a huge blindspot with the series regulars. From the pilot, Ashleigh Murray, who plays Josie, has been a series regular but she’s rarely, if ever, given her due in screentime, and that needs to change.
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The Lead Singer in the Back
The episode “Tales from the Darkside” was a step in the right direction for Riverdale and Josie. This is not because Josie had a particularly good time in the episode. In fact, in a very dark installment of Riverdale Josie’s story might have been the most horrifying but she was at least treated as important as the rest of the cast. Josie wasn’t third or even fourth fiddle, being relegated to the background and given one line out of a musical performance. Josie was completely front and center.
With Josie leading her own story, Riverdale was able to prove something that’s been evident, but unconfirmed, for a while. There’s more than enough story material and range with Josie that she should be much more involved than she has been previously on Riverdale. Josie is a star and not just because of her ability to sing.
It’s understandable why Josie has been downplayed so far, especially in season 2. Josie’s goal to become the next teenager superstar does feel like it come from a very different show. It doesn’t fit with the murder mystery and serial killer narratives. Still, in “Tales from the Darkside” a ton of elements were introduced that suggested Josie isn’t so far from that dark world. In fact, Josie might be the centerpiece of a much more intriguing conflict than the identity of the Black Hood and his (attempted) murder spree.
Josie and the Secret Scarlet Stalker
The idea that came up in “Tales from the Darkside” that Cheryl Blossom is literally insane and obsessed with Josie is a risky one but it’s also riverting. Cheryl’s disturbed mental state has loomed over Riverdale for quite some time, being pushed to the background for the Black Hood scare. Now that it’s resurfaced and it’s focused on Josie, Riverdale can not only pick up on this interesting story thread but use a character who has been pushed the sidelines so far, Josie, to do it.
The fascinating thing about Cheryl’s possible obsession is that it’s not insanity for the sake of melodrama. Riverdale has done an excellent job of making Cheryl, if not sympathetic, at least empathetic. It’s been explored in a completely understandable way why Cheryl is emotionally and mentally disturbed. It’s something that’s never been shied away from or ignored. Even this wrinkle of Josie obsession doesn’t come out of left field. Cheryl has always been friends with Josie, she could see Josie as having a life that she wants for herself and Josie did save her from being raped earlier this season.
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While there’s a danger that this new storyline could make Josie into even more of a supporting character, turning her into a victim, that doesn’t seem likely. The Cheryl reveal was the big twist of Josie’s storyline in “Tales from the Darkside” but there were several other story elements that were introduced that Riverdale could easily expand upon with Josie that would fit into the larger narrative of the season.
Josie has a budding romance with Chuck and her relationship with her mother to explore, both of which could be incorporated into the larger season storyline without too much trouble. This is especially true of Josie’s relationship with Mayor McCoy as it has also been revealed that Sheriff Keller and the Mayor are having an affair. If Josie becomes Kevin’s “stepsister” than Riverdale really has no excuse to not bring her more into the central gang.
If nothing else, Riverdale should expand on this notion that Mayor McCoy and Josie are getting racist hate mail. Otherwise the moment when McCoy confessed that in “Tales of the Darkside” will become nothing more than shock value, which is not how a serious issue such as bigotry should be dealt with on Riverdale or any show.
Before Josie got her featured time in “Tales from the Darkside,” the fact that she was in the background could’ve been brushed away with an explanation of Riverdale not finding a storyline for her yet. Now though there’s no excuse. Josie is just as interesting and has just as much going on as Archie, Jughead or Veronica. The only thing Riverdale has left to do is continue showing the audience that and not keep their head pussycat caged up.
Do you agree? Do you want to see more from Josie? Do you think we will see more of her as season 2 progresses? What storyline did you find most interesting with Josie?
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(Image courtesy of The CW)