Cheryl Blossom/Toni Topaz

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Pairing
Pairing: Cheryl Blossom/Toni Topaz
Alternative name(s): Choni, Red Serpent
Gender category: Femslash, F/F
Fandom: Riverdale
Canonical?: Yes
Prevalence: Popular
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Cheryl/Toni is a femslash pairing of Cheryl Blossom and Toni Topaz in the Riverdale fandom. They have a canonical relationship.

Canon

Cheryl and Toni started on bad terms thanks to the rivalry behind their different high schools, Toni's connection to the Southside Serpents and Cheryl being part of the Blossom family. However as they continued to spend time together Cheryl opened up to Toni and eventually came out to her.

Fandom

After Cheryl and Toni met at the Ghoulies vs. Serpents drag race they quickly gained the pairing name "Red Serpent" however "Choni" became a more popular portmanteau for them over the second season.

In 2018, Choni ranked 13th on Tumblr's Top 100 ships of 2018[1]

Controversy & Opposition

Some object to how Choni is written and how Toni, as one of the show's main black characters, is treated, and dislike it in the context of the show's history of racism and misrepresentation of people of color and LGBT people.

According to this view, Toni is introduced, as a strong, smart, and capable girl who fights against injustice. Cheryl has thus far been depicted as a rich, privileged bully. Toni chooses to be with a clearly mentally unstable Cheryl at the same time that she learns Cheryl was harassing Josie. Furthermore, after becoming Cheryl's girlfriend Toni's character is flattened into a sidekick to Cheryl. Some consider Cheryl's treatment of Toni verbally abusive, and disagree with the framing of the relationship as a triumph of LGBTQ+ representation. Cheryl's behavior is not framed as abusive of negative within the show and Cheryl never grows or learns from her actions, nor sufferers any consequences. Despite suffering emotional abuse herself from her parents, she remains cruel and harasses people, while during her brief break-up with Toni, and the period leading up to it, exhibiting classic abuser behaviour, trying to cut Toni off from everyone else in Toni's life and being physically and emotionally abusive by pushing Toni and demeaning her in public at school.

I am so pissed off about Riverdale. I used to only watch it because i loved Toni so much but since shes gotten with Cheryl not only has she been pushed to the back in that relationship where Cheryl now apparently speaks for her but now she has forgotten her ideals and values of being a serpent???? like this is terrible writing. Toni would never steal expensive shit and not share it with the other serpents who are her family????? Also Cheryl’s privileged ass can fuck off why is she even a serpent??? She literally does not care about the others???like who even is she tho. I don’t even care about anything else a part from Toni’s character development and this storyline of stealing for herself and Cheryl’s benefit makes absolutely no sense.[2]
I haven’t liked “Choni” from the get go.. Toni went from opinionated and independent, caring about her serpents and the south side… To the almost mute arm candy to a spoiled brat.. I think I watched an entire episode where Toni was in like 6 scenes and all she did was hold cheryl’s arm and smile… And kiss her… Cheryl took over her serpent stuff.. Toni stopped taking pictures.. It was always problematic for me.. As was the show never really addressing the fact that Cheryl was obsessed with and stalking the other main black female on this show… And framed the one black guy for it… And all of that was before this season with the doll and the body and the murder.. Why are ppl out here defending a relationship where one party has given up her whole personality.. Rarely interacts with anyone besides nana rose… Acts as either arm candy or emotional support animal… And has now committed murder… At least varchie and bughead are relatively equal relationships… This one not so much.. I don’t call Cheryl mentally Ill… To me she’s just selfish.. And that’s why Toni needs to leave[3]
The thing is… I don’t think the writers are deliberate writing an abusive storyline and that’s what is dangerous about this Jason plot. They aren’t doing it on purpose, so they have little to no reason to remedy the damage they’re causing here.

Representation for lgbt couples still isn’t at a high standard on TV, and people have come to just accept mediocre rep because that’s all that is available. This show gets awards for this ship, and yet they’ve slowly written this toxic couple just because they enjoy Cheryl being this power force who gets what she wants and can do whatever she likes. They like her being sassy, they like her being a little unstable. And in keeping her that way they’re sacrificing their only lgbt couple by turning it into an abuse storyline that isn’t actually an abuse storyline. So many people have strong feelings about this ship, so many people love it. Whether that is you or not, you have to see how bad these decisions are.

Last season you had Cheryl literally using her money to keep Toni in line. She mentioned the fact that Toni’s new friends won’t want to spend time with her if Cheryl stopped giving them money. That is an emotionally abusive response. You could have written that off as Cheryl feeling insecure and if it stopped there then that would have been a suffice excuse for writing that.

But it doesn’t really stop with that does it?

Toni had a family, she had friends. The serpents had been with her for her entire life. They were apart of her existence. And who took her away from that? Her girlfriend. She couldn’t swallow her pride and admit she was wrong, so she sabotaged Toni’s connection with her literal ancestors, she deserved to stay in that gang but she was isolated from all of her friends. Which is another abusive trait.

And as a lopaz shipper I loved the lopaz duet scene, but I know it wasn’t some romantic event. It was Toni actually having fun with her friend, after feeling so isolated at home. Cheryl made it so Toni only had her, and Toni felt so trapped. She was having fun and having to lie about it in order to keep Cheryl from stopping that. And Cheryl got jealous of her having fun and having friends, as if Toni isn’t allowed to be around anyone else other than her and enjoy it?

And when Toni talked to her like an adult and was up front about her feelings, she was treated as though she was the one hurting them and to blame. Toni can’t even express the fact that she needs her own space and to be herself without her girlfriend being attached to her 24/7 without it turning her into a villain.

I understand Cheryl has a lot of abandonment issues after Jason died, and her parents are the worst. But there are ways to write that in without crossing some of these dangerous lines that keep getting crossed.

The biggest red flag is in a recent episode where Toni feels uncomfortable and literally begged Cheryl to get rid of Jason at several points in the episode she expressed how uncomfortable she felt. This is her home too. This is somewhere Toni is supposed to feel safe and comfortable, but there’s a literal dead body sitting at their table and she is not at all comfortable or safe being in that situation. And what does Cheryl do? She tries to make Toni think she is going insane. Gaslighting was literally said by her own mouth, which is a major red flag.

If any of the other ships were doing this to one another you know they’d get called out for it instantly. (Moose was hated on for not wanting to come out as if that’s a huge crime…) But because this is the only constant lgbt rep, we let it slide and we let the writers keep doing this and ruining characters.

Why are the writers choosing to portray the only lgbt ship they bother giving attention to, in such a ****ed up way? Young people watch this show, young lgbt people watch this and if it’s not being written with the purpose of showing the dangers of an abusive relationship, then why use these situations at all? Why write a couple this way when the show clearly sees them as an “otp” it’s just not right.

They can excuse all of this with mental health issues or “that’s riverdale everything is whacky in riverdale!1!1” but when it translates to the real world, the message it is sending is just really disappointing.

When you write characters this way and don’t even realise what message it’s sending, it’s dangerous.

Lgbt couples experience abuse too, and if tv shows it as normal and not outlining how this treatment is wrong, don’t you think some young impressionable mind will enter relationships throughout their lives and not notice warning signs because on tv it was romantic and an ~endgame~ relationship.[4]

Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Fanart

Fanfiction

Fanvids

Archives & Fannish Links

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References

  1. 2018’s Top Ships
  2. flashtastic tumblr
  3. Uno says: November 30, 2019 at 7:33 PM
  4. Ben says: December 1, 2019 at 1:18 AM