Why Is ‘Riverdale’ Suddenly Over-sexualized?

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

As I’m watching season three of Riverdale, I keep noticing one recurring theme: skin.

No, really. While comparing the new episodes to the first two seasons, I was shocked to see The CW added two new breakout stars: Veronica’s chest and Archie’s abs. (Not that I’m complaining about the latter.)

Of course, I have faith that Betty will always rock a modest outfit (read: collared shirt and a sweater), but season three is over-sexualizing almost every character (cough, “Jailhouse Rock” music video, cough), and here’s proof.

archie abs riverdale season 3
Katie Yu/The CW

In the season three premiere, titled “Labor Day,” Archie (KJ Apa) gets a break from his murder trial, so he, Jughead (Cole Sprouse), Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Veronica (Camila Mendes) do what they do every season and head to the Sweetwater watering hole.

But this time, they ironically forget their swimsuits. So, naturally, they strip down to their underwear (girls included) and jump in.

To top it off, there are several close-ups of Archie’s perfectly lit abs, and I can’t help but wonder if he took off his shirt for the audition.

archie tattoo riverdale season 3
Dean Buscher/The CW

Up next? Season three, episode two. With Archie in juvie, the amount of abs, tight tank tops and tattoo close-ups have dramatically increased.

And since when do characters on the show walk around shirtless à la Mad Dog (Eli Goree)?

archie jail riverdale season 3
Dean Buscher/The CW

So why the ab-fest? One guess is that The CW is really trying to emphasize the fact that Archie is turning into a bad boy. As if juvie wasn’t enough to seal the deal, the costume department is taking full advantage of Archie’s newly chiseled bod.

veronica riverdale speakeasy dress
Robert Falconer/The CW

When it comes to the Riverdale ladies, their necklines are getting lower and lower by the episode. However, this all boils down to one likely hypothesis: sex sells, and The CW is clearly trying hard to keep selling their show. And can fans really be offended? These are 20-something actors playing high school students, so it’s not exactly realistic to begin with.

So, what do these abs and cleavage mean for the future of the show? It seems clear that we are in store for a whole lot more skin. But as long as the show continues to provide fans with solid plot lines and interesting characters, it might just steer clear of jumping the shark.

And in defense of more skin, I’m far more likely to purchase Veronica’s speakeasy dress than her go-to pearls.

Riverdale airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.


Senior Editor

Greta Heggeness is a California-based editor at PureWow and has been writing about entertainment since 2015. She covers everything from awards shows to exclusive celebrity...