So, this episode sees a lot of the cast, quite literally – Veronica topless at the start, a pretty superfluous scene where Cheryl and Josie have just got out of a shower (one of their only two scenes in the episode), and even managed to contrive a pole dancing sequence where Betty strips down.
They keep name-checking ideas like misogyny and sexism – Cheryl calls out the male gaze while clearly subject of it – but that doesn’t really account for much when you’ve got these over the top sequences for no particular reason at all.
This one, actually, I very nearly span off into its own article: “Just because Riverdale mentions the male gaze, doesn’t mean it’s free from it.” Or something like that. I never did, in the end, because… well, a couple of different reasons, I guess. In part because I’m generally less confident in my knowledge of camera techniques and stuff, so I didn’t want to go immediately into a big polemic about something I didn’t quite understand; thing is, though, the shelf life on articles about any one episode of Riverdale is short, so the content cycle moved on quickly.
Anyway, this episode contained the most egregious examples of Riverdale finding reasons to get the cast to take their clothes off, which was made all the more ironic by the fact that this was the one that actually namechecked the male gaze! Totes, as the kids would say, ridic. (That’s not “as the kids say”, kids don’t say totes ridic anymore, but I say it constantly.)
So, yeah, I think there’s a bit of criticism to be issued there. I wouldn’t be surprised, perhaps, if that male gaze comment was an attempt to lampshade things, or someone critiquing the rest of the episode from within it. Thankfully, Riverdale toned things down a bit going forward – as above, this episode (and the one immediately prior, if I recall correctly) was the most egregious example of such. But if ever it comes up again, I’ll be sure to revive this article. In the meantime, I’ll go and read about the male gaze and the female gaze and such.
(This is still a five questions we have after piece, incidentally; other questions include speculation about FP Jones, the Black Hood, and whether or not Veronica is pregnant, because there was a weird line of dialogue that seemed to imply it, and honestly you know the show is gonna have a pregnancy plotline by the end of season 3 anyway.)