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‘Riverdale’s’ Sexual Assault Storyline Offers Empowerment for Women

Please do not read this article if you have not yet watched the most recent episode of Riverdale. Spoilers ahead.

The CW’s Riverdale is a highly controversial TV show, considering the fact that it has done so many things wrong. There’s even an entire article about how problematic it is. This season has not been very impressive thus far apart from nostalgic diner moments, per usual, Archie’s lack of sanity — his involvement in the so-called “Red Circle” — and the introducing of the bisexual Toni, so last night’s episode was really important.

Chapter Eighteen: “When a Stranger Calls” introduces a new character — Veronica’s ex Nick St. Clair. Right from the start, viewers get an uneasy feeling about him, despite the nice-guy front that he puts on. As the episode progresses, his disturbing lack of respect for women begins to become apparent, specifically when he becomes too comfortable with Veronica, even after she has pushed him away several times.

Ronnie slaps him in the face and proceeds to walk out of the room, after she has had enough, and this issue apparently subsides the next day when Nick apologizes to V by placing the blame on some rehab sob-story.

Viewers hope he won’t strike again, but as is understood by the recent flood of accusations in the news about Harvey Weinstein, among others, sexual assault is usually not a one-time offense, unfortunately. Nick is not an exception to that.

Later on in the episode, the Pussycats perform at Hiram Lodge’s gala, and it is then — during the performance — that Veronica and Josie catch a glimpse from the stage of Nick leading a drugged and stumbling Cheryl away from the event and toward the hotel.


Nick lays her on a bed in his hotel room, nearly unconscious, and begins taking off his jacket. She is practically lifeless — unaware and unable to understand what is going on.

The Pussycats run after them and proceed to find the room where Nick and Cheryl are. After breaking in, Veronica punches Nick in the face, and the rest of the Pussycats take their punches and kicks, leaving him lying on the floor unconscious. Josie rushes to aid Cheryl.

It all happens so quick.

The storyline between Nick and Cheryl is one prevalent in Hollywood more and more every day, and its significance to those who have been assaulted in real-life is crucial — the way that it was handled by the Pussycats is just what Riverdale needed.

While the angsty teen show has done so much wrong since it began, Cheryl being saved by her female peers reminded viewers and fans that women don’t need men to come to their rescue. The age-old conversation that people still do not quite understand.

This example of women helping women sheds radiant beams of light, and it is empowering. Riverdale could have dealt with this serious, real-life issue of sexual assault in the completely wrong way, considering how touchy a subject it is, but allowing the Pussycats to save Cheryl is what caused everything to go right.

The Riverdale poster boy Archie Andrews could have just as easily been the one to come to Cheryl’s rescue. That said, the scene following Nick’s punishment for being a predator offers a visibly angry Archie, eager to find out where Nick is so that he can be put in his place.

The conversation is immediately turned on its head when Cheryl offers her response to Archie’s comment: “You can put your cape away. The Pussycats already saved me.”

That is beautiful. The girls saved the day, and they did it in style, nonetheless, which is why this moment was quite possibly the only one thus far of substance, and even more so, empowerment. Here’s to hoping there is more of this to come in season two of Riverdale.

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Eden Bunna
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passionate about writing and spreading love. attending Columbia College in Chicago. growing daily.

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