As a 25-year-old Black dude, meaning I’m Sutton’s age, who watches shows of which I’m probably not the aimed for demographic, it can be weird. Only because sometimes folks don’t get it. Why would someone your age watch Andi Mack or even something like The Bold Type? Well, it is because we live in an age where yes, a show may be aimed at tweens, teens, women, or certain demographics. However, between the writers and actors, they expand on what can be considered a woman’s issue, a teen issue, a Black issue, or what have you, and show how it is really universal. Just with different flavors or spices to make it unique and identifiable for one population. All the while, not alienating the general populace.
Sort of like eating food from a different culture. You don’t have to be Italian, Indian, or Ethiopian to enjoy their food. But there are certain things, unless you were raised in that culture, you may not understand the significance behind fully.
As for what brought all this up? Honestly, it is the power of the show, of which we go into episode 3 “The Woman Behind the Clothes” below.
Taking Initiative: Sutton
Oliver (Stephen Conrad Moore), the head of the fashion department, just lost his assistant, per Alex. With that, while it may not be a stylist gig, it is within the department Sutton wants. So, she takes the initiative to win over Oliver and works her network. Richard gives her some insight and excellent boyfriend support, and then there is Lauren.
As you can imagine, Lauren isn’t really hyped about possibly losing her assistant at first. Especially since Sutton decides to pull double duty and make Lauren’s work secondary. However, she paid her dues, was loyal for three years, and as stern as Lauren can be, she is like Jacqueline. She will push you to your limits so that you can see the line isn’t as close as you thought. And, at this point, she has given Sutton all the tools she needs so, like with the Ad Sales position, she is ready to put in the work to get Sutton what she deserves.
Before we talk about Sutton, I have to say I remain in a very weird place with Alex. Not in terms of who he may or may not date anymore, but now I just really want us to get the chance to know him. He is consistently there for moral support, giving Sutton some insight, giving Jane insight on Ryan, but what is his business? What does he do when he isn’t at Scarlet or trying to be a Lauren or Jacqueline in the making? In terms of helping these girls reach their goals?
Alex aside, Sutton is so inspiring. I mean, can we gush? For, as noted in the intro, I’m the same age and I can so relate to being happy you are getting a paycheck but knowing that the job you have isn’t it. That is, despite being good at it and people, at times, singing your praises. So while I’m not into fashion and of course with Sutton being a woman there are other factors involved, you truly get that universal struggle vibe that I mentioned in the last episode.
But, despite no real fallback, she took a chance. One which could have gotten her fired because she was starting to slack with Lauren and while Lauren isn’t a villain, she is presented as an obstacle. For, in the best shows, that is what people are.
They aren’t some evil villain who tries to ruin someone’s life. No. They are like Lauren. People who are trying to do their job and may not be like Jacqueline who is all open, ready to be a mentor and all that. Their goal is simply using the resources, which would include Sutton, and knowledge they have to put out something they’d be willing to put their name on.
But, getting back to the point, the fact Sutton took on Lauren and Oliver’s work, was seemingly thriving, and impressing people, I thought was inspiring. For, again, out of all the characters on here, I’d argue Sutton is the most true to life, you can find someone like them randomly on the street, person on the show. Hell, maybe on the whole network.
Type with Kindness: Kat, Jacqueline
Something we see this episode is Kat having a breakdown. The kind which highlights why Jacqueline’s role on this show is so important. For, long story short, Kat had this big idea about getting the magazine a VR app. She sees it as the future and so she is scheduled to pitch it to the board.
Problem is, the vendor she was working with, their VR machines are apparently made for men more so than women[note]That didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I went with it.[/note]. So, being that Kat has no problems with confrontation, she tweets out:
Which leads to massive backlash. I’m talking death and rape threats. All of which Kat plays off until they are leaking a topless picture she took in France, leaking her home address and it is just too much. So, Jacqueline sits her down and shows some understanding. This helps. Kat also reaches out to Adena but, sadly, she wasn’t available [note]She does mention she needs to talk to Kat so there is something to look forward to in the next episode.[/note], and then she reaches out to Emily Ramos (Arlen Aguauo-Stewart). Someone who is the head of her own VR tech company and they combine forces to not just create a hashtag but also for Kat’s pitch.
Again, focusing on a non-lead and then transitioning to them, I really love Jacqueline. Mostly because, she is written like a Viola Davis on How To Get Away With Murder or Kerry Washington on Scandal. She is a professional, clearly one of the best at what she does, but we don’t get to see her be messy. Instead, the focus is on what she can give the people she is mentoring or who you can tell are observing her by example.
For, like said, Alex’s traits and Lauren you can see some aspect of Jacqueline. Alex in the form of the way he invests in the girls without seeming like he has some ulterior motive. All he seemingly wants is the best. Then with Lauren, as stern as she may seem, it seems she too is like, “Tell me what you want to do and I’ll guide you on the best way I know how to get it successfully.”
All of which I attribute to Melora Hardin’s presence. For she walks into a scene and even if she isn’t necessarily with some eye catching attire, you find yourself squarely focusing on her. Almost like you’re Sutton, Jane, or Kat. You want to observe and model after her. For while there is this sense her life hasn’t been all peaches and cream, she made it. She has this secret that she tells freely but which seems so unbelievable you think “She must be holding something back.”
Now, switching to Kat, I loved the fact we now know her breaking point. For there was something just a little too perfect about Kat. Between her financial status, personal life, and work life, everything was too in align and she seemed rather flawless. Granted, she may not have Adena, but this show is clearly not about that “She has everything but her one true love” nonsense.
So to see that as strong as she is, she is still capable of being overwhelmed was important. It was unfortunate it was through leaked pictures and addresses, but through that the show also exposes something. For while Kat’s attempt to clap back only added fuel to the fire, her original statement was not something which deserved rape and death threats. It was just a simple plea that “Hey when making this new tech, don’t design it so it works perfectly fine for guys but makes women vomit.”
Speaking perhaps on the larger topic of how, when women speak up and just ask for consideration from men, they go to a dark place about it. There isn’t a simple, “Will do” or even something cheeky like “wink we’ll add it to the next update.” Instead, it is treated as a personal attack for reasons, even as a dude, I cannot fathom. Like, a part of me could understand a rude reply like “Well, you could always try programming yourself” for then it is like they don’t know why it does stuff like this to women, it is frustrating, and they are just trying. But to go all in just perplexes me. Especially off of a simple statement.
The Issues with Preconceived Notions: Jane, Ryan
After Jane’s spontaneous kiss, Ryan is interested. They even hang out at his apartment and drink a little bit. However, after a certain point, Jane questions if Ryan maybe just using her for a story. Which ultimately isn’t true, but it shows perhaps some trust issues Jane may have.
But the real focus of her story is her trying to not become pigeonholed as a writer. Her last piece did well and so, as with most jobs in entertainment, it is expected of her to keep producing what made her a hit. Thing is, Jane wants to write about sex, life, and also politics. Especially one politician in particular named Helen Wolfe (Linda E. Smith). Jane sees her as the next Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris, but Scarlet doesn’t get the kind of respect needed to get a one on one. That is until Jane pretends she just wants to talk fashion but really wants to know why someone so pro-women can be so anti-environment. A gotcha question she tries to slip in but gets abruptly shut down on.
Yet, through her fashion comments, she realizes that Congresswoman Wolfe learned from the Hillary debates and has learned to smokescreen. Whenever she votes on something which would get her criticized, she wears a hideously ridiculous outfit. That way, that becomes the story. Jane figures this out, gives it to Jacqueline, and on the website it goes.
The beauty of Jane’s story is that it essentially is the next journey after someone achieves what they want. It is a mix between maybe feeling like a fraud, like you talked your way into a dream job, alongside this constant need to prove yourself. Something which causes so much anxiety because you really want this thing, but are constantly under the impression that nothing you produce is good enough and one day you may get found out.
But, thankfully, between Jacqueline and Jane’s clear skills, you see she is good at what she does. Yet, she maintains this sense of anxiety which is relatable. A word I know I’m probably overusing at this point, but that’s only because FreeForm has presented so many characters who just seemed part of someone’s fantasy that to see characters like this rooted in reality is so pleasing to me. After all, no other network is really trying to feature people, especially young women, Sutton, Kat and Jane’s age. Not as supporting characters mind you, but the lead. So, with that being so firmly part of the brand [note]On second thought, CW kind of does that but they are so stigmatized that they probably aren’t given a real chance to present something like this and be taken seriously. Though with that said, outside of Jane the Virgin, I’m very meh about the rest of their programming. [/note] they need shows like this.
As for the Ryan situation? I’ve lost interest. A part of me thinks it is because of the precedent Richard set, or maybe the chemistry Alex has with everyone. Though it could just be that, even with him perhaps being an interesting writer, he seems like a bore. One which can only duel drama for Jane’s life. But, maybe, at best, may explain why her ex broke up with her like he did. Maybe helping us understand if it was just him, where their relationship was at, or maybe there is something about Jane.
You need to catch your breath, take an hour, fall apart, come back.