The Bold Type is the perfect mold between FreeForm’s primary focus and that of its former identity, ABC Family. We get both FreeForm’s obsession with young, modelesque young adults while we get what ABC Family did best. Which is pushing the envelope, bring about diverse and intriguing stories, while also catering to that a teen audience without patronizing them.
In New York City, we meet three girls all in their mid to low 20s. We have Jane (Katie Stevens), a girl from the Midwest who has long dreamed to write for Scarlet. A magazine which, thanks to her mother’s death due to breast cancer, acted as a maternal, if not sisterly figure. Especially since, the way she talks about her upbringing, outside of Scarlet, all she had was her brothers and dad.
Alongside her is Kat (Aisha Dee). She was the first of the group to get promoted from being an assistant and pretty much is the most privileged one of the group. For with two parents who are in psychology and being an only child, she hasn’t really wanted for much. Also, unlike her two friends, it seems money hasn’t really been an issue in Kat’s life. If anything, the only issue Kat has ever really had to face was being in a relationship.
For work wise, while she does rub some people the wrong way, since she can be quite aggressive, she shows nepotism might be why she got a job, but not how she keeps it. But as for the main relationship in season 1, with a Muslim woman named Adena (Nikohl Boosheri), there is so much drama. First, since Kat has been hetero most of her life, she has to terms with her sexual identity. Which isn’t a hard thing to do. Then comes the more difficult thing: Trying to figure out how Adena feels and then trying to make things work. For if it isn’t Adena being an immigrant on a visa, it is Adena’s ex, or else Kat’s moments of indecision.
Lastly, there is Sutton (Meghann Fahy). Unlike the other girls, Sutton got to where she is tooth and nail. There isn’t any financial support back home, she didn’t grow up with any real safety net, and she is the one whose dreams or a career, isn’t coming to her rapidly. Yet, thanks to her friends, and her showing massive amounts of talent and initiative, she gets ahead. Work wise. Relationship wise, well there is a bit of drama with both Richard (Sam Page), her first boyfriend, and this guy Alex (Matt Ward) who likes her.
Oh, and one more person has to be noted: Jacqueline (Melora Hardin). She is the Editor in Chief of Scarlet magazine, where all the girls work, and between giving advice to being a full on mentor, she is a force on the show. To the point, it may be hard to not get jealous that she isn’t your boss.
Season 1 Episode List
Pilot – Episode 1
O Hell No – Episode 2
The Woman Behind the Clothes – Episode 3
If You Can’t Do It with Feeling – Episode 4
No Feminism in the Champagne Room – Episode 5
The Breast Issue – Episode 6
Three Girls In a Tub – Episode 7
The End of the Beginning – Episode 8
Before Tequila Sunrise – Episode 9
Carry The Weight – Episode 10 [Season Finale]
The Bold Type has been renewed for Season 2 & 3 with both having 10 episodes. Also, there will be a new showrunner.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- Did Kat quit her job, take a vacation, or is she working remotely as of the season finale?
- Will Jane and/or Sutton go back to their exes?
- Will someone replace Jane and take her place in the Kat and Sutton threesome?
- She’ll be in season 2 but you got to wonder if the person who takes Jane’s seat might get greeted.
Muslim characters, especially queer Muslim characters do not exist on TV. Well, maybe in some sort of action oriented show, but a show aimed at the young adult population? Much less with said character having a love interest, an established career, that isn’t being a terrorist, and we get to understand their faith and culture?! PSHH!
Which is why the fact Adena exists in this show is so important. She is an anomaly. She is someone who goes beyond FreeForm checking some diversity bingo card but gives us real, full blooded, representation. Especially in the form of her being written and performed as a real person. Meaning, she makes mistakes, doesn’t always have the answers, and isn’t perfect. One example being, as a Muslim, she doesn’t pray as regularly as she should. Which she kind of feels bad about but just like there are Christians who aren’t to the bible, well here is someone showing you not all Muslims follow the Quran to the T either.
But even when you take out the Muslim element, and even take out that she is an immigrant, and all that brings in the Trump era, Boosheri is a charming presence. One which arguably makes the fact showrunner Sarah Watson hasn’t made her a regular on the show infuriating! Since there is something about her which really makes you wish one of the main three girls cough Jane cough were instead reoccurring.
We live in a time where women of a certain age will only find quality roles on television. The problem is, damn near each one is given what some call “Messy” characters. The kind which, between infidelity and murder, have so much drama going on in their lives. To the point that, considering many are acting as mentors, in one way or another, it almost seems like their messiness is supposed to represent that they have lives too. That, despite their age, life is not boring or mundane – it still is exciting when you’re 40, 50, and etc.
Thankfully though, Jacqueline doesn’t fall into that pit of nonsense. Is her life a walk in the park? No. However, what Jacqueline, as a whole, represents the strength and knowledge the lead girls are learning now. She has gone toe to toe with owners and upper management, and has won a few battles and lost some. Jacqueline was raped yet found a way to not only keep that from ruining her career but the potential of having a personal life, a romantic life, as well as children.
Yet, as arguably put together and in control she seems, we are reminded that is not always true. Sometimes the board fights her on something and she loses. Her being raped sometime in her 20s, despite her seeming to have… what’s a good word. Despite her finding a way to manage the memory and its effect on her, she gets triggered by a young girl who went through it and it leads her to act out of character when Jane writes about it. But I would be remiss to not talk about her as a mentor to primarily Jane, but also to Kat and Sutton.
One of the reasons, as noted, Jane came to Scarlett is because it acted as a maternal or big sister figure. Jacqueline represents that. She helps you understand the culture of Scarlet as one which the boss is approachable and be it professional or personal problems, she is an open ear and heart. Within reason of course. Jane going off on her was a one-time thing. However, even though a bit offended, there is this pursuit of understanding that allows her to not take it personally in the long term. After all, what she is doing is pushing all her writers to become better. Which requires not just their fancy educations, but their heart. Making something so personal that they’ll put all their skills and effort into it. For it is their baby, rather than simply an assignment to keep their jobs.
Leading to me, often, wishing Jacqueline, like Adena, wasn’t a rare character. But with Watson noting, whenever the season 2 renewal is official, that we may peer a bit more into Jacqueline’s life, I know I’ll be happy. Especially as we get to really see how she crafts her victories or deals with being one of the few women in power in the board room (we see that a few times in the beginning, but then it tapers off).
One thing I never understood about damn near all the television shows I watch is: Where are the working class people? Everyone, from Disney Channel to network TV, Netflix, and cable, seem to be middle class or above. Where are the people like Sutton who feared pursuing their dream so they got a practical degree? How about the people from single parent homes where money is tight and the relationship isn’t lovey dovey? Where are the people like Sutton who find themselves stuck at the bottom and aren’t sure if they may ever get from under the heel of an oppressive and demanding supervisor? Those are the type surely a lot of millennials, the assumed demographic for this show, would relate to right?
Which makes me so joyous that, outside of Sutton’s romantic storyline, her life is filled with not just repping for the real underdogs, but presenting lessons. Such as, when you maybe can’t get the salary you want, negotiating for other things which would offset costs that said salary would have paid for. Also, taking initiative and showing that your sacrifices will mean something. Oh! Also, speaking up for yourself. Be it in terms of your goals or making sure others don’t steal your shine or take credit for your work.
I honestly felt like I learned something from Sutton.
The fact a Black woman is the rich and privileged character did not go over my head and it also tickled the hell out of me. Also the fact she got her job, fresh out of college, thanks to nepotism. However, that was quickly followed by her getting promoted first of her clique, showing she earned her spot, and really working her ass off every single episode. Even when she was having Adena drama.
Leading to perhaps what you have to love the most about Kat, as sure of herself as she mostly is, there is still indecision. She can come up with a party or social media campaign like it is nothing but, like most of the ladies, when it comes to her personal life? FAIL! But unlike Jane and Sutton, her partner isn’t some boring mannequin. Her partners really brings the idea that relationships, queer or otherwise, are work and complicated.
But, noting that queer thing, it was nice for some bisexual representation. Usually, it is either straight or gay but Kat presents herself as more fluid. She may usually prefer men, but Adena is a grand exemption.
Leaving one last thing: You gotta love Kat puts action behind her words. Rather than be like many who are social media activist, Kat will get into a fight, organize with others, and get dirty or nude if she has to. Of which sometimes, like when she got doxed, does lead to some unfortunate consequences, but like the ideal ally, while it may knock her down it does not knock her out of the fight.
The Business End
A lot of shows skip over the boring parts dealing with human resources, the people who manage the money saying yes or no, but The Bold Type touches on that. Be it when Kat has to fire someone or Jacqueline relating when the board is for or against something. These shadow figures help remind us that not everything is an obstacle the girls can overcome. Sometimes, they are just people working for a corporation that only values their creativity only to the point it becomes a financial liability.
Alex & The Men of The Bold Type
Usually, men on shows which focus on women are given the same treatment women on shows focused on men get. That is, they are ornamental. They are there to be attractive, look nice with no clothes on, while barely having enough personality to seem like more than current or potential love interest. Pretty much that is what damn near every man on The Bold Type is.
However, there was a time Alex seemed like an exception. He was the guy friend. One who, for both Jane early on, but primarily Sutton thereafter, was the one who gave pep talks and advice. Someone who really brought the idea that guys and girls could be friends, without an agenda, to life. But then he got this crush on Sutton that was a jumbled and sort of rushed mess. One which includes drunk sex.
The Lack of Diversity
As noted by Alaina Leary in “What Women In Publishing Really Think About ‘The Bold Type,’” as much as you have to enjoy many of the things this show does well, you have to also to critique the trends it doesn’t push back on at all. Take for instance the show adheres to FreeForm’s usual guidelines of only really having conventionally attractive people. All who can fit into designer clothes, and have them, no matter what their economic status.
Leary goes a bit deeper than my usual fluff goes, so you should definitely check her, or would it be more appropriate to say their, article out.
On The Fence
If I was to be completely honest, because I’m familiar with Katie Stevens from Faking It, and am still trying to get past that character, I struggled a bit to get into Jane’s. Though what doesn’t help is while it is clear why Kat’s career at Scarlet was speedy, when it comes to Jane, it is a bit more difficult to get into her character. Almost to the point, you wish we were introduced to these girls when they were all assistants. So, at least then, Jane wouldn’t seem like her life got sped up to keep up with Sutton and Kat.
For while this isn’t Stevens’ show, I’d argue there is enough attention paid to Jane where it makes it seem they are slightly pushing for her to be the lead. Which I don’t just say since she is in the middle of most of the promotion and scenes you see her in. Like, physically Kat is usually on one side and Sutton the other. If not her standing off separated to stand out. Just do a Google image search. Even color and style wise, while Kat and Sutton’s sort of blend together, Jane’s will have a pop.
And I say all this mostly because, getting back to my point, with Sutton we see someone who is working hard to get to where she wants to be. And on that journey, we see a lot of trouble and obstacles which aren’t solved episodically. Then with Kat, again, you can understand why her career, between nepotism and talent, was fast tracked. However, if Jane is supposed to be in the middle, it never feels that way. While things aren’t necessarily handed to her, it is like Jacqueline favors her, as does fate, in such a way that it makes her one of the few characters on this show who seems truly fictional.
Overall: Positive (Recommended)
When it comes to FreeForm, I have a policy where I’ll try any of their dramas and give them a shot. For when it comes to shows which focus on those 16-24, maybe up to 26, only FreeForm truly tries to do the age group justice. Netflix is on their heels, but still, has ways to go. However, with The Bold Type, FreeForm finally makes it seem that they haven’t lost the spirit of ABC Family. Which, for me, was pushing boundaries and showing a different side to youth. That is, addressing topical issues, showing demographics rarely presented like the deaf, lesbian families, those who are or were in the foster system, and a lot of what we see in The Bold Type.
Hence why this is not only being labeled positive but Recommended. The Bold Type has a lot of things you’d think would have been seen on television already. Yet, for some reason, it is one of the few, or maybe most prominent, doing a lot of things other shows, and networks, don’t represent.