The Bold Type was this summer’s breakout hit and I will fight anyone who disagrees with me. Just kidding, I’m the last person to let myself get caught up in a fight, but that doesn’t mean I don’t stand whole-heartedly behind the sentiment that this show is one that begs to be seen. I’m not prepared to back that up with ratings data or a highlight reel of past summer hits, but instead with the feeling that the series evokes in its viewers: One of sincerity, positivity, and possibility.
We meet our heroines Jane Sloan (Katie Stevens), Kat Edison (Aisha Dee), and Sutton Brady (Meghann Fahy) in the midst of their careers at women’s magazine, Scarlet (a fictional Cosmo). The girls have come up through the ranks of assistantship together and have forged diverse paths at the same publication. They’re models of the kind of young women I crave to see on television but rarely do: they’re progressive and determined, but also aren’t afraid to get a little lost in the overwhelming tides of love and career. They’re in no way perfect, but instead striving for some level of success that seems reachable (but also vastly different for each of them). I will be absolutely devastated if I don’t get to see their faces and tight female friendship back on my television screen next year. So do your part and catch up on this wonderful series. You’ll be shouting about it from the rooftops in no time.
Still need some more convincing to check it out? Let’s break down why you should.
Strong (and positive) female friendships
When we spoke to creator and showrunner Sarah Watson back in June, we asked about her conscious take on displaying positive female friendships. She told us that these were characters that she’s been dying to see on TV – “I wanted to see my friendships on TV. My female friends are not backstabby. They’re not mean. We empower each other, we lift each other up, we call each other in a crisis. So that is what I wanted in these characters.” And it’s exactly what she achieved. Jane, Sutton, and Kat are not without disagreements, but they are always behind each other 100% and make all friendship-related decisions from a place of love and understanding (even when it requires them to take a step back from their own personal biases). This season brought us iconic moments that cemented our understanding of what it means to always be there for your friends (even if it means cramming three people in a bathtub). These relationships are ones that I strongly related to throughout the season and they ultimately feel universal in both their reach and heartwarming effect.
The relationships between characters on The Bold Type are as diverse as they are strong. Namely, the fact that the most prominent romantic storyline is that of Kat and Adena, which takes on differences in culture (Adena is Muslim) as well as a sort of coming out story for Kat, who is realizing for the first time that she has romantic feelings for a woman (and that it’s about more than sex). Furthermore, Jane writes stories about interesting and diverse females for the magazine, including a woman who quit her job on Wall Street and embraced her sexuality as a stripper, and a young rape survivor who holds weights in the park as a piece of performance art that is meant to show the weight that burdens sexual assault survivors. Just as our characters band together to make the important stories of diverse females known to the readers of their fictional magazine, The Bold Type introduces us as viewers to ways of life that are different than our own. And we get to experience these through the unique perspectives that each member of our leading trio brings to the table.
With diversity comes controversy, and The Bold Type in no way shies away from it. From the immigration ban to sexual assault, these important episodes have embraced relevant issues to our world right now, and more importantly have shown how reaction is just as important as resistance. In the pilot episode, Kat goes into a tailspin when Adena is held at customs for trying to enter her home country with sex toys (a banned item). Her initial response (as a social media guru of sorts) is to take to Twitter with the hashtag #FreeAdena – but with a little guidance from her boss, she is able to be conscious of the fact that her initial reaction might not be the best solution, and that sometimes the best way to fight back is to not race to react.
Similarly, in the season finale, Jane finds herself being assigned a story that she’s been dying to write – one about a sexual assault survivor. Jacqueline keeps a close eye on her and is constant in her reminders not to rush the process, and to take the time to dig deeper into the story. And when she does make that connection with her subject, ultimately by standing beside her in support, the reason behind Jacqueline’s worry is revealed in the most impactful of ways.
A sense of hope
With everything going on in our world it’s nice to have a break from the dread that comes with constantly waking up to a new tragedy. While The Bold Type does tackle important issues (see above), the show does so in a way that is optimistic. We get the opportunity to see others living in the same world and taking steps to change it for the better. To make it the kind of place that is welcoming to everyone. And the importance of that cannot be stressed enough. Additionally, it’s nice to get caught up in the lives of these characters and the sometimes-frivolous lifestyle of working at a women’s magazine. They wear amazing clothes (that they snag from the fashion closet), make unicorn dream-tinis when they’re feeling stressed, and always have another big event to look forward to while spending their days in a bustling glossy office. It’s not all sunshine, rainbows, and Louboutins, but it certainly provides a little piece of fantasy amidst a hectic week.
A push out of your comfort zone
TV is often characterized by the general public as being a mind melting experience. It’s considered low-brow and escapist, especially when it appears on a network like Freeform. And while I in no way subscribe to this belief, I can confidently say that The Bold Type uses the storylines of its characters to motivate viewers to fight for what they want. Whether that’s a promotion at work or a difficult conversation with a significant other, the show visualizes getting what you want as the result of leaping out of your comfort zone. It’s only through difficult decisions, hard work, and pushing back against naysayers that the women of The Bold Type become empowered and stay on a path to reach their goals. Their stories teach us that there are pros and cons to every decision, but ultimately there is no ‘right’ way to go about life. You get to choose your own path. And that is the ultimate empowerment.
All images courtesy of Freeform