When I first saw the trailer for The Bold Type, I could not contain the socket-spraining eyeroll. For the post-The Sex And The City and The Devil Wears Prada generation, television shows and movies about chic twenty-somethings who move the The Big Apple in search of fabulousness and love at a fashion magazine are about as common as its Tuesday airdate and just as realistic as an airbrushed photo of a supermodel.
I braced myself for faux feminism, the lone minority (Sweet/Vicious' Aisha Dee) to have scraps of a storyline, and lots of pseudo-glam outfits.
And I have never been more happy to be wrong about everything, including the fashion. Freeform's The Bold Type is the splashy summer show that lives up to its titular promise by pairing painfully relatable drama with the provocative shot of real female empowerment.
Thrillingly, Dee's Kat is far from a token casting, but an equal player in a diverse cast of women, men and sexualities. As the Director of Social Media at the show's fictional magazine, Scarlet (based by the goings-on of the real-life Cosmopolitan), Kat is the highest achieving member of the core three. She's also intelligent, ballsy and discovering new facets of her sexuality as she falls for a Muslim artist, Adena, who happens to be in a committed relationship.
Kat's coming-out storyline isn't a cliched "I'm so ashamed" closet exodus that so many shows have rehashed (only to chicken out when it comes time to actually give their character a love interest). Instead, it's a complicated, emotional journey of a woman who has fallen in love with another person, and is--sorry, not sorry--bold enough to follow her heart no matter where it leads her. The #Kadena ships set sail before the closing credits rolled on the pilot.
Her friend, Jane Sloan, is a Type-A control-freak who just got her dream job of being a Scarlet staff writer. Jane (Katie Stevens) is politically savvy and a great writer but understandably nervous to be as unflinchingly candid as the magazine requires. Her ambition, however, is stronger than her fear, and it launches her on thrilling, hilarious and sexy adventures. Like getting a sex toy stuck in her punani or getting tested for the breast cancer gene at 25.
Finally, Sutton Brady (Meghann Fahy) is Scarlet's resident realist. She happily pursues a job in advertising sales because the salary and bonuses would give her a financial boost most college grads saddled with student loans are desperate for, and it's more realistic than her desire to pursue a career in fashion. Her friends, and secret boyfriend, a high-ranking legal counsel for Scarlet, encourage her to pursue her dream, including offering financial support, and we watch Sutton blossom, albeit naively, before our eyes.
The Bold Type succeeds on many fronts. The Glam Three as I call them, possess an innate and magical onscreen chemistry that doesn't feel as styled and forced as most editorial shoots. It's the effortless grace of a Tyra smize or Naomi working the runway. This empowering drama makes real issues like money woes, Twitter bullies, bisexuality, the plight of being Muslim in America, feel incredibly spot-on while entertainingly heightened. It's post-Trump catharsis in a little black dress.
What's more? The editor-in-chief, a glam career woman with a highlighted Miranda Priestley haircut, isn't an expressionless monstrous boss that sends the assistants scattering. Jacqueline Carlyle (Transparent's Melora Hardin) is a shrewd businesswoman and also the resident Mama-In-Chief giving her young staff the permission to be emotional, to make mistakes, and the space to recover from them on their own.
The Bold Type does get a little unfashionable at times. Jacqueline's constant understanding and penchant for having the right answers is a little unrealistic. I've had fantastic bosses, and even their understanding wears thin when there is work to be done.
"If You Can't Do It With Feeling" addresses rising Islamophobia, however, a confrontation with a belligerent racist rightfully brings up artists Adena's fear as a Muslim immigrant while completely ignoring that Kat's as a black woman. The show scores high marks for its inclusion, but loses a few when they neglect to mention the epidemic of police brutality, racism and hatred against minorities in this country.
Finally, several of Sutton's moments of empowerment come off a bit entitled and loony. Receipt: Sutton applies for a job as an assistant to the fashion editor. When he mistakenly confuses her for the other, insanely qualified applicant, Sutton not only doesn't correct him, she leans into the lie with other colleagues. She gets the job after being outted as a liar and turning in a second, more effective moodboard that explains her personal style. This should have been a triumphant moment for one of The Glam Three, but instead, I just felt that the other applicant--who actually went to fashion school--was profoundly screwed.
Ultimately, The Bold Type is a sensational TV drama with surprising and much-needed heart, and that should always be in style.
Don't miss The Bold Type on Freeform every Tuesday at 9/8c.
Photo Credits: tvline.com; newyorktimes.com
Small Screen Girl
I am an unabashed pop culture and TV-aholic with no plans to ever seek treatment. Explore this blog and see just how deep my obsession goes.