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Why You Need To Watch: The Bold Type

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You may hear the premise of The Bold Type and immediately think of The Devil Wears Prada with the likes of its ‘dragon lady’ boss and naïve, ambitious journalists. Well, stop that. Something fresh and ready for the millennial modern experience, this show is bold even in its conception.

Despite averaging less than a million views across all mediums for most episodes, The Bold Type has remained successful at the Freeform network, untouched by shock cancellations of other, more vocally supported shows. It was The Bold Type that was ordered for a two-season renewal after its first season, and the show has been positively reviewed countless times since.

Originally created by Sarah Watson (Parenthood, Pure Genius), the second season of the show is steered by a new showrunner, Amanda Lasher (Sweet/Vicious, Gossip Girl), replacing Watson. It is easy to see where a Gossip Girl veteran fits in: the transition to the new from the prior season carried out without turbulence.

The premise remains the same. Three young millennial women work for a Cosmopolitan-esque magazine called Scarlet, having worked up from interns together. The leading ladies are - Kat Edison, the social media director (Aisha Dee); Jane Sloan, the up-and-coming writer (Katie Stevens) and Sutton Brady, a personal assistant-turned-fashion department assistant (Meghann Fahy).  

We follow their lives through career events, personal failures, relationship triumphs, sexuality confusion, and so much more. For instance, at the end of last season, Jane made a hugely precarious career decision. Since the debut of the new season, we have seen Jane in various stages of working full time, freelancing, and being unemployed, and it’s refreshing to actually see a character wallow in failure for a while. The show serves as a reminder that often our lives turn out a little differently than the way we want, or feel we deserve, and yet, makes you feel ready to try. To be bold.

What makes The Bold Type stand out is, well, its epistemological boldness in which the show tackles issues as big as racism, financial inequality, sexism, and sexual harassment, as well as the smaller topics of so-called ‘Walks of Shame’, the indecisiveness of which love interest to pursue, and if the girls can afford to do certain things. For example, Kat and Jane pull together to help Sutton financially with her rent so that she can pursue her dream of working in the fashion department of the magazine, where the pay is substantially less than what she can afford. A light-hearted, nuanced approach is the foundation of this great piece of entertainment. There is not one episode where you do not somehow understand or relate to the lives of these characters.  

Furthermore, the show admits to its own issues. The first season was very much driven by white feminism, despite the odd witty quip by Kat, but early in the second season they help bring Kat’s personal experience of racism into a very poignant story arc, wherein Kat, privileged in some ways, must decide whether her biography on the Scarlet website should include the fact she’s the first black female department head at the magazine.

The challenge of what to some could be a small detail drives Kat to have an insightful discussion with her parents about colour, racism, and privilege. The personal and specific framework wherein the girls face the world enables us to want to understand them and thus the audience wishes for our own world become a place where kind, reckless, flawed, hardworking people like these lead characters can succeed in happiness.

The style of the show is very similar to the likes of Freeform’s Pretty Little Liars and Shadowhunters, and yet it succeeds where those shows probably fell short: comedy and plot. The Bold Type is just as funny as it is heart-breaking, just as sexy as it is serious, not that these are mutually exclusive.

Despite the potentially distressing topics, which have previously included rape, deportation, and drug use, the show works hard to make sure the audience always feel safe and reminds us that ultimately, these girls will be okay. They do this through the guiding hands of protectorate roles such as Jaqueline, the formidable and compassionate editor-in-chief at Scarlet, and various supporting roles which include love interests, platonic relationships, and not-so-helpful characters intermingled around each of the three girls.

Let’s just say that by the time you begin the second season, the likeability of all the leading ladies will make you realise that even what some consider a simple fashion magazine can serve as a beacon for discussion surrounding the themes of intersectional feminism and modern life. Just remember the skill by which Seventeen covered the American general election and the #MeToo movement.

Ultimately, even if you are not a female twenty-something living in New York, this show will make you feel ready to take on the world. We can’t wait to see where else The Bold Type takes us.

In the UK, you can watch new episodes on Amazon Prime, the day after the American release on Wednesdays.

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