When I first saw the trailer for The Bold Type about a month and a half ago, I assumed I would like it for its trashy enjoyableness, just as I like The Royals and adored Gossip Girl in its first few seasons. When I watched the first two episodes of the series tonight, I was struck by how untrashy it actually is. Focusing on three friends working at a fashion magazine, I assumed there would be superficial and tumultuous romantic relationships, poor and often irritating workplace drama and tons and tons of personal issues — most series are unable to avoid these genre staples.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
We’re introduced to three friends at the start of episode one. We don’t learn how they became friends (three to four years ago, we assume), we don’t even learn much about their lives before the present until episode two. We follow Jane, the ‘uptight, focused one’ who has just been promoted to writer, struggle to find her voice while trying to impress the chief editor. We find out that Sutton, an assistant with dreams but facing reality, is having a secret relationship with a higher-up. We see Kat, a confident, outspoken social media curator, get involved in an article — and an artist — that she feels passionate about. It’s not a normal introductory episode but it really worked to get me interested and obsessed to watch more.
It’s a light fun girl-power show with three layered, flawed, strong leads and a fantastic mentor character (praise be Melora Hardin). It touches on real issues by reducing them from issues to just occurrences in everyone’s lives. For example, in episode two, Jane writes an article about never having had an orgasm. Apparently, statistics say about 10% of women haven’t, but the number’s probably higher because there’s a stigma against not having one and women don’t accurately respond. Instead of the show making Jane go out and have an orgasm, she checks out several reasons why she may not have before giving up but eventually writing a candid article.
It might treat some issues a little lightly — Adena’s detainment in her home country (was it mentioned?) by a repressive regime (for carrying dildos in her luggage) was minimised slightly by the fact that Kat’s first instinct was to initiate a media war against the country. It’s a Millennial response, to be sure, but even if Adena’s not a lead character it seemed a little too glossed over. It’s a real issue in quite a few countries outside the West and one that in most cases isn’t dealt with via connections that result in freedom.
Yet, the show is magnificent in most ways.
The touch of reality mixed with drama really works, without seeming too ridiculous or too gritty for general enjoyment. For Millennials (and I’m assuming these characters are only a few years older than me), it’s hard to mitigate the fun life we’re supposed to have in our 20s with the need for a stable but enjoyable job that pays the bills. The Bold Type perfectly shows that reality isn’t glossy, but it can be fun and upbeat even when it’s difficult.
I’d initially assumed (I need to stop making assumptions with this show, and I interpret things way too literally, clearly) that its title was in reference to bold printed letters, a subtle nod to the journalistic theme. Yet, it’s clearly shown in episode two’s conclusion — as two of the three girls decide to make a bold decision in their professional lives — that they’re the bold type.