The Bold Type, created by Sarah Watson was inspired by the life of Joanna Coles, the former Editor-In-Chief of Cosmopolitan. It aired on FreeForm.
The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the writer and may differ from other viewers of The Bold Type
As a 52 year old, a series about young women in their 20s forging their careers and dealing with relationships wasn’t exactly something that spoke to me. I heard the buzz on The Bold Type and knew several people who watched the show. But one of my criterias for choosing to start a television show is usually whether it features an actor whose work I’m familiar with. I didn’t know any of the three leads on The Bold Type. However, one name in the cast stood out. And that was Melora Hardin. As a fan of Hardin since 1987, I wanted to see her portrayal of The Bold Type’s Jacqueline. But sadly as I don’t have Free Form, I had to wait to watch it on Hulu. And I’m glad I did.
The Bold Type gave viewers a glimpse into the world of working at Scarlet, a global women’s magazine through the eyes of Jane Sloan (Katie Stevens), Kat Edison (Aisha Dee) and Sutton Brady (Meghann Fahy). The evolution of these women was explored from their personal and professional relationships. Kat, Jane and Sutton were very different but the bond of friendship strengthened them as they weathered the turbulent waters of being young women striving to succeed. They had to be (for lack of a better word) bold in order to overcome challenges to get what they want. In this piece, I’ll discuss who Kat, Jane and Sutton are and how their time at Scarlet shaped their lives.
Let’s start with Jane. She is a perfectionist who despite her gift as a writer, seemed to be at a crossroad. Who was Jane really? We learned that as a little girl she read Scarlet and dreamed of working at the magazine. Fast forward to adulthood, Jane is now one of Scarlet’s writers and wants to make a name for herself at the magazine through pieces that speak out to the intelligence of the readership. Unfortunately assignments such as “How to Stalk Your Ex Without The Benefit of Social Media” and sex articles on the best orgasm, weren’t exactly the hard hitting journalistic writing she had in mind. In watching Jane, I got the impression that she wasn’t always comfortable in who she was; here was this attractive, smart career woman but oftentimes, she appeared as though she felt as if she wasn’t taken seriously as a writer. In her pitches to Jacqueline (Melora Hardin), Jane presented story ideas that would cause Scarlet readers to think, not turn to the lipstick or perfume ad on the next page. Personally, Jane wanted a loving, committed relationship like what boss Jacqueline had with her (Jacqueline) husband. So, Jane embarked on a romance with Ryan Decker (Dan Jeannotte), a writer at Pinstripe Magazine but it never reached the status of the great love affair Jane wanted. Later in the series, it was revealed that Jane’s mother died of breast cancer when Jane was a child. The pain she suffered over the loss of her mother at such a young age scarred Jane and made her reluctant to get the BRCA testing for the mutation that causes breast cancer. I agreed with Jane as she faced making the decision to go for the BRCA testing; fear of knowing was almost as worse as the fear of not knowing. And remembering what her mother had gone through as a woman only 32 years was something Jane didn’t want to experience at 25. But her desire to want to help other women pushed Jane forward and she had the BRCA test, with friends Kat and Sutton at her side for support. As Season One ended, Jane was faced with a bold decision: Staying at her “safety net” Scarlet, or leaving and going to Incite Magazine, where she was told that she wouldn’t just be an Incite writer she’d be Jane Sloan. A new startup with financial backing and the freedom to write the pieces she desired was an opportunity too great to pass up. In the end, Jane chose Incite.
So what type is Jane? I’d say cautiously optimistic. She feels that she is capable but is not a risk taker until she has thought it out. Jane is a planner through and through. Her pro/con list is as much a work tool as her laptop.
Moving on to Kat. I call Kat Edison “The Rebel With a Cause.” If Kat believes strongly in something, she’ll fight for it. Remember when Scarlet’s higher-ups had a problem with posting photos of women’s breasts on Scarlet’s Instagram site? As Social Media Director, Kat refused to allow freedom of creative expression be silenced. Her solution? A “free the nipple” angle on social media. Kat began posting pictures of nipples or anything resembling a nipple. She even took a photo of a male intern’s nipple but didn’t identify it as such just to see how it was received. Now that was a bold move! Unfortunately, Kat’s actions had scary and dangerous consequences when she attracted the attention of an internet troll, who posted a suggestive picture of Kat herself followed with hateful comments. The incident threw Kat. She had never been a victim and here she was being victimized. A woman who had suffered the same thing saw Kat’s plight in social media and offered her help. Kat used the internet to fight back, showing internet trolls she was strong. I applaud Kat and The Bold Type Writers for this story. Too often people hide behind the anonymity of a computer screen to spew hate. Viewers of The Bold Type who may have found themselves in a similar situation as Kat were encouraged to take away an internet troll aka coward’s power. Bravo The Bold Type! Kat Edison had carved out an impressive career for herself at Scarlet, but soon found herself questioning her identity personally after meeting Muslim photographer Adena El-Amin (Nikohl Boosheri). Kat, who had always been heterosexual, found herself attracted to Adena. I think that in Adena, Kat saw the woman she wanted to be. Kat had grown up in a life of privilege as the daughter of professional parents. In fact, her father’s call helped secure Kat getting hired at Scarlet. But here was Adena, a women faced with discrimination on two fronts: As a Muslim and as a lesbian. She didn’t let that deter her and Kat admired Adena for it. But Kat was torn in pursuing a relationship with Adena because as she told Jane and Sutton, female romances were complicated as women bring drama and over talk situations. When I watched this scene, I so agreed with Kat. In my opinion, women do tend to be over dramatic on occasion and can allow their emotions to over complicate things. For me personally, I’ve always had more male than female friends because of this. However, The Bold Type showed Kat and Adena’s friendship built on mutual respect and trust develop into a romance. Dubbed “Kadena” by fans, Kat and Adena as a couple presented a positive lesbian relationship for the LGBT community and should be commented. As Season One concluded, Kat made the decision to throw caution to the wind and leave Scarlet and New York to be with Adena.
Kat is the free spirit type. She’ll make the bold moves if they strike her passion.
And finally, our trio of bold women concludes with Sutton. Of the women of The Bold Type, Sutton was by far my favorite. I think it was because I related to Sutton more than Kat or Jane. I know how it felt to want to pursue a job but are forced to work in a position because you need the money (like Sutton being Lauren’s assistant when she wanted to work in fashion). When Sutton told Kat and Jane that she couldn’t storm into Oliver’s office and demand a salary increase, I could relate. When you are poor and have limited resources, you often swallow your pride and put your dreams on the back burner in order to make ends meet. And you don’t make waves with your employer by giving them an ultimatum. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t confident in your abilities, you’re just realistic because you know you don’t have something to fall back on. Like Sutton, I moved cross country for my job and also keep emergency cash in an envelope for if I need it. Anyway back to Sutton. As Lauren’s assistant, Sutton was excellent in her job. But her desire was to work in fashion. When a position in the fashion department as an assistant to Oliver (Stephen Conrad Moore) became available, Kat and Jane encouraged their friend to go for it. And Sutton’s boyfriend Richard Hunter (Sam Page), who she was seeing in secret as he was a member of Scarlet’s Board of Directors as well as the magazine’s attorney, put in a good word for her. In true drama series fashion (no pun intended), Sutton’s lie about having a fashion degree almost cost her the assistant job. Sutton’s aforementioned forbidden romance with Richard made her uneasy too. Yes, she loved Richard but knew the consequences they’d face if their relationship was discovered. So, they ended it. My heart broke for Sutton; I wanted her to be happy and loved she and Richard together. And when Richard later in the series told her that “I should have fought for you,” I thought, “Yeah, why didn’t you?” Sutton next attempted a relationship with writer Alex (Matt Ward). Alex was a good guy with genuine feelings for Sutton. But he didn’t want to be “that guy,” you know, the one who’s with the girl who’s in love with someone else. So a Alex/Sutton pairing ended before it started.
I’d say Sutton is the realistic dreamer type. She knows what she wants, but also knows her limitations are based on her circumstance. Sutton won’t give in though. She’s bold enough to know that in life you have to make things happen instead of waiting for things to happen for you.
Finally, I want to talk about the boldest of them all and my reason for watching The Bold Type in the first place, Melora Hardin’s Jacqueline. As the Editor-In-Chief of Scarlet, Jacqueline Carlye is a force to be reckoned with. She’s been in the business for over twenty years and can handle her own. Jacqueline is the type of boss I love. She doesn’t tell you what you want to hear, she tells you what you need to hear. Jacqueline pushes her staff wanting them to achieve the best for Scarlet, but more importantly, for themselves. In the Season Finale episode “Carry the Weight,” Jacqueline revealed to Jane that she had been sexually assaulted by a work superior. Although she never got over the experience, Jacqueline used it to grow as a woman. As she told Jane, being a victim didn’t make her a victim and she wasn’t going to let it define her. Jacqueline is the woman Kat, Jane and Sutton should strive to be.
So there you have it. The women of The Bold Type. We all have a little Kat, Jane, Sutton and Jacqueline in us. The question is, how can we use our boldness to achieve success and happiness?
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Photos taken from the internet; credit given to original sources