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6 Things We Loved (And 4 Things We Hated) About Season 1 Of “The Bold Type”

“I expect you to unleash holy hell on anybody who tries to hold you back, because you don’t just work for Scarlet. You are Scarlet.”

Posted on September 6, 2017, at 7:34 p.m. ET

After premiering on June 20, The Bold Type, a new Freeform series, became a major topic of conversation among its viewers. The show follows three best friends — Jane Sloan (Katie Stevens), Kat Edison (Aisha Dee), and Sutton Brady (Meghann Fahy) — who are also coworkers at Scarlet magazine, based in New York City. Scarlet is run by editor-in-chief Jacqueline Carlyle (Melora Hardin). The first season came to an end on Sept. 5, and here are our thoughts on the first 10 episodes of the series:

LOVE: The aspiration of it all.


The Bold Type is a shiny show. Viewers get that impression from the series’ first promos, which featured three young women dressed in richly colored fancy dresses, screaming in unity on a subway platform. That’s the gist, right there: great friends, doing something relatable — who doesn’t want to scream sometimes? — while wearing clothes that are definitely out of the price range of many of the people watching.

I watch The Bold Type from a very specific vantage point: I’m a woman working in New York City's editorial world — the exact industry they’re representing — and I have a tight-knit friend group not unlike the one the show is centered on. In other words, I’m primed to see all the ways the show gets it ~right~, and all the ways it veers off into glitzy fantasy: the strange avoidance of Brooklyn, the fact that Jane seems to report directly to the editor-in-chief...there is an edge of unreality to things.

I don’t begrudge them this reality gap, though — that’s half the fun of TV. The Bold Type isn’t trying for the bumbling, angsty realism of, say, Girls’ depiction of twentysomethings in the city. They’re also not trying for the Gossip Girl tradition of showing us a world that’s almost entirely untouchable unless you’re born into it. Instead, the show hits a sweet spot somewhere in between — it’s recognizable and warm, but oh so shiny. That can be a nice escape, especially with our real-life era marked by so much turmoil. The Bold Type is the TV equivalent of a warm, good-smelling bath. It feels like self-care. And truly, the clothes are amazing.

Alanna Bennett

HATE: How the show handles race.


The Bold Type reminds me of the kind of glossy magazine they work for on the show (Cosmo, Marie Claire, Glamour, etc.), full of fun, juicy celebrity gossip and "girl power" that often doesn’t represent me — a black woman. As much as I enjoyed watching the show, I couldn't help but notice how the show has at least three recurring black characters who never address their blackness, making race seem like the elephant in the room for most of the series. There's Kat, who has the highest-ranking position out of the three main characters despite being black. And while that can come off as a bold diversity casting at surface value, putting her there without the context of how she managed to land such a position at 25 when black women make even less on the dollar than white women, plus the fact that the show never depicts combating work issues that are specific to black women, is lazy. There's no payoff to having her represented in that manner if her race is ignored.

The same can be said of how Alex's (Matt Ward) character is handled. When Jane gets the job at Incite over Alex despite him having more experience than her (the season starts with her being promoted to a staff writer, a position Alex already held), the series sloppily glosses over how race could have played (and often does play) a role. And then there's Oliver — a black man who somehow managed to land the job of fashion director at a magazine whose audience (like any other “mainstream” women's magazine) is white women, despite not coming from a traditional fashion school background. HOW?! Please tell us! When it comes to being a truly diverse TV show, casting black actors as main characters is only half the battle. Their experiences, storylines, and dialogue must be representative of their race as well.

Sylvia Obell

LOVE: Kadena’s romance.


It’s not uncommon for teen dramas and other shows like The Bold Type to give fans a couple who they can be excited about and ship together for the rest of the series. Kat and Adena — or Kadena, as viewers call them — are definitely that couple.

Their arc as a couple has had its ups and downs, causing viewers to feel like they’re on an emotional rollercoaster: They met professionally, they flirted a bit, Kat had what she thought were unrequited feelings, and then she learned her feelings were actually mutual. Then Adena broke up with her girlfriend, Coco; Kat gave in to her fear of commitment; the two decided to finally give it a real go; and then Adena had to fly back to the Middle East — where she’s originally from — because her work visa expired and she wasn’t allowed back into the US.

Nothing came easy for Kadena, but their onscreen moments that involve just the two of them walking along the streets of New York, sitting in Adena’s apartment, or aimlessly walking around the airport are fun, sweet, and intimate. It’s exciting to root for two people to make it when the odds are stacked against them. Not to mention, as two queer women of color, their romance brings an important representation to television.

Krystie Lee Yandoli

LOVE: The pop culture references.


It's so hard to drop hyper-specific pop culture references in a TV show without the dialogue coming off as forced. The last true success story that comes to mind is Gilmore Girls. But The Bold Type manages to pull it off at least once an episode. It's part sharp writing, part pacing, and part effortless delivery from the cast (especially from Meghann Fahy, who plays Sutton). And all the references are just, well, cool. They're accessible enough to stay mainstream, but still hip enough to make you feel like you're smart for being in on the joke.

"Did you just quote Nora Ephron to me?" Jane snaps when her pseudo boyfriend tries to assure her that "everything is copy." We get nods to Hamilton, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and even a good Jared Kushner burn — "You're getting that black Jared Kushner vibe, right?" an appalled Alex asks from underneath a horrible flower button-down and yellow sweater. "You're only missing the flak jacket," Sutton quips back. Jane even goes on a date with a dude who plays in an aughts cover band — not an alt band, mind you, an aughts band. They only play songs from the years 2000-2009. Admit it, you smiled.

Keely Flaherty

HATE: How inaccurately New York City is portrayed.


The Bold Type is set in New York City; while the show is far from the first fictional series to embellish what life is like in NYC, there are a number of inaccuracies that come up in the minor details.

First and foremost, Jane and Sutton live in a fairly sizable — and beautiful — apartment for being at the start of their magazine careers, one as an editorial assistant and the other, a writer. Sure, Kat’s parents are apparently rich, so we at least have an explanation for her living situation and outfits, and there’s also Scarlet’s fashion closet. But the three main characters in this show live in beautiful and large NYC apartments, are usually dressed impeccably, and happen to have unique experiences that would be unrecognizeable to a lot of real New Yorkers — like leaving a $5,000 necklace in a cab and having it returned. Also, in the first episode of the series, Jane talks about how her ex-boyfriend broke up with her at Grand Central Station when they were supposed to be getting on a train to take them to the Hamptons. But the Hamptons are in Long Island, and the only trains that go out to Long Island from Manhattan are located at Penn Station, not Grand Central. People who are familiar with New York can pick up on these slight — but visible — blunders.

In the grand scheme of things, these minute details aren’t relevant to the overall plot and they don’t hinder viewers from grasping the core values of the show. They do, however, make The Bold Type’s reality feel a lot more far-fetched and a lot less realistic.


LOVE: The subjects that are tackled beyond the surface level.


While The Bold Type is a show about friendship, love, work, and living in New York City that provides elements of escapism and easy, feel-good viewing, the first season also tackled issues that really matter. When Kat and her love interest Adena finally decide to give things a real shot, Adena isn't allowed to fly back into the US from her temporary residence in France because her work visa expired. She's forced to fly back to where she's from in the Middle East, highlighting the struggles that some couples deal with when it comes to immigration. In another episode, Sutton goes to bat for herself by fighting for the job she wants and the salary she knows she deserves, even though having a tough conversation with her new boss is intimidating and nerve-racking. And in the season finale, Jane discovers that her boss, Jacqueline, is a sexual assault survivor like the one she's writing about for her last story to be published in Scarlet before she goes to work at Incite.

These fictional women are dynamic, but they're also reflections of what it means to be women in the real world: They have office crushes, go on terrible and amazing dates, encounter conflicts with their bosses, deal with ramifications of the law, and after a long day of ups and downs at the office, they lean on each other — their friends and coworkers, the line often blurred — to get through it all. From immigration to equal pay, sexual assault, racial discrimination, and everything in between, The Bold Type uses its characters and storylines to demonstrate that the personal really is political, and a Freeform show that's set in the office of a women's fashion magazine, can be layered with in-depth topics.


LOVE: Sutton and Richard’s relationship.


Look, I am a straight black male journalist in his twenties who has worked at a women’s publication before and enjoys a crisp pair of khakis. There are few characters on television I could relate to more than Alex on The Bold Type, and that is why I was so against him and Sutton ever dating. Sutton and Richard are perfect together — one of the most lived-in romances I’ve seen on any show in years. Thankfully, Alex realized that in the finale and moved right on to go find someone who will actually love him.

I really like that the show starts with Sutton and Richard already together, and although their meet-cute was basically the same as Aria and Ezra from Pretty Little Liars, they are way less creepy. Richard finally helped me realize why most of my female friends are dating men over 30. Every time I think Richard is going to be trash, he surprises me. He is completely supportive of Sutton’s career in a way that doesn’t overstep his bounds and allows Sutton to achieve her own accomplishments. When I thought he was going to yell at Sutton about her and her friends being annoying at dinner, instead, he's totally chill about it. When he catches Sutton and Alex in the midst of thick romantic tension at the locksmith, he isn't completely weird and jealous over it. Finally, when he finds out Alex and Sutton slept together shortly after they split, he doesn’t slut-shame her at all, as is the M.O. with most exes on these types of shows, and instead stops her at the bar at the Scarlet party to tell her that he should’ve fought for her.

Marcus Jones

HATE: The “Previously On” segment at the beginning of each episode.


I cannot be the only person who has watched The Bold Type early on and thought during the “previously on” segment, Who the hell is this British woman? Only those in the know about New York media would realize the voice is of Joanna Coles, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, the same magazine that Scarlet is based on. Even though Cosmopolitan is one of the best-selling magazines on newsstands, I still have a hard time believing its audience knows Coles’ voice and likeness. They even have her in a quick cameo in one of the early episodes as someone walking the red carpet, but it plays more as the show telling you “This person we are showing you is famous,” rather than the audience immediately recognizing her. Having her as the voice of the “Previously On” segment is too subtle a nod to Cosmopolitan’s involvement in the show. They should’ve either worked harder to establish Coles as a public figure in the world of The Bold Type or forgone hinting at Cosmopolitan’s involvement in the show altogether.


LOVE: Jacqueline’s character.


When Jane decides she’s going to take the other job offer at Incite and toasts with Kat and Sutton, it's only appropriate that they borrow some of the same words said by their boss, Jacqueline, in the first episode of the season. “I expect you to have adventures,” Jacqueline says in a conference room full of Scarlet employees and board members during Episode 1. “I expect you to fall in love, to get your hearts broken. I expect you to have sex with the wrong people. To have sex with the right people, to make mistakes and make amends, take a leap and make a splash. And I expect you to unleash holy hell on anybody who tries to hold you back, because you don’t just work for Scarlet. You are Scarlet.”

It's clear that these thoughts and philosophies, determined and encouraged by Jacqueline, are the backbone of the show. While her character is based on Joanna Coles, to most viewers she’s just Jacqueline, the fictional editor-in-chief who viewers tune in to watch on The Bold Type every week. She’s a strict, hardworking boss who cares deeply about her employees, especially those she’s chosen to take under her wing and mentor.

Kat, Jane, and Sutton (as well as the rest of their colleagues) respect Jacqueline and are sometimes intimidated by her, but more often than not these women are met with logical, motivational, and helpful advice from their boss. Jacqueline clearly has a vested interest in the success of her employees, which is a breath of fresh air when compared to the narratives about bosses we’re used to seeing on TV and in other fictional mediums in which editor-in-chiefs are more likely to be similar to Miranda Priestly (the notoriously difficult boss from The Devil Wears Prada, portrayed by Meryl Streep) than a compassionate boss who still cares about their publication succeeding.

Throughout the season, the show reveals bits and pieces of Jacqueline's own professional journey and her personal history that led her to running Scarlet magazine. In the season finale, for example, viewers even see Jacqueline explain how she’s a sexual assault survivor — and equally as important, we see her support her employees time and again, constantly teaching lessons about the significance of work, relationships, and everything in between.


HATE: The show’s intersectionality only goes so far.


The women of The Bold Type tend to drop a lot of buzzwords as they walk-and-talk through their offices. They talk about feminism, and intersectional feminism in particular, as if it is their job — and in a way, it is. They say the words over and over again, and it’s clear that for the series’ central characters, modern feminism is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. But there seems to be a place where the well runs out, at least in the show’s first season. There is time ahead for a deeper dive, for all of these characters. But in its first season, The Bold Type did what most shows spouting feminism still sadly do: It still centered whiteness, despite having a relatively diverse cast that includes two queer women of color. It would be easy for them to rectify this: All they have to do is acknowledge the elements at play, and show the full context of what these characters are dealing with and how they’re different from one another. As noted earlier by Sylvia, the show completely glosses over race. And though it has queer characters and a great queer love story, there’s still so much left to be done with Kat’s realization that she is not as straight as she once believed. I’d love to see an acknowledgment of where Sutton and Jane might not understand Kat’s experience — in her sexuality or her ethnicity — and where they hold more privilege than her, by default. I’d love to see them actively talking that out. I’d love to see someone actually use a term like “bi” or “pan” when it comes to Kat, as a lot of shows are still contributing to erasure by avoiding them. I’d love to see The Bold Type really show it understands how characters like Kat and Alex might feel in a newsroom still largely dominated by white women, even if those white women have the best of intentions. And I’d love to see them put their intersectionality into action, not just in one part of one storyline but in every part of this show.

In other words, I want to see this series really commit to walking the walk, because it’s a great walk when it’s done right.


A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.