As we sit at home quarantined for a seemingly infinite amount of time, it can be hard to find the motivation to do anything other than sit in pajamas and watch television. With all of the uncertainties, getting excited or planning for my future seems like a daunting task. As a young female aspiring writer, The Bold Type has been the perfect binge-watch for me to turn that around, which is why I’ve just watched the first season in less than two days, leaving me more inspired than ever.
Inspired by the life of the former Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan, the show follows the lives of three best friends, Jane, Kat, and Sutton, who are kicking off their career at Scarlett Magazine, a popular beauty and lifestyle magazine aimed toward feminists. The storyline surrounding each of the girls is as inspiring as the next one, all conveying important messages for young females.
After spending three years as an assistant, Jane is finally promoted to the writing team, where she hopes to find her voice as a writer. But Jane doesn’t just want to write about the latest fashion trends or how to get a boyfriend, she wants to dig deeper into sparking political conversations. Her one big desire is to make something meaningful, something that pretty much all writers can hope and dream for, making her character feel especially relatable.
When the Editor-in-Chief of Scarlett Magazine, Jacqueline, recognizes the powerful voice Jane could have in politics, she suggests starting a political column to the board. She is quickly shut down when the board member explains that it’s a big risk steering away from the typical fashion and beauty in fear of losing viewership. Jacqueline refuses to give up, however, saying that “engaging young women in politics is a risk worth taking”. She closes the conversation by stating that she shouldn’t need to ask about the column, she is telling them about the column, as she is confident that young women will be just as interested in politics as they are in fashion and beauty. Jane’s desire to do more than just fashion and beauty and find her powerful voice as a writer shines here, because she inspired a whole new column for young women everywhere to read.
Jane is my favorite character for a few reasons, but most importantly, as an aspiring writer with a lot of self doubt, she reminds me that every writer faces challenges in creating something meaningful. She really embodies what writing is all about — finding your voice and inspiring some readers along the way.
Kat works for Scarlett’s social media team. Her storyline is especially raw and truthful, delivering important messages about sexuality and religion that are important to hear. Kat explores her sexuality when she falls for a lesbian Muslim named Adena. Adena faces a lot of challenges as she navigates life in America and sends important messages about intersectionality. Because she is a minority in two categories, religion and sexuality, she faces a lot of backlash. For example, a white heterosexual men on the streets telling her to speak English or leave. Kat ends up punching him demanding an apology to Adena, and when the police arrive, Adena quickly scurries off to avoid confrontation with authorities. Kat is upset by this, saying that she totally abandoned her when she needed her. Adena explains that “as a Muslim lesbian living in America [while trying to extend her Visa, her] choices are very limited”. While Kat thinks that since he started it she should’ve been able to just prove her innocence, Jacqueline reminds Kat that “being right isn’t always enough in this political world”, reminding us of the sad reality that we live in.
Lastly, while on a date, Adena takes Kat’s phone from her, encouraging her to live life away from the screen. She wants her to spend a night living in the moment and seeing where the night leads her. She shouldn’t need to record the live street music, but rather just listen and enjoy. It is here where one of my favorite quotes is revealed, as Kat says “you know you can like something without actually liking something”, meaning that we don’t always have to tell the world through social media what we are thinking. While this may not be as serious of a storyline, I think it still deserves some mentioning, and is an important reminder to our technology-crazed generation.
Last but certainly not least, Sutton goes from being a low-level assistant job at Scarlett to working in the Fashion department and pursuing her true dream. Sutton’s storyline gives a lot of insight to women in the workplace. For starters, she has a secret relationship with one of the board members. When she talks out loud with her two best friends about her fear of anyone ever finding out, they remind her that she has a lot more to lose than him. This sad, yet true statement shows that sexism still exists because he would find another high-paying job while she would be scrutinized for “sleeping with him to get ahead”.
Her love life isn’t the only thing weighing down on her. When trying to get the job in the Fashion department, she is looked down upon for not having a degree from a fancy fashion school like the other front-runner for the position who went to FIT. She later goes on to explain to the head of the fashion department, Oliver, that the reason she didn’t go to any fancy fashion school isn’t because she didn’t want to, but rather because she couldn’t afford it. In a challenging time in her life, her only option was to attend Penn State University so that she could live at home. But the fact that she almost didn’t get the job because of this speaks volumes about classism in our society. Too often, people look at one’s history or resume to determine their place in the future, but fail to address the circumstances that make up their history. She should’ve been judged solely on her talent, as she was clearly the best one for the job, but she almost missed out on that due to judgement of her past.
But those aren’t the only powerful messages being sent by Sutton’s storyline. She also conveys the importance of speaking out for what you want and what you deserve. There’s one problem with Sutton’s dream to work in the Fashion Department: the salary is lower than her assistant job. Knowing that she can’t afford this, but also not wanting to give up on her dream, she marches into Oliver’s office and demands that if he can’t raise her salary, he should at least give her perks (and re-evaluate her performance and salary in three months). She reminds us that if you want something bad enough, you have to stand up for yourself. Most importantly, she reminds us that knowing your worth is a powerful tool.
The lessons of this show are endless. From women empowerment, to living in the moment, to self-worth, to acceptance and ambition, The Bold Type does an incredible job of bringing relevant and important ideas to life while showing us the highs and lows of three girls chasing their dream. So thank you, Freeform, for having the courage to spark conversations around societal issues that many media platforms are scared to bring up. The Bold Type is most certainly bold.
This show could just serve as another quarantine binge-watch, or perhaps it could be something so much more than that. Maybe it’ll be the show to inspire you again, just as it was for me. If you need me within the next week, I’ll probably be binge-watching the rest of this masterpiece. I’m excited to see what powerful messages are in store for the rest of the series. If I got all of this from just the first ten episodes, I can only imagine what lies ahead…
Cover Photo: Entertainment Weekly