With an empowering take on feminism, The Bold Type is a must-watch show for everyone across the world.
The Bold Type is an American comedy-drama series created by Sarah Watson and produced by Universal Television. The show is inspired by the life and career of former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine Joanna Coles. The show follows the lives of three millennial women; Jane Sloan, Kate Edison and Sutton Brady played by Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee, and Meghann Fahy who work at a global magazine publication called Scarlet and struggle to establish their identities in New York City.
A Fresh Take on Female Friendships
The importance and healthy portrayal of female friendships depicted in The Bold Type immediately caught my attention. While pop culture is dominated by male friendships, the rare instances where we see women bond are often followed by feelings of jealousy, betrayal, toxicity or worse, fighting over the same male protagonist. Films like Cocktail, Aisha, Mean Girl and shows like Made in Heaven are some examples of the same.
The three best friends who happen to be the protagonists of this show do have their cliché girl’s night outs and ranting sessions but the flaws and contrasting points of view of each character make their friendship seem real and relatable which is hard to find in many other shows today. Yes, films like ‘Sex in the City’ have focused on having a loving ‘girl gang’ but their internal dynamic sets unrealistic expectations like leaving all your work just to travel across the country to be with a friend.
For better or worse, today people are heavily influenced by pop culture and often internalise the characteristics and personality traits of characters they see on television. The problem with the toxic narrative of female friendships shown in media is that it subconsciously sets a low bar for female friendships in society. People accept and normalise the toxicity they see amongst female characters on television and forget to question or put a stop to the same. The Bold Type, in its own ways, sets a healthy and positive idea around having your ‘girl gang’ and reinforces the thoughts and aspirations of positive and lifelong female friendships.
Every Boss Should Watch This Show
Having worked and interned in the media industry, I would firstly like to clarify that the portrayal of such a supportive and caring editor-in-chief as Jacqueline Carlyle played by Melora Hardin who motivates and pushes her employees to bring out the best version of themselves is probably as close to fantasy as it can be. Real-world bosses or people in upper management positions do not come close to the portrayal of such an amazing boss as shown on this show. However, while it may not be an ideal benchmark for freshers, all those who hold leadership roles must watch and learn from The Bold Type.
Jacqueline Carlyle is a strong female lead who is supportive not just of her team but also of the sources and individuals her magazine interviews. Unlike mainstream female bosses who are often represented to be mean, conceited and fearsome like Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada, Jacqueline sets the bar for what an ideal boss should be like and leads by example. She pushes her team to broaden their perspective and encourages them to develop a growth mindset while starting difficult conversations in her organisation.
While I do agree that her character is too good to be true, having an ideal leader to look up to, even if it’s fictional, doesn’t hurt anybody and bosses across the world can take inspiration from her character. Furthermore, millennials and gen Z are the prime target audiences of this show who are known to be the change-making leaders of tomorrow.
Yes, Women Like Sex Too!
Even today, people and the media talk little about female pleasures and a woman’s curiosity to learn more. Most intimate scenes you see in cinema across the globe depict women to be submissive or less interested in sex as opposed to men. Fifty shades of Grey is a classic example of the same. The book and film in question made a bold statement by addressing BDSM themes, but it depicted the male character, Christian Grey as the dominant. Another example is the novel Normal People by Sally Rooney. Here Marianne knows what she wants, yet she (as a woman) is the one who prefers to be submissive and asks Connell to hit her. The problem with this consistent narrative in pop culture is that it reinforces this power dynamic in society and constructs it to be normal while suppressing women’s sexual needs as a whole.
The Bold Type does not only empower female pleasures but also shows Kate struggling to find her place as she explores homosexuality. In Season 4, Kate is taken aback when Cody asks her to ‘peg’ her with a strap-on. Eventually, after her experience with Cody, she realises that she was uncomfortable not because she was new to this concept but because patriarchy has never made it okay for a woman to be in power, be it in the boardroom or in the bedroom. She expresses her sorrow over the fact that women are not conditioned to be in a position of power or control and find themselves intimidated in such situations.
On the other hand, Jane struggles to write an article about female orgasms as she, being 25 years old, has never had one. While many women may relate to Jane, few are able to talk about it. While society is quick to judge women who haven’t had an orgasm, they are the ones to hold responsible for the same. If only sex education and conversations around female pleasures were encouraged, maybe women would not have to fake it. The show further mentions that it is not always on women, but also the result of negligence by men who do not take the onus of making women orgasm and prioritise finishing themselves.
While society doesn’t question men masturbating on and off screen, pop culture is slowly catching up to normalising women using vibrators. Along with starting the conversation on female pleasures, The Bold Type also normalises and portrays them in a positive and healthy light because, “Why should boys have all the fun?”
Gets Difficult Conversations Started
While sex and pleasure may be difficult to talk about, what about subjects like racism? Homosexuality? Gender constructs? Sexism? And a lot more. This series dives into cultural issues across the globe and explores them at an individual level. A great example is when we see Jane struggling to find a stable job only to get rejected by a media house due to diversity hiring. Without questioning the caliber of the person who got the job instead of her, she starts lashing out at her friends. Kate then raises her concern over the fact that we believe in diversity and equality as long as it doesn’t affect us at an individual level just because some come from a place of entitlement in society.
The show gets difficult conversations started which may be uneasy to address but essential for the youth to ponder over today. Just like Kate Edison, there are many people still trying to figure out their sexuality and their place even in the LGBTQ community. On the other hand, Alex struggles to date a woman because she is more successful than him which in hindsight makes him feel less of a ‘Man’. The Bold Type is filled with such examples which truly represent the struggle of today’s generation.
The Struggle in Journalism Is Real
Films like Runaway Bride and How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days depict a glamorous and slow-paced journalistic environment which surprisingly provides good pay and gives the characters the freedom to chase their own stories. Reality, my friends, is nothing close to this. Journalism can be one of the most underpaid industries with little to no freedom over the content you have to produce as a beginner.
While the show may glorify some aspects, it shows the difficulties of being a freelance journalist who struggles to pay the rent and is overwhelmed by anxiety and uncertainty. It blatantly puts forward the fact that one may not always get to produce stories as per their preference and many times will have to chase stories they feel uncomfortable covering.
The Bold Type also carefully depicts the double-edged sword social media can be for journalists. While it gives them a great reach, getting trolled for taking a stand or expressing your personal opinions may raise or destroy your career. It also gives an insight to the chase and ‘jugaad’ journalists do for a story and what a massive disaster it can be if a source lies or changes the narrative.
On the whole, I loved watching this series and would recommend everybody, male or female to view the same. The only thing I felt that The Bold Type fell short of was brown representation.
Ada follows the latest developments in lifestyle and entertainment. She is passionate about environmental issues. Instead of waiting for weekly episodes to release, she prefers binge watching. She is also fond of reading and writing and has a book reviewing blog. You can find her Instagram account here.