The Bold Type, a show whose first season of the four premiered in the U.S in 2017 on FreeForm, was recently made available to watch in India on Netflix. Since its launch on the digital platform, The Bold Type has been in the top ten trending shows. So, what is making this show such a hit and why do the millennials love it?
When you see the first episode, which is set up in the office of a fashion magazine ‘Scarlet’ in New York, you will be able to think of some classic movies like ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ or TV series like ‘Sex and the City’, ‘Ugly Betty’ and ‘Gilmore Girls’. Meanwhile, The Bold Type promises the Gossip- Girl like rom-com and drama but also tackles some out of the box issues.
The Bold Type is based on the lives of three best friends who are in their mid-twenties, with flawless skin and great sense of fashion trying to excel in their careers and at the same time making bold choices in their personal lives. They are always there for each other. We see independent women who are carving out their identities with their bold choices and raising their voices within an establishment dominated by a board of members, who are, you guessed it: all men.
Not just that, but the contents of The Bold Type has pushed boundaries and started conversations around taboo subjects like: BRCA cancer gene, exploring sexual inclinations, pornography, yeast infections, yoni eggs, gun ownership, loopholes in women’s health insurances, racial/class/gender privileges, cheating, digitisation and how it is affecting the printing press, custody battles, body positivity, assault and its victims, love and loss. The list is quite diverse, just like the cast and the representations.
In the pilot, editor-in-chief of the Scarlet magazine, Jacqueline Carlyle (Melora Hardin) greets her employees and board members by saying she’s elated to see their “ethnically, sexually, and gender-diverse faces.” However, one popular criticism is that when The Bold Type was being promoted and celebrated for its inclusion, diversity and inter-sectionality, the same was not happening off-screen.
Aisha Dee who plays the character of Kat Edison, the first Black female head of the department, spoke about how there were loopholes in the external dynamics of The Bold Type. Through a post on Instagram she talked about the nuanced representation and development of the white hetero characters versus “the inconsistency of the stories centering queer characters and person of color” in The Bold Type. She added, “We cannot bring specificity and honesty to experiences we have not lived. And when there is a lack of representation, the way marginalised characters are treated is even more important because they have the potential to empower or perpetuate damaging stereotypes that have a lasting and real effect on real people.”
She also said, “It took two seasons to get a single BIPOC in the writers’ room for The Bold Type. And even then, the responsibility to speak for the entire Black experience cannot and should not fall on one person. We got to tell a story about a queer Black woman and a lesbian Muslim woman falling in love, but there have never been any queer Black or Muslim writers in the room. In four seasons (48 episodes) we’ve had one Black woman direct two episodes.”
A source familiar with the show told Variety that The Bold Type has had queer women of color on staff. The show had a lesbian woman of color in season two and bisexual woman of color in season three. In season four, the writers’ room consisted of three people who identified as LGBTQ+ members, and five writers were people of color. Eight out of the 10 writers were women, says the source.
Another problem that needs addressing within The Bold Type is the picture perfectness and unreal standards of beauty it is setting. When it comes down to the characters we see in the series, they can be summed up, just like in the words of the great Carrie Fisher in When Harry Met Sally: “Thin. Pretty. Big tits. Your basic nightmare.” In Episode 9 of Season three, we see Sutton (Meghann Fahy) engaging in a discourse about how Instagram gives out a false body image. She says, “It is not real life. It can be hard to remember that when you see all these beautiful faces and insane bodies.” Same, Sutton, same. When these statements are coming from someone who is thin and tall and always well dressed, it is hard for the audience to believe the same. Just like it is for Carly in the series (Kiara Groulyx).
Producers of The Bold Type, Freeform and Universal Television showed support for Dee in a statement issued to Variety.
“We applaud Aisha for raising her hand and starting conversations around these important issues. We look forward to continuing that dialogue and enacting positive change. Our goal on ‘The Bold Type’ is and has always been to tell entertaining, authentic stories that are representative of the world that Kat, Jane and Sutton live in — we can only do that if we listen,” they said.
This statement from the producers gives me a little hope for the next season of The Bold Type as just like some of you who have binged watched their way to season four, I have a lot of expectations from this show.