The Bold Type Review
One of the more daring and entertaining comedies of the last five years was MTV’s Faking It. A brilliant series set in a mythical Austin high school, the central story deal with a pair of best friends, Karma and Amy, who, in an effort to become more popular decide to pretend to be lesbians. The impetus for a series of brilliant stories about sexuality, teenage popularity, and female friendship, I was personally devastated when MTV inexplicably canceled after just three seasons. Because of that, I didn’t do what I usually do, and try to find out about follow up projects that any of the cast were involved in.
This definitely worked to my disadvantage, because I’ve only recently learned that Katie Stevens, the more outgoing Karma in the series has been one of the leads in Freeform’s The Bold Type, a series which is now into its second season. Based on the story of Cosmopolitan’s editor-in-chief Joanna Coles, it follows the adventures of three twenty-ish women, who end up working at Scarlet, a New York women’s magazine. Freeform has been doing some interesting young adult programming in the past (I’m already a huge fan of grown-ish and still mourn the loss of Bunheads), and if it were just for the locations and the work of Stevens, the series would be intriguing. In fact (and this is just after a couple of episodes), what I’ve seen is already much better than that.
The three young women at the center of the series are very different. Stevens plays Jane, a woman who has harder more journalistic ambitions than some of the others. Meghann Fahy plays Sutton, who spent much of the last season involved in an illicit romance with one of the her male superiors that ended up imploded in the season finale. But by far the most fascinating character is Aisha Dee’s Kat, a biracial woman, who spent much of last season, getting involved in a relationship with a Muslim lesbian. But this character isn’t just checking off boxes, she seems fully dimensional and is constantly in the process of self-discovery. In the first part of last night’s premiere, she spent much of the episode discussing the possibilities of oral sex, which the series discreetly handled in the closing minutes. In the second part, she was involved in a long discussion involving her bio, in which a black editor challenged her to put up that she was the ‘first black female editor’ of Scarlet. This led to some very personal agonizing, and a long talk with her parents, who finally told her how unhappy her father’s parents were when he married a white woman.
Now, less you think the entire series is this much messaging, it’s also really fun. When Kat told her friends on a phone call about her first experiment with oral sex, she finished with: “First one here gets the detail”, which led the other two to rush across town, and cover with juice. The other stories are equally intriguing. Jane left Scarlet last season to work with a more hardcore magazine called Incite, wrote an article on her first day that turned into a slash job that she hated. When she tried to apologize for it, the voicemail ended up going viral, and when she tried to apologize on a media outlet, she said far more than she should’ve, and got fired. Sutton seems to be dealing with the blowback from her affair with Oliver, among the other assistants there. It also helps that the three women have one of the more appealing female bosses in recent memory, Jacqueline Carlyle (Melora Hardin, a revelation for anyone who just knows her from The Office), who seems more interested in positive messages and keeping her magazine working than going upstairs.
I know that like so many shows, I’m probably not the ideal audience for The Bold Type. But the majority of the characters are very well drawn, there’s a lot of genuine humor here, and the messages are a lot subtler than they can be in these types of series. I’m also particularly pleased that Stevens seems to have landed on her feet, and fell upward. Hopefully, Rita Volk will soon do the same. Still, could we maybe get a Faking It Netflix movie before its too late?
My score: 4.25 stars.