Arts & Entertainment

‘The Bold Type’ Showcases Bold Women with Vulnerabilities

Wikimedia CommonsKatie Stevens, 24, plays newly-promoted writer Jane in Freeform's "The Bold Type."

The night of “The Bold Type”’s season one finale, my roommates and I sat with the lights off and popcorn only slightly burnt. The doors were locked and there wasn’t a single phone screen in sight. We weren’t the only ones tuning in that week, or any other.

About 300,000 viewers a week on average started watching “The Bold Type,” a recent summer series on Freeform about two months ago and never looked back, managing to get thousands more hooked along the way and a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The strong following is, most likely, due to its rare example of female empowerment through portrayals of loving and emotional women and the power of supportive friendships.

Inspired by the experiences of former Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Joanna Coles, the show focuses on the lives of three outspoken, bold young women working for a Cosmo-like magazine called Scarlet. There’s Jane (Katie Stevens), recently promoted to writer in the first moments of the pilot, Kat (Aisha Dee), social media director extraordinaire, Sutton (Meghann Fahy), small-town girl turned big-city assistant and Jacqueline Carlyle (Melora Hardin), the editor-in-chief of Scarlet and supportive mentor for the girls. Though it could be somewhat cheesy at times, the acting from Stevens, Dee, and Fahy more often than not came through as authentic and relatable.

The dynamics between the characters feel astoundingly real, with just enough unnecessary complications to remind us it’s a drama series. The friendship between Kat, Jane and Sutton is the cornerstone of the show. From bad dates and scary medical appointments to drunken escapades and promotions, they go through ups and downs throughout the season, but always support each other. Their friendship is the most important relationship in the three young women’s lives, and the show refreshingly treats it as such.

The girls’ individual relationships with their mentor, Jacqueline Carlyle, are given quite a bit of attention as well. When first introduced, Jacqueline seems to be the typical dragon-lady boss archetype, but instead turns out to be a perfect representation of the show’s emphasis on the power of supportive and loving female friendships. She consistently encourages the girls to grow as both professionals and people.

With a fantastic balance of emotional intensity and fun, light-hearted moments, “The Bold Type” makes its viewers laugh, cry and become invested in the lives of its characters. What hooked viewers wasn’t the comedic timing or excellent scoring, although that may have been part of it, but rather how empowered it made them feel. The women in this show aren’t strong because they have catsuits, superpowers or heavy male influence, or even because they wear all black and stoically suppress their emotions. In fact, these women are depicted as incredibly vulnerable. They write personal stories that are often difficult or embarrassing to share, take risks in their personal and professional lives, and express their frustrations and fears openly and without shame. They are strong because they are brave enough to take chances despite knowing how easily things can go wrong.

“The Bold Type” ended its first season on Sept. 5 with a powerful finale. With below average ratings in comparison to other one season Freeform shows, it hasn’t been renewed yet, but there is strong fan support for a second season. In the meantime, it may not be on Netflix yet, but the show is available to watch on Hulu, Freeform.go.com and Xfinity.

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