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August 20, 2020

Let’s Talk About “The Bold Type” Season 4

Blog Banner: "The Bold Type" promo image, Kat, Jane and Sutton, with words "Let's Talk: 'The Bold Type' Season 4"

It’s not a secret that I’ve loved The Bold Type since it’s first few episodes released. For me, it came out at a time that I had gotten my first leadership role in a campus publication and has been a huge inspiration to me as a writer, person in media, and a professional woman in the 21st century.

That being said, the end of season 4 was–to be frank–not it. Here are my thoughts on why all three of Kat’s, Stutton’s, and Jane’s storylines are taking a step backward in terms of representation and feminism.

Kat

Kat’s story-line has probably been the most controversial. Prompting the actress, Aisha Dee, to make an extended Instagram post on representation, Kat’s story-line is a hot mess. Starting the story-line with her fighting with her parents and trying to find a job ending in hooking up with a white republican woman who doesn’t share a thing in common with her.

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Kat’s character has always been a little frustrating to me. I love her, I want to be as brave as her, but sometimes they have her do things that just don’t make sense or are massively cringe-y. The biggest one that stands out to me was the way they had her navigate lesbian, and queer women spaces for the first time. As soon as she walked into a room with other queer women they immediately started hitting on her. The writers perpetuate this idea that queer women find another queer woman and immediately have to hook-up. It’s a tacky stereotype we’ve been trying to distance ourselves from for decades (and one reason why the L Word is not great representation).

This all makes sense when you read Aisha’s post. “It took two seasons to get a BIPOC in the writer’s room for The Bold Type.” She goes on to talk about how only two episodes were directed by a Black woman and how it took two seasons for them to get someone who knew how to style her hair. Not once does she mention any LGBT+ representation in the writer’s room or otherwise. The Bold Type is talking about important stories but doesn’t have anyone with personal experiences of them in the writer’s room or in the director’s chair.

Now in Season 4, Kat is attracted to the woman who threatened her. Who continually undermines her. Who is white and privileged and conservative. I had hoped this storyline would have been about teaching Ava how hurtful her ideals were, not another gay-but-with-internalized-homophobia trope. It’s getting tired and fans are right to be outraged. This is not good representation and not something Kat would do.

The other issue I have with this storyline is that it perpetuates this stereotype that all queer girls fall into bed when they meet another queer woman. That queer women are so few an far between and we’re desperate for connection so we sleep with the first girl that’s interested. They’ve done this to Kat a lot on the show that she can’t seem to just have a female friend who’s queer without sleeping with her.

Jane

Jane’s storyline is actually the least frustrating to me, but I wanted to point out this double standard that the show seems to be working with. Jane refuses to date Scott because she’s in a position of power over him, but she was a champion for Sutton and Richard. Before anyone says anything I know Richard wasn’t Sutton’s direct manager, but he was still on the board of directors and in a position of power over her. I’m not against either couple, but I think it’s a double standard that Jane is worried about dating an employee and Richard wasn’t. In both situations, it’s the girls that are panicked.

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This is obviously a double standard for women acting differently than men when put in a position of power but I think it also speaks to the notion that women will always be the ones with their careers in jeopardy. It’s frustrating to see Jane with Scott on the couch pushing her feelings down when we know the same thing would have never happened to Richard.

Sutton

Finally, let’s talk about Sutton. There are a lot of great places they could have taken this story-line and they chose the outright most anti-feminist route. They had a divorce story-line over something Sutton and Richard should have talked about before they got married. I’m aware that Sutton is younger and at a different point in her life than Richard is, but they fully hashed that story-line out when (as Richard points out) they had a chat with his friends at the dinner party seasons ago.

The thing that frustrates me the most about Sutton’s story-line, though isn’t the fact that it’s cliche. It isn’t the fact that they actually had Richard say the line, “I’ve made sacrifices.” It isn’t even the fact that they had Sutton go and be like her mom even though it’s completely against everything her character stands for. No, the thing that frustrates me most of all is there was so much potential for a better, more underrepresented story to be told.

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From the moment we found out about Sutton’s pregnancy and then miscarriage I actually got excited seeing ways they could have taken the story. I thought they were going to have an important conversation about women and how kids affect their careers more than men statistically. It would have fit Sutton’s character and life goals perfectly and fit the show’s feminist narrative. They could have also talked about the loss of a child and how that affects people. The story-line I wanted to see, however, was a story-line about Endometriosis or infertility. Many women find out they have Endometriosis or are infertile because of a miscarriage. As someone who lives with PCOS, I’m very invested in women’s health and reproductive disorders and I was really hoping to see a conversation about that. Instead, we got yet another marriage fight caused by miscommunication.

“The Bold Type” had an opportunity to really make important commentary on serious issues both politically, socially, and medically. I think they went completely out of character this season and missed the mark. Supposedly, due to COVID-19 the last two episodes of this season never got filmed so I hope this gives the writers a chance to rethink the direction they were going in and use these story-lines for a better purpose.

Have you watched this season of “The Bold Type”? What did you think of the story-lines?


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