In the not-so-distant past, summer was known for its dearth of television. Praise be Peak TV, that is not the case anymore. Now there’s so much TV to get us through the summer months that it’s hard to know which shows to watch while nursing an unfortunate sunburn or refusing to go outside because you cannot stop sweating. Through a sea of worthwhile options, Vulture would like to bring one particular show to your attention: Why not give Freeform’s The Bold Type a whirl?
This delightful show, which returns for its sophomore season on Tuesday, follows three 25-year-old best friends as they navigate their careers and love lives in the New York publishing world. Now, you may read that and be like, “Auntie Vulture, haven’t we seen shows like this a thousand times?” And to that, Auntie Vulture says, “You may think you’ve seen shows like this, but The Bold Type is better. Now, bring me a fountain Diet Coke and let me tell you things.”
What sets The Bold Type apart is that it’s remarkably of-the-moment. It walks a tonal tightrope of poignancy and silliness by tackling tough issues (sexual assault, immigration, and breast cancer, to name a few), being fabulously feminist, and still remaining fun and flirty. It’s a high-wire act that the show pulled off consistently in season one. If that’s not enough to entice you to take off your sunnies and spend some time with Jane, Kat, and Sutton, here are some additional reasons to give The Bold Type a chance.
The complex female friendships
The foundation of The Bold Type is the friendship between Jane (the writer, played by Katie Stevens), Kat (the social-media director, played by Aisha Dee), and Sutton (the fashion department wunderkind, played by Meghann Fahy). Forget about being invested in romantic relationships, you must be invested in their friendship for this show to work. Don’t worry, The Bold Type makes that part really easy. The three women met as assistants at Scarlet magazine four years ago and it was BFF love at first sight. They do fun friend things like going on group Tinder dates, being drunk and high in a bathtub together, and “freeing the nipple” in Central Park. They do supportive friend things like offering free housing when one suffers financial troubles, holding hands as one gets tested for the BRCA gene, and forcing one to take a fedora off before humiliating herself. But they also fight and disagree and say hurtful things. Their friendship is messy and it is unconditional. Know that I do not say this lightly: Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang would be crazy proud.
The bonkers chemistry between the leads
Aside from being written with authentic, complicated female friendships in mind, Jane, Kat, and Sutton’s relationship is believable thanks to the stellar, palpable chemistry between the women who play them. From the pilot episode, Stevens, Dee, and Fahy seemed to have that BFF shorthand down. The teasing, the laughter, the hugs — it all feels so genuine. They really do seem like they’re having the best time and it radiates through the screen. Is there room for a fourth? I promise to never wear a fedora!
Two words: Jacqueline Carlyle
Imagine a very awesome world in which Miranda Priestly and Oprah had a child. Well, that child would be Jacqueline Carlyle, editor-in-chief of Scarlet. Played by Melora Hardin, she’s got the sharp edges, fashion sense, and no-nonsense manner of Ms. Priestly, but she’s also a nurturer. She wants the best out of her employees. She doesn’t coddle, she pushes, but in a very supportive way. She says very wise things like, “The writing gets easier, the broken heart takes time” and “You had me at drop-crotch floral pants.” She can cut a person down with an eyebrow raise. She does not feel the need to scream into an expensive throw pillow after every board meeting in which she has to explain the importance of Scarlet’s stories about female sexuality to a group of old white men. She is so self-assured, she even tells Beyoncé that she’ll call her back at a better time. Jacqueline Carlyle — smart, confident, thoughtful — is a great mentor figure to properly deal with the neuroses of 25-year-olds.
Career drama is just as important as romantic drama
How refreshing it is to see a show explore the highs and lows of figuring out your work life in your 20s! This is not a show where Jane, Kat, and Sutton hang out at Scarlet simply to pass time in between their hookups. All three are ambitious and learn both tough and triumphant lessons about what happens when you go after what you want. Mustering up the courage to ask for more money, having to fire someone for the first time, and figuring out what happens after you get your dream job are story lines that pack just as much emotion as the rest. Even if you are not 25, it is a relatable and reassuring angle and it’s done so well. I never thought I’d be crying while watching a young woman demand free lunch and a three-month employee review, but here we are.
But the romance is pretty fun, too
How lucky we are to be alive during the TV rom-comaissance! The Bold Type fits nicely next to shows like The Mindy Project, Jane the Virgin, and Younger — all smart, funny, swoony rom-coms that happen to be on television. There are compelling love triangles! There’s a woman in search of her first orgasm! The Bold Type even elevates the “assistant secretly dates the boss” trope by making the two parties in question genuinely care about each other, putting the assistant in the driver’s seat, and exploring the double standard inherent in this kind of relationship. Also, it’s very sexy! Don’t discount the sexiness! The most dynamic romantic relationship from season one, though, is between Kat and Adena (Nikohl Boosheri), a Muslim artist that she meets through work. The season follows Kat as she navigates her first gay relationship all while dealing with Adena’s visa issues. These relationships really run the gamut, is what I’m saying.
Frocks and frivolity are back, honey
Did all the nostalgia surrounding the 20th anniversary of Sex and the City have you jonesing to watch beautiful people in fabulous clothes hopping around New York City? Younger does an admirable job of scratching that itch — although the clothes are a little wackier and it focuses more on the wonderland that is Brooklyn. But, aside from those aforementioned drop-crotch floral pants, The Bold Type is really the place to visit for wardrobe envy these days. (I mean, they do work at a fashion magazine.) If you’re looking to fall in love with the hopeful, dreamy version of NYC again, look no further.
You know those TV shows where you’re like, “I’m crying right now! Why am I crying?” The Bold Type is one of those shows — and the biggest reason why it creates these moments is the montages. Almost every episode features some sort of montage set to music that breezes through what each of the three ladies are dealing with in that particular moment. Sometimes it’s joyful, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes empowering. Give me women marching into rooms demanding things all day, every day! Whatever the mood, the montages always seem to be tear-inducing. Seriously, the music supervisor deserves a raise.
It’s a show about women being brave, finding their voices, and showing up for one another
Yes, yes, one-thousand times yes.