Tuesday, August 15, 2017

REVIEW: 'The Bold Type' - Richard Hosts a Dinner Party for Jane, Kat and Sutton in 'Three Girls in a Tub'

Freeform's The Bold Type - Episode 1.07 "Three Girls in a Tub"

Richard is determined to get to know Sutton's friends outside of the office and invites the girls to dinner, but things don't quite go as planned. Sutton attempts to network with a new social circle by attending a high tea. While on a date with someone else, Jane comes to a realization about Pinstripe. Jacqueline is forced to intervene when Kat's new staffer keeps damaging Scarlet's social media presence.

The Bold Type has been a little inconsistent in how naive its main characters are about the business they are in. Jane, Kat and Sutton have proven their worth to the company. They have all worked hard for the jobs they have at Scarlett. They are invaluable to the business and the overall show. And yet, each week sees at least one of them surprised by something about their job. It's a weird moment each week too. At times, it's just out of plot necessity. One of the women needs to be naive about something so that the audience is fully aware of what's required of them in this position. But other times, it seems to contradict information that happened earlier in the season. Sutton has fought hard for her position in the fashion department. She stood out because she made an impassioned plea to Olivier and was able to get him a necklace when no one else could. But now, it's frustrating that she didn't know she'd need to network in order to make it in this department. She already seemed on top of things last week in her ability to get the necklace because of her friend who worked for the designer. But now, it's just the latest attempt to show how out of depth she is. Oliver needs to explain it to her even though the concept of networking is easy to understand. It's a weird moment that largely happens because of what happens to Sutton at a networking event. It's just odd and forced in a way that hinders the main story.

In fact, the show seems to be making a point of having Jane, Kat and Sutton's lives be chaotic on the very night where Richard actually interacts with them as a group of friends. Richard has best been defined through his relationship with Sutton. That's been an important part of her character story as well though it isn't the sole thing that defines her. Richard has a job at Scarlet that will keep him around the show for the foreseeable future. He's the businessman who sees things very analytically and what will and won't bring legal action against the magazine. He's a professional. There is also a generational difference between him and the three leads. He is positioned more as a peer of Jacqueline's. Of course, it's been confusing as well. Richard's age has been hard to pinpoint because of Sam Page's youthfulness at 40. So far, it's just been important that his relationship with Sutton is fun and happy. But now, the two of them need to deal with the realities of their dynamic. Sutton is sleeping with her superior. Richard is sleeping with an employee. They aren't in the same department. They don't interact a lot at work. But they are still in the same corporate structure which could produce a huge scandal for the magazine and lead to swift termination for both of them. That's a reality that they are just now starting to face.

The show has also asked the audience to sympathize with the actions of Sutton, Jane and Kat more than Richard. Yes, he and Jacqueline are often right about any given situation. They have the experience in this business to know when something has the potential of being a problem. But there is a clear generational divide when it comes to the dinner part at Richard's apartment. Richard is taking it seriously because he wants to make a good impression on Sutton's friends outside of work. Meanwhile, they are all so casual about it. Sutton believes she can go to the networking event, make a couple of key contacts and still make it back home before Jane and Kat arrive. Jane has scheduled a date beforehand with absolutely no expectations for how it might go. And Kat still isn't having a huge reaction to a potential scandal caused by one of her employees. The three of them are comfortable just getting into a hot tub and sharing their lives with each other. They are that close. But it's not appropriate at Richard's apartment. It's still empowering and uplifting to see in the end. But it also highlights the differences amongst the characters and how the core trio can be self-destructive simply because they don't have the awareness that comes from experience.

It's all then made more complicated by Kat bursting into Richard's office at work mad at him for something he did at the dinner party. He used information he gained about her situation during the evening to lodge a formal complaint. Kat knows that her new underling is clueless when it comes to operating a corporation's Twitter account. There's a responsibility that comes from managing that page. Each tweet goes out to millions of people. Every link needs to be properly researched. Every word needs to reflect the company well while not opening up the magazine to a lawsuit. A simple joke by one person could easily be misconstrued. Of course, the joke that Natalie believes is so funny is just bad. Kat knows that she has to fire her. It's the best thing for the department. Richard actually making a professional inquiry into her file though seems like a betrayal to Kat. She can't believe he would do that given their new personal connection. It just further complicates the business dynamic. Of course, Richard is right to do what he did. It's also very inappropriate for Kat to confront him about it. But again, the show only features the consequences as they play out for Jane, Kat and Sutton. Everything is still seen through their perspectives. It's a great way to tell stories most of the time. But it would have been interesting to spend more time with Richard and just how precarious his job really is at the company. He says that an action like that could cost him his job. That's probably very true. But the threat isn't real because the show simply doesn't spend enough time with it. It's nice to acknowledge how inappropriate it is. Kat responds according. But it's all a little too predictable as well.

Plus, it's all building up to the moment where Sutton and Richard realize that their relationship is always going to be complicated as long as they work together. They breakup because of that. It plays as this grand, sweeping scene of emotion. It's devastating because the two of them have invested so much into each other. Richard has proven himself to be a good boyfriend. He can't always be there for her because it would compromise his job. But he has done right by her. This isn't a case of Sutton needing to leave a bad situation. The logistics of it all are just too complicated for them. However, the show also seems to be saying that the end of Sutton-Richard and Jane-Ryan as couples are the same. They are not. Sutton and Richard have been an important story since the beginning while Ryan has been important for helping move Jane's personal story along. There's a key difference. Sure, I'm not as personally invested in either of them as I was in the Kat-Adena dynamic. That was new and interesting while these two pairings are more tame and conventional. Again, they had their moments as well. This just feels like the episode that makes all of the girls single again as they grow more frustrated with the realities of modern-day love. That's a fascinating story for the future. But the structure of this episode just makes it more forced and noticeable.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Three Girls in a Tub" was written by Ian Deitchman & Kristin Robinson and directed by Jann Turner.
  • Jane's story is the most conventional and lame of this week's episode. She's struggling with the idea of dating multiple guys at the same time. She believes she can do it because the guy she likes is doing it. But that's not true at all. She still seems mature in the end by figuring out what she wants and not asking Ryan to change because of it. It's a moment of growth even though Ryan's longing makes it seem like something more is suppose to be going on.
  • And again, Ryan was a perfectly good boyfriend for Jane too. She would sometimes read too much into something when it wasn't true. But he always did right by her. The sex was good and he brought her lunch. He was always honest with her. Of course, her new date seems good too. She has a connection with him even though she clearly wants to move quickly when it comes to sex.
  • Jane just casually talks about genital piercings to her boss and her husband. That just feels incredibly inappropriate. And yet, it's laughed off as a joke. Instead, this is a business where the most personal details of a person's life are being written about and discussed. As such, that makes it fine. It still feels weird though.
  • Before last week, Jane and her friends had no idea about anything in Jacqueline's personal life. And now, her husband is just casually stopping by the magazine all the time. They are flaunting 20 years of marriage for everyone to see. It's nice and heartwarming. But how was Jane clueless to Jacqueline's husband's existence before last week's episode?
  • This is the first time that Kat has had to fire someone who she hired. She wants to excel as a boss. She's good at her job. This is an important part of being in charge though. She needs to inspire her co-workers to do great work. Here, she tries everything to get Natalie to do a good job. None of it works. It feels like a personal defeat for Kat. But at least she still has Jacqueline to help her through it.
  • The show really enjoyed the phrase "high tea." It was an amusing concept before Sutton actually attended the event. Then, it took on a new meaning once she went and got high. It was only after that realization that she actually started to network. It seems she made quite the impression as well - just maybe not the one she wanted to make.