Tuesday, August 22, 2017

REVIEW: 'The Bold Type' - Everyone Gets Very Anxious Because of Layoff Rumors in 'The End of the Beginning'

Freeform's The Bold Type - Episode 1.08 "The End of the Beginning"

As rumors of layoffs at Scarlet sweep through the office leaving everyone unsettled, Jane learns of a potential opportunity at a rival publication. Sutton is given a big opportunity when a co-worker buckles under pressure. Kat is tasked with organizing a "Readers Night" for Scarlet, but is distracted by thoughts of Adena - leading to a big decision. Jane talks Sutton and Kat into joining her on a dating app.

"The End of the Beginning" does a phenomenal job in exploring the feeling of anxiety that hovers over an entire business when rumors about layoffs arise. The show does an important thing early on by confirming to the audience that there is some truth to these rumors. Most shows would have the threat of layoffs define the story for an episode but have the resolution being the person in charge saying that they are completely untrue. In this case, the show understands the pressures and economic difficulties of running a print magazine. It's getting more and more difficult in this ever-changing world that is turning more to digital content. The show recognizes how big digital and social media now play in this business model. It treats it with respect and understanding. It knows that journalism has had to pivot in that direction and find a way to monetize it. It's an incredibly topical story considering several news outlets this year have announced that they are downsizing in order to focus on video instead of just digital articles. This hour doesn't pivot into that conversation. But the anxiety and uncertainty still hangs over all of the characters which makes it a very successful but unnerving episode.

Of course, it always seemed unlikely that any of the main characters would be out of a job. The show is still too young to actually do that twist. But the fear of it happening and how it plays out in the mind of a 20-something is a very compelling story. Jane, Kat and Sutton believe that they are killing it in their jobs. This season has shown them learning and becoming better within this business. But in actuality, Kat is the only one whose job is secure at the moment. She chose wisely when focusing on the social media aspect of this business. She's actually a department head. That has come with its own stresses and complications. That means she has some seniority over her friends. She is given this information early on from Jacqueline. She knows that there is validity to all of the layoff rumors. Jacqueline is determined to fight back and prove why Scarlet is still a necessary component for the publishing group that controls it. She's doing her job to acquire as much information as possible in order to present a strategy moving forward that will work out for everyone. She needs Kat's help in order to do that. But that only creates more stress between her and her friends. This is confidential information that she can't share. She's devastated that she can't because she wants her friends to keep their jobs. But she can't really say anything to him them cope with their uncertain feelings.

All of this quickly gets tangled up in Kat's own feelings for Adena. She is still in love with her. The two of them are still talking as well. This is the first time in a long time that Kat, Jane and Sutton are single at the same time. The breakups are still raw for some of them. Kat is still pining after Adena even if she's not willing to admit that. Meanwhile, Sutton is still heartbroken that things couldn't work out with Richard. But Jane is perfectly fine after ending things with Pinstripe. She's reading to get back out there in her quest for love. Their big group date is very awkward though. It mostly just forces the girls to realize what they actually want or should be focusing on right now. Sutton and Jane need to focus on keeping their jobs at Scarlet while Kat needs to accept that her feelings for Adena are still unresolved. Right now, all she can do is video-chat with her. That's the only comfort she can have. It's still nice. But it leads to her blurting out that she knows more about layoffs than her friends do. She's worried for them but couldn't tell them about it. And now, the truth is out there for everyone to deal with. It's stressful but in a very realistic way as well.

It's very fascinating to see this spark a discussion on what these characters would do if they were to get fired. It would be absolutely devastating for all of them. They need these jobs. They need that security. They've worked so hard and don't want to accept that it could all be over just as quickly. That threat is very real for Jane and Sutton. Jane wants to fight. She doesn't want to go down without putting up some effort to show her worth. So, she writes articles that don't really empower her voice but do generate a lot of attention on the website. She respects her power as a writer. But she feels she needs to do this in order to keep her job. But is that fair to her? She does this because it's what her business requires of her. Scarlet has a brand it needs to incorporate into most of its stories. Jane could have different opportunities elsewhere. She could have a chance to become a personality within the journalist industry. That could be an avenue worth exploring for her in the future. She just shouldn't close her mind to the possibility of it because it was her dream to work at Scarlet. Meanwhile, Sutton can stress out about being broke and without insurance if she lost this job. She sees it as a real possibility because she was just hired in the fashion department. But she also sees it as experience that may help her land a fashion job elsewhere. Her friends were willing to step up and help her out in the past. She has trust that they would do so again if the worst were to happen.

But it's also so fascinating to see Kat take this time to reflect on her life and the future. Her job is completely safe. In fact, Jacqueline reveals that the magazine will be giving even more responsibilities to her in the future. That will come with even more pressure but more opportunities to be respected in this business. Things in this job won't be getting any easier for Kat. But she loves it regardless. She's happy that her friends have survived the layoff cuts as well. She was willing to fight for them. She wanted to give them every advantage that they could. And in the end, they proved their worth to the right people. But Kat dreams of what life would be like if she could go and do anything in this world. She has such respect for the artistry that Adena exhibits in her work all around the world. It's so passionate and global. Kat can have that influence at Scarlet as well. She's still just laying the foundation for this part of the business. She wishes she could travel to Paris to see Adena and be with her. But she accepts why that can't happen. She needs to be responsible at her job and respectful of Adena working things out with Coco. But that's what makes it so moving to watch when Adena says that she wants to be brave and return to New York. It's such a grand, emotional moment because it's the show giving a core coupling something to celebrate. After being pushed away earlier this season, they are coming back together. That's empowering and really special. It's a nice, happy ending after a particularly anxious-filled episode. It's still one of the best episodes of the season. But it's nice to see Kat rewarded after a very uncertain hour for her.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The End of the Beginning" was written by Justin W. Lo & Wendy Straker Hauser and directed by Jann Turner.
  • Oliver is gone. So, it's up to the other people in the fashion department to lead a fashion shoot. It's a huge opportunity for Sutton and her co-worker, Cassie, to shine. And yet, the stress of layoffs is crippling to Cassie as she walks off the set out of fear. But it's empowering for Sutton as she knows that the shoot needs to happen. Without her, it wouldn't. She just needs to be more assertive in taking the credit afterwards.
  • Of course, it's also a little melodramatic that Sutton leaves a voicemail message on Richard's phone saying how it's been a really rough week and wanting to seek his comfort once more. At least, she deletes it. But it's clear that her feelings for him are still so strong and raw. That makes it seem unlikely that this breakup will actually last.
  • That group date was absolutely horrifying. Jane's date was comically horrible. There just wasn't any nuance to that interaction. At least with Sutton, she had the awareness that she was the bad date who couldn't stop talking about her ex. But this mostly happens so Kat can go out with a seemingly nice guy and be reminded about Adena after seeing the violinist by the river again.
  • Is Instinct really a good name for a news organization that just formed a partnership with a premium cable network? It seems a little too bland. Also, which premium cable network? The show just teases the audience with this being an up-and-coming but potentially lucrative place to work without really filling in many of the details. 
  • Furthermore, Jane and Alex are competing for the same job at Instinct. They are taking the meetings because of the uncertainty at Scarlet. Alex doesn't think his interview went well but Jane's did and she gets offered the job. That's a promising tease dropped at the end of the episode. So now, Jane has a huge decision to make about her future regarding her career.
  • After all the talk about layoffs, Jacqueline did confirm that they would be happening. They just wouldn't be affecting any of the departments that the audience cares about. So everyone will get to keep their job exactly as is. In fact, the social media department will be growing. So, it's more likely that things will seem larger moving forward.