Tuesday, September 5, 2017

REVIEW: 'The Bold Type' - Jane Struggles to Break Some News to Jacqueline in 'Carry the Weight'

Freeform's The Bold Type - Episode 1.10 "Carry the Weight"

Jane gets an eye-opening experience when she is tasked with writing a piece about a performance artist who is speaking out about sexual assault. Kat is distracted by thoughts of Adena while trying to throw a memorable NY Fashion Week party for Scarlet. Sutton gets into an awkward situation with Richard.

This has been a strong and confident season for The Bold Type. It's been a real year of growth for these characters. It still feels like the show has only scratched the surface of this world as well. So far, there hasn't been any news on whether Freeform is going to order more episodes. That's still incredibly disappointing because this is the type of show the network should be focusing on at the moment. It plays into the young demographic the network is targeting while still addressing adult storylines that can really resonant with audiences across the board. This season has tackled a number of really interesting subject matter. It's been empowering to watch. Each experience has allowed these characters to grow. They've learn a lot through their friendships, love lives and careers. They've chased after what they wanted even when their feelings were conflicted. It's been insightful to see them try to figure out their ambitions in this world. Nothing about this story feels stereotypical or conventional. It's putting a new spin on an environment that could have been very formulaic. As such, it's very fresh while crucial to showing how strong female relationships can be. It's been so terrific to see friends who support each other, a boss who critiques but is full of love and the emotional relationship of the season centering around two queer women of color. All of these stories and characters have helped The Bold Type stand out in some important ways.

Of course, there is some sense of finality to "Carry the Weight" as well. It's the creative team taking this time to write an ending for the show just in case that no additional episodes are produced. As such, it's a fine ending for these characters too. They reach some level of resolution in their various stories while still leaving a world of possibilities to explore in a potential second season. It seemed unlikely that the show would actually pull the trigger and have Jane quit her job at Scarlet to work for rival outlet, Incite. And yet, that's exactly what occurs here. She is unsure how to talk to Jacqueline about it. But she does ultimately get the confidence to make her decision known. Jacqueline respects the decision even though she is disappointed to be losing such a promising and talented young writer. The finale closes with Jane leaving for this new job having already grown so much in her current one. That's a possibly tricky situation for the show to work with if there is a second season. It would seem unlikely that Jane would be working at Incite when all of the other stories revolved around characters working at Scarlet. But that's a problem for the future. Right now, it's just empowering that Jane continues to listen to the advice that Jacqueline has for her in the hopes that it will continue to make her a better writer. That relationship has been so wonderful to see. It's importance is why Jane has been so successful as well. She can explore her identity outside of it as well. But losing this dynamic could be problematic for her as she leaves for a job that could be a huge unknown for her career even if it comes with her own vertical.

At least, Jane leaves Scarlet covering a major story that shows the emotional maturity she now has as a writer. This season has really seen her struggle to find her voice and connect with people. She's had stories that pop because of their cultural significance. She has proven herself to be an important and necessary political writer. But she's also written pieces to boost her overall page views. She's also had pitches that have failed. She's gotten personal. But now, it's important for her to convey the traumatic story of someone else. She needs to be the unbiased messenger for an incredibly personal and emotional story of someone else's pain. Jacqueline is skeptical that Jane can deliver that but is willing to give her this opportunity to prove herself. That's huge. She gets to interview a rape survivor who is putting on an art installation in the park to show the corruption within the broken judicial system. Her rapist walked free because the prosecutor didn't see a strong enough case. But she still has to live with the pain and fear that she'll never be normal again. It's powerful and emotional material to watch. Jacqueline pushing hard for Jane to get the story right is her being more forceful than she previously has been as an editor. As such, it was clear the story was going to go in one of two directions. It could reveal that Jacqueline is pushing Jane hard because she knows she's leaving and needs this final story to be excellent. Or it could reveal that Jacqueline is a rape survivor as well who is deeply impacted by this story. The narrative reveals the latter option to be true. It's gripping to watch as Jacqueline finally comes forward with her story. It shows that Jane is beneficial to Jacqueline in helping her grow as well. That's a powerful moment that would be a fitting goodbye between the two. They are connecting in a way that is more genuine and honest than ever before.

Because of the importance and emotional honesty to the main story, the stories for Kat and Sutton seem a little more trivial. It's New York Fashion Week and they have daunting tasks in front of them. Kat is putting together a party for Scarlet while also trying to break two million followers on Twitter. She's obsessing over the numbers. She's continually looking at the account to see if it has happened yet. She's putting together content in order to keep the numbers growing. She has a strategy for how to make this party a success on social media. She's on top of it regarding her job. But she also wants to use this platform for good. She has a voice that can reach a lot of people as well. As such, she agrees to have a live stream of the art installation in the park. It's a way to spread the message to a larger audience outside of New York. The attention has died down on this story. So now is the time to remind the world of its importance. Kat is willing to be a part of that story. And yet, she still finds herself distracted by her feelings for Adena. She tells Jane and Sutton about almost getting on the plane with her. She was too afraid to actually go through with it. But now, she's feeling confident that her work is actually making a difference in the world. That gives her the strength to go be with Adena once more. It's empowering even though the actual reunion doesn't happen onscreen.

Meanwhile, Sutton's story is all about her making her choice in the love triangle she has found herself in. She and Alex are still just starting to explore what a possible relationship could be. Things are awkward following their hookup. And yet, Sutton still agrees when Alex asks her out on a date. Of course, they aren't allowed to actually pursue their feelings because they are quickly caught by Jacqueline and need to talk about their relationship with HR. It's mostly just an excuse for Sutton to be in a room with Richard and have to talk about Alex. It's awkward but also seems to drag on for a really long time. The show wants this love triangle to be a really important part of this finale. And yet, I'm struggling to really care about either choice. Alex and Richard just aren't that inspiring as characters yet. They don't serve much purpose other than being romantic options for Sutton. The only romantic story this show is actually invested in is Kat and Adena. They get their happy ending. With Sutton, it's much more rewarding to see her continue to crush it in the fashion department. She told Oliver that she would be impressive if he gave her this chance. And now, she is following through on that promise. She is on top of things during the most chaotic week of the year. She impresses him so much that he allows her to go to one of the shows. That shows that he now trusts and respects her. That means so much more than her choosing between two men. Of course, the romantic story gets more screen time in the end. It's mostly just important that Alex gives her permission to be with Richard because she still has so many complicated feelings of love towards him. The finale seems to end with the two of them getting back together. But it doesn't really address how things will be different this time around. And yet, it's still a hopeful ending. That's true for all of these characters. They are chasing what they want and are succeeding in this business. That's a very great message to end the season on.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Carry the Weight" was written by Sarah Watson and directed by Victor Nelli Jr.
  • It's a lot of fun to see Jane, Kat and Sutton all complaining about running at the top of the episode. Jane believes they need to do it in order to have a healthy outlet to their various feelings. Meanwhile, Kat and Sutton just want it to stop immediately - which it does after Kat tells them about almost leaving with Adena.
  • Jacqueline has often been a very good listener. She hears the concerns of her employees but still ultimately makes the decision she deems best. So, it's a little weird that she keeps interrupting Jane when she wants to give her two-week notice. But again, it can all be explained away by her own personal feelings for this story.
  • Jacqueline is officially coming forward with her story of sexual abuse as well. She's speaking with Jane on-the-record for her upcoming article. That's important. Jacqueline has kept this story private for a long time. Only her husband knew that it had happened. But it's mostly just empowering to hear that things do resemble normalcy after awhile even though there still needs to be some kind of outlet for coping with what happened.
  • Sutton impresses Oliver not because of her expertise on the various outfits walking the runways but because of an article she writes detailing less expensive choices that readers of the magazine can find that will keep them stylish and on trend as well. That's an interesting idea that does ultimately pay off for her.
  • Those green screen photo booths at the Scarlet party are just weird and good for a couple of jokes. It adds to the absurdity of the situation because Sutton is ending things with Alex in there. The picture then reveals that it was all happening in outer space. It's a good joke but still makes for an odd visual.
  • Again, I really hope that Freeform does the right thing and renews this beautiful and smart show. It's been a pleasure to watch this summer. It's been an uplifting story in increasingly chaotic times. It's a necessary type of story in many different ways. I don't think it will be a long wait before Freeform makes its decision. I'm just choosing to be cautiously optimistic.