Tuesday, June 12, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Bold Type' - One Story Changes Much of Jane's Career at Incite in 'Feminist Army' & 'Rose Colored Glasses'

Freeform's The Bold Type - Episodes 2.01 "Feminist Army" and 2.02 "Rose Colored Glasses"

Jane is excited to publish her first big piece for Incite. A new corporate policy seems to give Sutton and Richard the green light on their romance. Adena grows frustrated when Kat seems too eager to flaunt their relationship. Kat bristles when Alex recommends she highlight that she is black in her company bio. While introducing her parents to Adena, Kat is forced to confront how her avoidance of labels has affected her life.

The basic premise of The Bold Type is watching Jane, Kat and Sutton explore their young adult lives and careers while working at Scarlet magazine. It was an environment that revealed new things about each of them while also challenging them to push for excellence as well. As such, the biggest mystery heading into the second season involves Jane's recent decision to leave Scarlet to go work at Incite. She left Scarlet for a reason. She wanted to be a more serious journalist writing articles that would have a significant impact on the world around her. She thought she was limited with her opportunities at Scarlet because it is a magazine more known for its articles about sex, dating and fashion. Now, Jane did a number of hard-hitting stories last season. She covered a variety of stories that addressed some complex and topical issues. But she just saw a better outlet for her voice. Of course, the audience should expect for her to find her way back to Scarlet eventually. Otherwise, it would be taking one character away from the rest of the show. This premiere easily could have started with Jane in Jacqueline's office asking for her job back because Incite didn't work out - either as a company overall or for Jane. It would be a lame resolution to that cliffhanger. But it would bring things back to normal in an understandable and quick way at the top of the second season. And yet, it's better for Jane to explore this other outlet to realize that not all businesses are run like Scarlet is. She was very fortunate to have Jacqueline as a boss. And now, she is still craving Jacqueline's approval more than anyone else's. But it's also important to point out that Jane's voice doesn't really fit in with the Incite brand. Incite's editor, Victoria, went after Jane for a reason too. She was willing to give her her own vertical to do whatever she wanted. But the premiere points out that Jane doesn't have free control. In fact, the article she does write is heavily rewritten by Victoria in order to give it the Incite perspective. It's clear that Victoria wants a unified message coming from this company instead of a variety of different perspectives. That's not inherently bad either. She is chasing respect as a serious news organization that tells the truth no matter what. Jane has remorse about the article that is published under her name. She is ridiculed for it online and costs a female CEO her business and respect in the industry. Instead of highlighting an issue Jane was passionate about, the article was an expos√© revealing a new fraud in the world. That's not what she intended and every action had the right consequences to it. Jane got fired for speaking out against her company. She shouldn't just be able to get her job back at Scarlet either. Yes, that should be where the story ends up. But it should reveal a new character journey for Jane as well.

Elsewhere, Sutton is forced to make a major decision about her love life and her career. In the first episode, the company issues a new policy that states that co-workers can date so long as they report it as being consensual to H.R. That opens the door for Sutton and Richard to be together officially as a couple. The love that they had was very passionate and real. They love each other and want to be together. The only reason they weren't was because of the policy at work. And now, that is just completely gone. It opens the door for Richard and Sutton to be a couple in public. But even though the company is fine with it, Sutton still worries about the perception that it will invoke. She doesn't want to be seen as the woman sleeping her way to the top. Richard may have very little to do with Scarlet other than being an ally on the board for Jacqueline. But he still works within the same company. As such, the perception could still be that he gave special treatment to Sutton in order to advance her career. Her job in the fashion department means so much to her. She doesn't want anything to compromise it. She wants to be celebrated for her own talents. She wants to earn every piece of praise she receives. And throughout this premiere, she continues to prove just why she is the best assistant that Oliver has working for him right now. She is able to stay on top of things while also giving the best styling advice to whomever needs it the most. She doesn't want to jeopardize that for anything. It just puts her at a new impasse with Richard. Yes, they could date now. But she wants to break things off completely because she doesn't want anything getting in the way of her career. Yes, it's a painful decision. But it's one that she feels she needs to make right now. Sure, they may be unable to avoid their true feelings for one another in the long run. But Sutton isn't ready to make that commitment because she is still crippled by how others may perceive her.

Even though Sutton is fighting against the patriarchy and the idea of women being pitted against each other for the job, she still finds herself with her skills questioned because of the opportunities given to her. The other assistants still believe that she is getting preferential treatment because she is sleeping with a man in a position of power in the company. In this case though, it's Alex who they believe is trading sex for styling credits in the magazine. It's not true at all. Nothing more has happened between Sutton and Alex since they were caught in the stairwell by Jacqueline. There doesn't appear to be the desire to explore that romance either. It should be interesting to see if Sutton and Richard actually move on in their love lives or just keep themselves romantically available for the other. But the mere accusation is enough to throw Sutton off completely with her work. Now, this piece about the magazine honoring honorable men who are actually using their platform and privilege to make a difference in the world seems a little lame. It's essentially a puff piece to show that not all men are terrible even though humanity is forced to be more aware of how their actions could be perceived by someone else now. It's important for everyone to stand up and call out abuse and injustices whenever they appear. It just takes awhile for Sutton to get that confidence once more. She is in charge of this photoshoot. She's doing a million things for Oliver including wrangling these regular men who aren't models at all. Of course, all of them could easily be models if they wanted to be. It just takes Sutton a beat to find her talents again and deliver the picture that the magazine needs. She can then turn that passion and excitement into confronting the assistant gossiping about her by saying the fight between them should be based on talent alone. In that regard, Sutton is absolutely crushing it right now.

Meanwhile, Kat returns from her impromptu trip to Peru with Adena. She did this grand romantic gesture in order to prove to Adena just how much she loved her. She didn't know what the consequences would be for her job as she was just promoted as well to the head of the newly created social media department. Fortunately, Jacqueline welcomes her back completely. In fact, it's so rewarding to see Kat have the ability to take the time she needs for herself and still be welcomed back at work by her colleagues who are eager to hear her perspective on things at the magazine. It's thrilling seeing her in this big meeting with the rest of the department heads for the company and be able to surprise the older, white guys on the board who don't really understand the numbers as they are currently playing out for the magazine versus the digital site. Kat brings a fresh perspective to things. She does return recharged as well. She is eager to show Adena off as her girlfriend to the rest of the world. Adena's visa problems have been temporarily fixed. They could still become destructive to this relationship at a moment's notice. But right now, the two of them are allowed to be a couple in America again. Kat wants to celebrate that. And yet, it also forces Adena to be a little insecure. She sees Kat putting all of this attention on the relationship when they are struggling to have intimate conversations about sex. It's empowering to see the show just be so frank about Adena wanting Kat to go down on her but worried that Kat fears that because of the very first interaction they ever had. The two of them are still just getting to know each other and what they like. And yet, it's important to have that conversation as well because it fosters intimacy in a whole new way. It allows them to grow even closer as a couple.

That sets things up perfectly for Kat to introduce Adena to her parents. That could be an intriguing conversation because this is Kat's first experience dating a women. However, the show completely normalizes it by saying it's not a big deal. In fact, it's a milestone that should be celebrated because Kat wants Adena to meet her parents and she was never that close or serious with any man she has ever been with. It just further proves that this is the best relationship for both of them right now. But it continues to force them to confront interesting parts about their identity. Here, Kat doesn't struggle with identifying as queer. Instead, her problem comes from being outspoken as a biracial woman in a position of power at work. Alex makes a compelling point about being proud of her heritage and being able to serve as an inspiration for young girls. That visual would do so much to normalize this kind of power structure so that things are more equal and just in the future. And yet, Kat wants to believe she earned everything she has ever achieved at work because of her merits. She believes race has nothing to do with all that she has achieved. To her, it would feel disingenuous to claim that it is. But that mostly just provokes a conversation about her always feeling incredibly personal and torn about her identity as a biracial woman. If she said that she was either white or black, it would feel like turning her back on one of her parents. She doesn't want to do that. As such, it has become something she has never talked about. Her parents raised her to be independent and have as many opportunities as possible. They built something of their lives to ensure that Kat's was better. They did things the best that they could for her. It still created problems. But the family is able to have a conversation about it. And now, Kat knows she needs to accept her blackness right now because it's the side of her identity that needs to be more outspoken because of the platform she has at a well-regarded magazine.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Feminist Army" was written by Amanda Lasher and directed by Victor Nelli Jr.
  • "Rose Colored Glasses" was written by Wendy Straker Hauser and directed by Victor Nelli Jr.
  • Jane is absolutely right to be upset with Victoria for rewriting her entire article without telling her first. The right thing to do in that position as an editor would be to sit down the author and discuss what the piece needed to become. Instead, it feels like a hijacking where Jane is left dealing with all of the consequences. And yes, that puts her further into the public spotlight. She has the opportunity to speak her mind. But it's also clear that she's not quite ready for that either.
  • Jane also has to change so much of her personality in order to fit in with the culture over at Incite. She has a specific identity and sense of style that she's proud to showcase. She wants to strive to be herself. Incite wants to change her so that she's just the plain Jane speaking for the company about this news story. But Jane can't just sit back and hit the talking points. She needs to explain herself. It's just not surprising when that ultimately costs her this job.
  • A new board seat opens up in the company that controls Scarlet. Richard would love to have Jacqueline working with him at the top floor of this building. And yet, she is too content and happy where she is as the editor at Scarlet. She doesn't want anything to change with her life. Of course, she's happy to hear that a woman CEO was brought in to join the board. That's inclusion that is much needed in that environment. It should just be interesting to see what that relationship becomes.
  • Jane helps Sutton pick out the guys who will be included in this spread for the magazine. She notes all of their credentials while admiring their physical appearances too. And yes, she knows the irony of that statement. But the show is also just setting up a new romance for her with Sutton making sure to introduce her to the doctor who works at a free clinic whom she was ogling over in his profile.
  • Nikohl Boosheri and Stephen Conrad Moore were both promoted to series regulars this season after recurring last year. Those were well deserved promotions as well because both of those characters bring something unique to this world. It also makes it seem likely that Adena will find her way into working alongside more of the Scarlet employees soon. She is looking for work after all in order to extend her visa.