Tuesday, July 3, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Bold Type' - Jane Is Frustrated After Kat Calls Out Her White Privilege in 'Stride of Pride'

Freeform's The Bold Type - Episode 2.05 "Stride of Pride"

Kat is excited by a potential addition to her department, but when the board's corporate policy prevents her from offering the job, she decides to challenge the status quo in the hopes of championing new voices. Jane finds a job posting she thinks she'd be perfect for, but her response to the job sparks a difficult conversation with Kat about privilege. Sutton is enjoying her single life until she discovers something surprising about her latest fling.

Hasn't Jane been the absolute worst this season? "Stride of Pride" hopes to have a conversation about privilege as it pertains to her search for a new job. The other characters - specifically Kat - are right to call out Jane for wanting to have morals when they best suit her while also playing the victim for when she doesn't get noticed for her talents. This has been a fascinating season for Jane so far. She keeps expecting the world to be aware that she is perfect as a writer. And yet, she is far from that. She's just constantly surprised by the ways this business actually works. In fact, it feels like all of this is being done so that she learns some grand lesson before making her way back to Scarlet. She can't just see her past success as the excuse that she deserves to be in the room. Yes, it is very beneficial to have that experience on the job. But that's no guarantee that she is the best when it comes to other outlets making their staffing decisions. Jacqueline wanted Jane to use this time in order to better hone in on her voice. She needed to fail in order to understand that the actions that she takes in this world are going to have consequences to them. Of course, she's still frustrated and has such millennial reactions to everything. She is lashing out at the world for not recognizing her. She wants to play the sympathy of her friends by saying that she can't afford to get sick or injured right now. The show wants the audience to see her in a sympathetic light as well because her computer is now breaking on her. She doesn't have the money to actually make these improvements to her life. It's very much a condemnation of the work of a freelancer. It's not a form of writing that Jane aspires to be in for very long. She loves the structure of a work place. She wants to be back in the newsroom pitching stories with the guarantee that she will get paid no matter what she writes for her employer. But she also has to understand that different outlets of the media require different things from her. She only had moral objectives to the gossip columns because she didn't want to be a despicable person who broke up a happy family. And yet, that's a fundamental misunderstanding of who's really to blame in that situation while also demeaning that line of work. Yes, there are plenty of reasons to be critical of people who write those gossip stories not caring about the people whose lives they affect. But the moral objections she had to that story weren't as high and mighty as she would like to believe they were. In fact, that story only further highlighted how she wants to be contained in her own safe bubble and doesn't want to be challenged by the demands of the world.

Once again, Jane rises a moral objection to a new potential job opportunity. She believes she has a fantastic and perfect interview for a job at Yes, Girl. It's an outlet that seems a whole lot like Scarlet. The editor appreciates the recent piece about religion that Jane wrote while also loving the light, fluffy stuff Jane is also capable of pitching. Jane believes that she is a shoe-in for this position because of just how quickly she and the boss bonded. But Ryan calls later that night to say that she isn't getting the position because the company is hoping for more of a diversity push in its hiring this year. Of course, it's absolutely wrong for Ryan to say that as a potential explanation for Jane to then immediately latch onto. It's a convenient excuse that allows the company to be blamed instead of the inferior work being offered by the one interviewing for the job. Jane wants to believe she wasn't offered this job because she was white. That's what all of this boils down to. As such, it's important for Kat to step up and speak her mind about how wrong Jane is acting right now. As friends, Kat knows that Jane isn't racist. But there are so many ways that racism can inform our daily interactions as well. It's a good thing that Yes, Girl is creating opportunities for people of color who have never had that potential before. It's a chance for new voices to be found and given importance in the world. There is nothing bad about that. In fact, it's very inspiring while proving that these companies are capable of growth. It also means Jane has to step up her game to actually get noticed and appreciated. She believes she's already perfect. This story seems to be cutting her down in an attempt to humble her. She is used to her white privilege creating new opportunities for her. As such, it leaves her with blinders on when it's suggested that people of color actually had better interviews and were even more impressive than her. She can't just assume that a person was hired for the color of their skin. She needs to be aware that the best person should be hired for job. The talent pool should be diverse and that will allow for even more healthy competition that will force everyone to work harder to improve their work.

All of that is very enlightening for Jane. And yet, it's simply more effective watching Kat actually being the agent for change at Scarlet. She is actually in a position of power where she can shake up the way that the company has always managed things. She is given a pile of applications that all look exactly the same. Oliver points out to her that this stack of individuals are those who know how to work the system. They are the ones who will conform to the status quo. As such, everyone looks identical to one another. There is no reason to trust that any of them will stand out. If Kat wants to shake up the department in order to send Scarlet into the future, then she will need to be more creative in how she discovers and fosters new talent. She does so mostly by asking for those interested in the job on Twitter. It's perhaps too simple of a process. But it also opens the door for anyone to apply. It doesn't need to be someone with connections who can get themselves and their expertise in front of Kat. She wants to be more inventive than that. It appears as if this gambit only produces one viable candidate though. And yet, Kat is so inspired and passionate about hiring Angie. She is the type of person Kat wants to be working with every day. She wants to surround herself with new voices that she wants to cherish and support just like Jacqueline has done throughout Scarlet. She wants to be just as inspirational as her. She's not desperate for her approval. She knows the importance of getting Angie on her team. And so, she simply fights for it. She goes after what she believes is right in order to provide Scarlet with creative new voices. She understands that some of the most talented people in the world didn't finish or go to college. She doesn't see that as a deal breaker for this job especially once the numbers are allowed to be discussed. Kat fights for Angie because of her strong opinions and social media statistics. And in the end, she prevails in this fight and is welcomed amongst her peers.

Kat succeeding at work like this is so empowering that it makes it so completely baffling that she seems to be taking quite a turn in her personal life. It's just such a weird and random story that is introduced very suddenly. Kat and Adena's relationship has been the most romantic and essential in the entire show. They are the couple that everyone should aspire to become. The fans obviously ship them together. And so, it's weird that Kat is now having this sexual fantasy about one of Adena's friends, Leila. It's so awkward and formulaic. It doesn't feel as special and groundbreaking as the rest of the stories on the show are. It just feels like personal drama created to give a sense of tension in the plot. Moreover, it's oddly explained why Kat and Leila are forced together in the first place. It's explained that Adena is gone for the week because she is working on a project upstate. Kat innocently runs into Leila at a karaoke bar. Leila says that Adena promised she could borrow her tripod. Kat says she can come pick it up any time over the next few days. All of this seems to suggest that Kat and Adena still may not be communicating honestly with one another even though they just professed their love to each other. If Adena knew that she was going away and Leila needed this tripod, why didn't she mention it to Kat so that she would be aware of it during this time? Conversely, why doesn't Kat check in with Adena to make sure that she gave permission for Leila to have this tripod? None of that seems to occur. Instead, it's mostly just an excuse for Kat and Leila to grow closer without Adena being anywhere near them. It doesn't and shouldn't go any further than it goes here. And yet, the show does the fake out of the two of them kissing until Kat wakes up from a dream. That shows that she's not a cheater just yet. But the show using that deception basically proves that it's about to become more complicated. However, it's just too lame and familiar to be all that exciting.

Meanwhile, it's also random for Sutton to start the episode off waking up next to a total stranger. It's clear that she has just had a one night stand. It's a moment that should mostly be about Jane and Kat helping her get to work quickly while also being proud of her appearance when needing to pitch something to Oliver. That could be it as she continues to focus on work and impressing her peers with her style. She could further flesh out this idea and sell it even more to Oliver. Instead, it's a story about her personal drama where she quickly learns that this guy she slept with is actually married. She doesn't want to be the other woman who breaks up a marriage. And yet, she also feels a personal responsibility to tell the wife that the man she is married to is actually pretty despicable. It's a situation so similar to the dilemma that Jane had last week writing for the gossip column. Except here, Sutton is actually a part of the drama. She is personally invested. As such, she has to make a decision. She can't just run away from it completely like Jane did in the hopes that it will all stay quiet. Sutton needs to stand up and do something. It's also just a powerful story about women supporting and believing other women. Too often stories like this pit women against each other. This show is so smart because it understands that women are complex individuals who have such nuanced interactions with one another. Yes, there is reason for the wife to be angry with Sutton. But she should direct that anger to her husband who actually deserves it. Sutton does the right thing even though she's conditioned to fear what the response could possibly be. It only sends her spiraling further in her personal life as well because she yearns for having a deeper connection with a man once more.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Stride of Pride" was written by Michelle A. Badillo & Caroline Levich and directed by Anna Mastro.
  • It's fantastic that Kat is interacting with Oliver and Richard this week. Those two characters almost exclusively interacted with Sutton last season. Those relationships are still important as well. But Kat is their peer now too. As such, it's fascinating to see them form dynamics. Kat sees Richard as a legal contact who is an ally on the board. She hopes to have the same relationship with him that Jacqueline has.
  • It's also so great that the show is able to produce a scene between Kat, Alex and Oliver where they talk about the black experience in this workplace while discussing the ways to improve inclusion in the hiring process. This is something the show can do because it doesn't just have a token character of color. It has something close to equality regarding race and gender amongst its series regular cast. As such, it has to use that to its benefit to tell a genuine conversation about this topic.
  • Last week I wondered what Ryan would take away from Jane's attack on him. Would he actually change? Or would he see that she doesn't have the right perspective on this issue? The story didn't run but it wasn't because of Ryan having moral objections to it. It just couldn't pass the legal department. That's another way for Jane to be removed from the process of sending that story out into the world. But that interaction also inspired Ryan to actually write more moving forward like he said he was.
  • It's crazy that Kat goes to Sutton first before even thinking about Jane to possibly cover for Angie at her job so that she can come to this meeting with the board. In fact, Kat doesn't even ask this of Jane. Instead, Sutton comes up with that obvious solution. That shows that Kat may have been preoccupied with everything else going on in this story to realize that Jane can still be of service in order to change policy at Scarlet.
  • Jane complains that she is one paycheck away from being broke or one accident away from being completely destroyed. And yes, those realities do have to set in and make Jane very worried about her future. But she's also doing pretty well because she has a boyfriend that seems to be developing into something serious. After all, she did write a piece about her relationship with religion because of a conversation they had.