Tuesday, July 17, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Bold Type' - Jane Makes a Startling Discovery About Sutton That She Doesn't Understand in 'Betsy'

Freeform's The Bold Type - Episode 2.07 "Betsy"

When Jane discovers that Sutton has been hiding a gun in the apartment, the girls realize they have polar opposite views on the subject. Adena shocks Kat with her latest suggestion.

People have strong opinions about guns. It's gotten to the point in our culture where it's even difficult to have a conversation between people with differing views on the subject because we just wish to label the other side as crazy. It's a bunch of yelling and manipulating facts in the hopes that nothing will ever really change. There is so much that unites the country in regards to the subject. But it's still so difficult to actually make meaningful change to ensure that we are as safe as we can possibly be. Instead, it's just a debate that is frequently boiled down to the fear that all guns will be eliminated. The Bold Type wades into the conversation by trying to focus on the nuances of the debate in the modern era while also highlighting the personal feelings of the characters. And yet, it's also the first time where the show is just being too forced with a topical issue in the hopes of getting some profound message across. It's lame and bad how the show introduces so many of the themes and plot points throughout this hour. It's basically saying that people have to have some kind of personal experience with guns in order to have opinions on them. That's Jane and Sutton here. If one's life hasn't been affected either positively or negatively by guns, then we are just like Kat who doesn't really have any opinion based on a lack of information. And yet, it's difficult to think that anyone is actually that inactive on this particular issue. It just permeates throughout our culture in such a huge and glaring way. People are bound to have opinions even if they don't have any connections to guns or the effects of gun violence. As such, the show is trying to simplify things down way too much in this story. It's all basically being done in order to give Jane a huge story for her to write in her grand return to Scarlet. And yet, it also just makes Jane an even more annoying character this season because she refuses to change her mind or back down about her superior beliefs. She is absolutely entitled to her opinions and her reason for being scared of guns is valid. But she's also just a bad journalist throughout this story and basically just tries to psychoanalyze Sutton instead of actually trying to find a way to be fine with her own issues.

All of this starts when Jane finds a locked case in Sutton's closet. She didn't know that her best friend and roommate had a gun in their apartment. Sutton knows that Jane is going to freak out about this discovery as well. That's why she chose to keep it a secret and wants to actively avoid talking about it once the truth does come out. Even when she's talking about the safety precautions she follows in an attempt to get Jane to better understand the reality of the situation, Jane is just refusing to listen. Sutton says that she is the only one who knows the lock to the case and that she doesn't keep any ammunition in the apartment. That's still not enough for Jane. She feels unsafe just knowing that there is a gun in the home where she is suppose to feel safe and relaxed. She won't ever be calm until she knows that it is out of the apartment. Again, all of these points are valid beliefs to have. The show didn't have to provide any more personal connections that better explain why Jane and Sutton feel the way that they do. Sutton's gun is a shotgun largely because the show wants to reveal that Jane was in a school just five miles away from Columbine when that shooting occurred. Those perpetrators used shotguns with their assault. As such, this is a major violation for her even though Sutton presents herself as a very safe and responsible gun owner. She hasn't even taken her gun out to shoot skeet in a long time. That's why she has the gun in the first place. She got into the sport because she grew up in gun country. This was a club made available to her at school that afforded her a place to go to just feel like herself. She was happy and accepted there. As such, she knows how best to handle this weapon while also acknowledging that she doesn't own it with some false sense that she'll use it in the event of a home invasion. She uses it for one particular thing. But even that is too much for Jane to accept.

Of course, Sutton had to realize that it was going to be a massive mistake handing the shotgun over to Jane in the hopes that she will be able to see the thrill that she enjoys so much from it as well. Jane wants to understand the pleasure Sutton gets from this activity. She does go out with her to the range. Kat fires it as well and enjoys it too. But Jane only sees the power and destruction that could come from such a device. It doesn't matter to her that she is only shooting at a moving clay target in a safe and secure environment. She only sees a weapon that could make any situation deadly in an instant. Again, she's not wrong to feel that way. The show just goes overboard in trying to give some grand personal explanation for why she feels like that. It's important that that reflects in her work and that she is called out on it by her friends. Jacqueline seems off this episode as well because she's not the typical editor who is inspiring Jane to do her best work. Instead, she's mostly just telling Jane that she can do better because she has written nuanced articles in the past that were able to respect all perspectives of an issue. Here, she just refuses to see things from Sutton's perspective. And in the end, she goes overboard in trying to explain that Sutton is so reluctant to get rid of her gun because it's a symbol of her being in control with her life. The club meant so much to her in high school because it met on Tuesdays which were the days where her mother was at her absolute worst. As such, she needed that freedom in order to feel in control of her life. She may be using that as an excuse now because she is spinning out about not being able to get Oliver a specific bag for a photoshoot. But again, it's a lot of Jane just talking at Sutton instead of trying to start an actual conversation in the hopes of better understanding one another. It again all circles back to there being a reason why the two have strong feelings about guns. There didn't need to be some profound explanation. In fact, this conversation would have been much more nuanced and engaging if it didn't spend so much time trying to explain why the characters feel the way they do. The audience lives in the world too. We know that the issue is very heated and polarizing at the moment.

All of this still ends with Jane ultimately winning and celebrating with her best friends. She was able to crack the puzzle of Sutton's dependence on this weapon. Her being able to share that means that Sutton no longer needs to keep it in her life. That is just such a forced ending that makes all of this seem too simple. Yes, the show needed to provide some sense of resolution to this story by the end of the hour. It does so with the indication that it will never come up again because Sutton is donating her shotgun to a place that transforms weapons into other items that can be used as decorations. She does so as symbol to Jane that she cares about their friendship and ensuring that she feels safe and secure in her life. But Jane doesn't really reciprocate those feelings. She is just trying to solve Sutton's problems and emotions. That's not really the sign of a true and genuine friend. The show tries playing it as such. It still ends with Jane, Sutton and Kat embracing and enjoying working together once more. They have each other's backs no matter what. But this story still prioritized Jane above all else. It is able to call her out in some regards. But it's not enough to make this an effective story. It's certainly not enough to suggest that she is going to deliver a hit article for Scarlet. Jacqueline was mostly just intrigued by the title in the hopes of luring the readers in with striking and bold content. Scarlet is still proving itself as a risk-taker willing to have these conversations. Jacqueline is there to push Jane in the right direction. But it still doesn't feel like this is going to be a stellar piece of writing from Jane. With that being the basis of her character, that's something incredibly damaging to be lacking here.

Meanwhile, Adena has a proposal for Kat about how best to deal with her growing sexual curiosity. She wants Kat to be free to explore sex with other women. She doesn't want to hold her back in that regard even though she doesn't want to lose their connection either. She wants Kat to have the freedom to explore and figure out what she actually likes. That will only strengthen their relationship in the long run. It's just difficult to talk about and actually do now because it runs the risk of more personal feelings coming into this relationship and potentially destroying them. Adena understands that this is important though. She accepts that this is something that Kat needs to do. She doesn't want to be the one holding her back. But it's still nerve-wrecking for Kat because she doesn't know how to actually go about doing this. She just wants to meet women out in real life instead of falling for the fantasies we present online. As the head of the social media department, she understands how to sell the best possible version of oneself. It's all about presenting that picture perfect identity. She knows that's not the true reality underneath the surface. She still is able to make a connection though. It comes from a ride-sharing app of all places. She is able to go home with a woman and realize that she actually likes being dominant in bed as well. She has always been very certain about what she wants in her life. But here, she is testing to see just what she enjoys in the most intimate setting. Plus, it's fascinating to see her have that final conversation with Adena where she wants to talk to her about what she has learned about herself without intending to make her jealous about the other sex she has been having. It's that moment that is key. It shows that the connection they have is still something that they wish to maintain throughout all of this.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Betsy" was written by Matt McGuinness and directed by Marta Cunningham.
  • Even though the season has largely been about Jane growing after leaving Scarlet and getting fired from Incite, she still expects everything to be the same as it was when she returns to Scarlet. She is completely thrown when she doesn't get her old desk back and is basically throwing a hissy fit about it. She understands why Jacqueline wants her to work elsewhere. She wants to encourage a fresh perspective. But it still takes too long for that to dawn on Jane.
  • It's intriguing that Ryan fills the role of encouraging friend and somewhat love interest to Jane who is able to call her out for not actually trying to understand Sutton's differing thoughts on guns. That's the role that should be filled by Ben, her actual boyfriend. Instead, she is right back in the coffee shop with Ryan who proves himself to be very honest and forthcoming with her while also saying he doesn't have friendships like she does with Kat and Sutton.
  • Brooke is essentially out of Sutton's life right now. She didn't appreciate just being blown off by her. As such, that proves that she isn't really a genuine person or friend at all. She was just using Sutton as someone to party with. Once she stopped giving her that, there was no desire to actually hang out with Sutton again. Of course, that's a lifestyle that is bound to turn quite chaotic and destructive for Brooke in the future. She's essentially pushing people away because she doesn't want to be real with them.
  • As such, it seems like Sutton has lost out on all of the industry connections she was making while being friends with Brooke. Apparently, Brooke still has the influence to get everyone she is still friends with to turn on Sutton. She turned her back on her. And now, she is doing the same exact thing. It just means Sutton is growing more and more furious because she isn't getting this bag for Oliver. She worries about what it will mean for her job considering she is usually so on top of things.
  • It's a little strange to see Oliver be so welcoming to Jane coming back to Scarlet. The two of them never really had much of a dynamic last season. That mostly just shows that this is still an office space where most of the people know each other and what they do for this company. Plus, it's significant to see him be a kind and inspiring boss when it comes to giving Sutton the pep talk that they are a team that will solve problems together instead of freaking out at the last minute.