Tuesday, July 24, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Bold Type' - Jane Has to Make a Serious Decision About Her Future in 'Plan B'

Freeform's The Bold Type - Episode 2.08 "Plan B"

After an intimate moment mishap with Ben, Jane evaluates if motherhood is in her future because of her BRCA gene mutation. Kat is eager to flaunt her social media influence by partnering with a beauty brand that offers her an opportunity to be their spokesperson. Sutton makes her first major fashion department decision without Oliver.

It's important that The Bold Type has an ongoing conversation about what it means for Jane to test positive for the BRCA gene mutation. It's a story that isn't really being talked about anywhere else on television. As such, it affords the show the opportunity to strive for more authenticity and uniqueness with Jane. Her story this season has been a little all over the map. The show definitely wants the audience to empathize and sympathize with all three of the main characters. But it's been difficult with Jane because she is just so judgmental and opinionated without wanting to actually listen to the advice or thoughts of her friends. She is still growing as a human being aware of the world and its various nuances. But it's definitely been more difficult to be engaged by her as a character this season. That's a struggle because Kat and Sutton are both amazing and unique characters. They are much easier to watch. And now, the show tries to pivot the conversation around Jane back to this medical issue for her. It was a powerful story last season when she tested positive for this genetic mutation that makes it highly likely that she will develop breast cancer just like her mother did. It's a diagnosis that absolutely terrifies her because it comprises all of the memories she really has about her mother. Her mom died young and Jane believes that's the same fate that is awaiting her. So much of her life has been shaped by this relationship. Jane didn't want to know about the results and criticized anyone who took preventative action against a condition that they may not even develop. She quickly learned that it's better to be armed with knowledge and the awareness that this is just a simple reality for her. It's still not something she likes to talk about. She is putting in all of the work in order to monitor her health closely. But she's also completely surprised when she learns that there is more to this than what she initially believed. She thought she could just go in for the screenings every few month until the results actually produced something. Instead, she is learning that she may be on a more accelerated timetable when it comes to a number of huge decisions she has to make about her life.

All of this eventually revolves around whether the main characters want children. There is definitely similarities in this debate to last week's conversation about guns. Two of the characters have strong opinions on the subject and aren't going to change no matter what. And then, the third doesn't exactly know what she wants. She isn't armed with enough knowledge yet. The characters with these beliefs are different than the ones from a week ago. So, Sutton wants kids to prove that she can be a great mom despite her own upbringing. Kat doesn't want children because of the various environmental concerns. And Jane doesn't know what to think. She sees it as the potential to ruin so much of the plan she has already laid out for her life. She has goals she wishes to meet. She has a trajectory for her career that she wants to stick to. She has made it back to Scarlet and is once again impressing Jacqueline with her work. She wants to keep doing that. This is a solid job for her. And now, she wonders if all of that will be ruined if she has a child. She definitely wants to put in the work to research what it's actually like for people in their twenties to actually have children. The testimonials that she gets mostly revolve around it being difficult but being able to rely on friends and family for support. That's the clarity that Jane receives. But it's certainly not enough for her to have a well-informed opinion on the subject. It just makes her more paranoid because she is making a lasting decision for her life. She has to know with certainty on this subject right now because she doesn't know what the future will bring for her. That's absolutely daunting and showcases just how strong some of the relationships in her life are.

Jacqueline is very supportive of Jane as she pitches this story about women in their twenties having children. The show is definitely able to find a positive spin on it even though the take of treating babies as accessories is absolutely horrible. Jane is given a number of different angles and opportunities she could explore this story with. And yet, she is blocked throughout the entire process because she simply doesn't know what to think. She doesn't know what decision she is going to make for her life. Her opening up to Jacqueline about that is very moving. It shows once again that Jacqueline is a very supportive boss who is nurturing and understanding of her employees first and foremost. In the end, she doesn't care about the article. She wants to help Jane through this difficult decision so that she's ultimately happy with her life. She understands that employees who feel compelled to share about their lives are ones who actually trust the business. Jane didn't want to talk about being positive for this mutation. She was taking the steps to be healthy. But that was something she was doing herself. She didn't want it to seep into her life whatsoever. She still wanted to be a good writer and friend despite all of this. And now, she has to decide if she wants to get pregnant or freeze her eggs. She doesn't know what she wants and Ben isn't helpful at all. In fact, this seems like an indication that this relationship isn't going to last. He approaches the entire subject as a doctor and not as Jane's boyfriend. The two of them are finally comfortable using labels to describe their relationship. Jane trusts him so much in order to even share this news with him. And yet, he still doesn't have a great reaction to it. He simply knows too much and isn't able to empathize with the struggle that Jane is currently going through. The two of them returning to their game of Scrabble instead of talking basically proves that things are going to remain awkward and tense between them moving forward.

Of course, there's no answer really given to this central issue for Jane either. That's fascinating. It may prove that this will continue being an ongoing conversation with her this season. Or it could also just be the show revealing that the true focus is actually on Jane and her relationship with her mother. The gun debate episode was so awkward and derivative because the show tried to boil everything down to a simple analysis of the characters and the reasons why they believed the way they did. Sutton changed and everything was alright because Jane understood her better than she understood herself. And now, the same is somewhat true here. Kat basically says that she is psychoanalyzing Jane just like her parents do to millions of patients every year. She says that Jane is so torn and unsure when it comes to children because she was missing such a vital relationship from her life. She grew up without a mom. That leads to this whole revelation that Jane has no real memories of her mother before she got sick. She remembers the tragedy of being in the hospital watching her mother succumb to this disease. But she yearns for what their relationship was like before that. Those are the memories she wishes she has but doesn't. As such, the easy solution to all of this would simply be to call a relative so that they can provide clarity as to what Jane's mother was actually like. That will, in turn, provide Jane with the answers she seeks regarding children. That's what ultimately occurs as well. She is able to talk with her brother on the phone and reminiscence about all the good memories they have about their mother. It's a sweet moment to end this story on. But again, it doesn't provide a whole lot of clarity for the central question that Jane has been asking either. It just provides her with more clarity on what her mother was like.

Elsewhere, Kat is given a great opportunity by Cleo to become a public spokesperson for a very progressive skincare brand. Everyone is interested in her because she has done such a terrific job in revitalizing the social media attention for the magazine. Of course, that's not really the reason why the company is interested in hiring her. Instead, they want Kat because she's a queer black women. They want to use her as a prop they can point to once their CEO is called out for being a racist who supports anti-LGBT organizations. Kat isn't interested in being some prop. And yet, it's a fascinating story for her because she signed a contract and must abide by what she has agreed to do for this company. She is able to put her own spin on it. She is able to hit all of the talking points she was required to share. Then, she pivots the conversation around to her being used as a prop and how she doesn't believe that to be okay. It's inspiring and powerful. It also feels very impulsive of her. The audience and characters understand that Kat isn't going to do something she doesn't support completely. She couldn't just smile her way through this endorsement. She was going to speak up. It's just surprising that she doesn't consult Jacqueline when things become more complicated. Jacqueline has always made herself available as a boss who is willing to help her employees get through these difficult moments in their careers. Jacqueline is the one who comes up with the final solution and is more than comfortable criticizing Cleo for getting Kat into this mess to begin with. But all of this does inspire Kat to actually look out into the world to see if there's a brand and company that is actually worth her investing in. If one company was willing to pay her to be a spokesperson, then there has to be some other company out there that stands for the same values that she does. As such, it's worth exploring that option because it could lead to bigger and better things for her.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Plan B" was written by Becky Hartman Edwards and directed by Marta Cunningham.
  • Sutton finds herself having to cut ten percent out of the budget for the entire fashion department for the week just so the magazine can send people to cover Fashion Week in Paris. Oliver is already in Europe so the time difference is keeping the two of them from actually communicating. So, Sutton does find herself in trouble a couple of times because of what she has agreed to do for Jacqueline. And yet, she still ultimately makes it work as well.
  • Of course, Sutton's whole story revolves around her and her friends being able to go to a flea market and find all of the items they need to turn a studio into the bar that holds personal significance to Oliver. She is able to stretch money far in regards to her purchases. And yet, it still seems magical that the three of them are able to pull all of this together and recreate the set in just one night.
  • All of this is capped by Sutton getting the news that she will be going to Fashion week in Paris as well. That's a huge deal for her. It's enough to make her jump for joy while also afraid that she's about to throw up. It's all the proof that she needs that she is doing a great job for Oliver. It's still going to be a lot of work in the city. She's not simply going for a vacation. But it's going to be such a life-changing experience for her as well.
  • It's nice to see Ryan get to interact with characters beyond Jane as well. So many of his appearances have been told through his relationship with Jane - whether as a love interest or just a friend. He is still a friend here. But he's the one who holds the door open for Kat and lets her know about the bombshell expos√© that is coming shortly about the company she has now agreed to work for.
  • The audience actually gets to hear the conversation that Jane is having with her brother. So, the show cast someone for that role. Will that someone actually appear sometime in the future? Or will he just be heard in this moment on the phone? The show has delved more into the backstories and upbringings of the characters this year. But it's still so meaningful when a family member actually shows up in their lives.