Tuesday, April 23, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Bold Type' - Alex Analyzes His Past While Kat and Sutton Explore New Futures in 'Stroke of Genius'

Freeform's The Bold Type - Episode 3.03 "Stroke of Genius"

With Jane's egg extraction on the horizon, she can't wait to have sex again and challenges herself to be less "vanilla" and more "rocky road" in the bedroom. Alex examines his dating life in a piece for Scarlet digital when he realizes he was the subject behind a #MeToo story. Fed up after realizing her councilman doesn't have his city's best interests at heart, Kat decides to channel her passion by volunteering for his opposition. Sutton considers a career shift into fashion design but debates how to break the news to Oliver.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Freeform's The Bold Type.

"Stroke of Genius" was written by Neel Shah and directed by Jamie Travis

This season has clearly been interested in expanding the worlds of the supporting characters. As such, Jacqueline has been clashing with Patrick as they try to avoid stepping on each other's toes while proving their own worth to the company. Plus, Oliver is working with an adoption agent to become a legal guardian for a kid he loves so much. And now, Alex is given a substantial story. It's more significant than any previous story that has featured him. He has usually functioned as the best friend who offers advice or goes on adventures with the three main characters. He helps flesh out the Scarlet office. He just hasn't had his own personal agency. Here though, he is given the opportunity to have an important conversation about the #MeToo era and his own personal need for redemption. He's ashamed to be called out for pushing a girl to have sex with him when she wasn't comfortable with that. He asks the right questions while still being respectful as well. He has already been having these conversations in private about how the behavior for men needs to change. And yet, there is still a reluctance to talk about it in a public setting because the social media age has led to the rise of outrage culture. Now, that isn't inherently bad. Some people do need to be shamed for their behavior. Social media can bring together large swaths of people around a shared connection. These conversations may only be happening in the first place because of how connected the world has become. But there still needs to be that conversation about redemption. Alex doesn't deny what happened in his past. He doesn't accuse the woman of making up her own story to sensationalize the regrets she felt afterwards. Instead, he examines his life and choices. He understands that he has grown and needs to continue doing so. He has walked around with privilege because he was sending signals that he didn't understand. He has to be held accountable for that. He feels torn about whether or not he should publish this piece about this experience. That highlights the difference between Jacqueline and Patrick as leaders. Patrick is looking for constant and engaging content. He is eager to read as many stories from his writers as possible to get them out to the world. Jacqueline is supportive and looks out for the best interests of her team. She understands the weight of this decision that is being placed on Alex. He fears he'll lose his job because of outrage culture. Jacqueline encourages him that his job will be secure. She will stand by his side no matter what happens if he chooses to publish. Patrick doesn't have that conversation with his writer. Of course, Alex goes to Jacqueline because he instinctively trusts her. She gives him the clarity he needs to feel confident in publishing. And yet, he is walking into a minefield where all of the comments online turn against him even though in private he is celebrated as an ally. That too highlights the disconnect from online and reality. Alex sees the importance of this conversation and hopes he has articulated his point well. But there's no guarantee that the reader will walk away with the same understanding and be willing to support his path of redemption as well.

Alex's story is the only one that really works here too. In addition to expanding the lives of the supporting characters, the season also wants to shake up the professional lives for everyone. In fact, Jane is the only person who presents as stable at the moment. Sure, there was some tension over her working exclusively for Scarlet digital because that's where Patrick wanted her to be. That has mostly gone away though. The same goes to any concern about Alex having a column despite how formulaic that seems for this publication. Jane has some drama in her life as it pertains to feeling comfortable watching porn and experimenting more in the bedroom with Ryan. That mostly feels like comic relief for the other stories happening here. Sure, it's also sexy. But it's mostly keeping those characters busy for now because their lives are stable even though she is freezing her eggs as a preventive measure. Elsewhere, it's so difficult to get a reading on what is going on in Kat's life. It's understandable and relatable that she feels the impulse to be more politically vocal and active. That's something so many young adults have felt over the last few years. It's the most politically minded story of the series so far. But it's all revolving around the idea that people would support Kat running for city council. That just seems like an odd and jarring career switch for her after building up her own success at Scarlet. She is a department head. The campaign she volunteers for is so glad to have her skills to form a better message for their candidate. But it's mostly a story that highlights how charisma is better than policy ideas when it comes to politics. That's insanely depressing. It too is very timely as the world is gearing up for an intense presidential campaign cycle where some candidates are focusing on the charm while others are releasing detailed policy ideas. The best candidate is actually one who can manage both identities. Kat is definitely more charming than the lifeless public servant running for the job. It's just crazy to think she will make such a drastic and sudden change to her life. She has never wanted this before and the only substance to her big speech is encouraging people to go out and vote. She will have to do so much more if she is hoping to win and actually do the job. And finally, Sutton is insanely lucky that things continue to work out for her here. She should realistically get into a lot of trouble for redesigning the featured dress of the photo shoot. She only sees the immediate problem and needing to deliver the pictures according to schedule. She doesn't see all of the consequences of her actions that could completely shut down production on this piece of clothing that was hoping to increase sales because of this spotlight. It's mostly the show articulating that she would be better as a designer than aspiring for Oliver's job. That won't change her status at Scarlet as much as Kat running for city council would. But it's still an outrageous way to introduce this idea while ensuring it's still treated as no big deal whatsoever.