Thursday, February 13, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Bold Type' - Kat Fights for Stories About Female Sexual Pleasure to Be Heard in 'Babes in Toyland'

Freeform's The Bold Type - Episode 4.04 "Babes in Toyland"

Jane volunteers to write a story about a sex club in hopes of proving she is ready for the next step in her career. Kat's latest crusade to save a female-oriented sex toy company could lead her to begin dating again. Sutton has doubts about how to kick off her plan to get promoted. Alex struggles with his new platform at Scarlet.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides 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.

"Babes in Toyland" was written by Chase Baxter & Nikita T. Hamilton and directed by Kimberly McCullough

How many times is the show going to tell a story about Jane going out of her comfort zone in order to write a piece for Scarlet? There are numerous stories that follow that same basic premise in every season. At one point, it could have been refreshing. It showed how Jacqueline pushed her writers to be their very first. She wanted them to expand their horizons. She still comes across as an incredible boss. She checks in with Kat here to see if she is taking some time for her personal life as well and not just filling her time advocating for others. That's so meaningful. At the top of the hour, Kat and Sutton believe they have to stage an intervention with Jane because Alex warns them about what has been going on between her and Ryan. He has gotten pulled into their lowkey evenings of beauty care and relaxation. That is absolutely necessary in order to have a full and rewarding life. Here, it is positioned as a crutch so Jane and Ryan can avoid talking about what their relationship has become. And yet, it's difficult to really be invested in any of this. The show tells the audience to buy into them as a couple. They have been stable for a couple of seasons now. As such, new obstacles always have to pop up. This season has been very centered on their sexual dynamic. It's awkward because of the uncertain feelings about him kissing someone else. This episode follows the expected plot beat of Jane thinking she has to kiss another guy in order to even the score. That is horrible advice that seems like it will backfire because that's the way the story always goes. It doesn't. But it doesn't feel like a significant development or enlightenment either. It's just something that Jane does. There isn't much passion in anything that she is doing. She is excited to approach Jacqueline and ask for her own vertical on the digital platform. She sees that as the vital next step for her work as a writer for Scarlet. Jacqueline warns her of the demands that position will require. Jane feels ready for it. But again, the show wants her to have a simple and fun life too. She doesn't always have to be fighting for the critical stories that could change the world or how people are perceived. She can write fluff pieces as well. That's why she is given this assignment in the first place. But again, it follows the pattern that has been done way too many times on the show so far. Jane is a person who loves her confined life. She worries whenever she is asked to expand her horizons. It's awkward for her to be at a sex club. She eventually gets confident and overcomes her intimacy problems with Ryan almost by force. That is startling to watch. It's her taking control over the situation. That extends from this being an hour about female sexual power and pleasure. It's a passion for Kat. She wants to ensure that the world sees those stories and empowers them. She is inspired by a billboard being rejected for a vibrator company. She sees the hypocrisy. She doesn't always know how to best respond to it. But she eventually finds the right story that allows her to amplify what it means to be a women and to wield sexual pleasure for oneself. That is a unique story that is unfortunately relegated to being the B-plot. That's too bad because it's much more specific than anything else currently happening. Elsewhere, Alex freaks out about doing his "Ask Alex" segment live. That shows how the business is changing this season. But it still ultimately pivots around these colleagues having fun together. The world just gets to experience it alongside them. Meanwhile, Sutton worries about how she presents herself on social media when she feels torn between two worlds herself. And yet, that's what makes her such a fun and vibrant character. It's great that she has a friend who sees that no matter what. But again, it feels like this hour delights in the gimmick of the vibrator a little too much without putting into context how these women are taking charge of their lives. That's unfortunate because it plays as a story that could empower so many. It's a fun message that doesn't go quite as deep as it should.