Every industry has been rocked by the rise of digital. None more so than print journalism. With so many shows trying to court or depict a millennial audience, so many fail to resonate with a generation that is quickly evolving. With ABC Family’s recent rebrand to Freeform, they promised to step up their content game. Season one of “The Bold Type” stood out among the freshman crop. More so than before, “The Bold Type” seeks to define itself as a modern day “Mad Men” if women were finally allowed to call the shots in the boardroom. It’s trio of young women face the publishing world from different departments and angles. However, they are united by their drive, determination and friendship. It’s a wholeheartedly positive and affirming show that still manages to deliver stakes, drama and even a salacious plot line or two.
Last we saw these girls in season one, Jane (Katie Stevens) had left Scarlet Magazine, the hot fashion publication the girls worked for, in favor of her own imprint. While at her new job, Jane finds her initial assignment to be harder than she thought once she finds damning facts about her subject. Fresh off a trip with her Iranian photographer/activist girlfriend, Adena El Amin (Nikohl Boosheri), social media director Kat (Aisha Dee) contends with added work pressures and demands of a new relationship. While Kat learns to build a new relationship, Sutton (Meghann Fahy) attempts to squash an old one. Once co-workers start gossiping about her relationship with older board member Richard Hunter (Sam Page), Sutton feels the need to choose between work and love.
Of the three stars, Aisha Dee proves herself to be the one to watch. Her character gets the meatiest of storylines in the initial episodes. Kat’s character deals with latent fears of lesbian sex and racial identity within the first two episodes alone. Dee shines as she crafts a woman who has so much going for her, but so much growing up to do as well. “You’re ready to show me off and introduce me to the world as your girlfriend … but then … You’re not ready to go down on me?” says Adina. Dee conveys Kat’s desire for intimacy as real and earnest. Yet, there’s still this hesitancy to take the plunge and practice what she preaches. “The Bold Type” excels because it leads with a level of frankness it didn’t have with season one.
That’s not to say Stevens and Fahy don’t excel in their roles. Stevens brings a necessary dose of good-natured morals to her role. She attempts to answer where journalistic morals come into question. While Fahy gets less to do on a story level, she remains an energetic and fun presence. Later on in season two, her editor Jacqueline (the exquisite Melora Hardin) remarks that Sutton’s gift is her ability to relate to people. Fahy makes Sutton the life of the party in a way that’s never reductive or easy. As her character climbs up the ropes of the fashion department, hopefully the storylines given to her move further away from her on-again, off-again relationship with Richard.
Shows like “Girls” popularized this notion of millennials as disruptors in satiric, narcissistic and unflattering ways. What’s most revolutionary about “The Bold Type” is how positively it looks upon this latest generation entering the work force. In Season Two’s initial episode, Jane interviews a small business owner who sells organic menstrual cups and donates an equal measure to disenfranchised women. However, those in poorer economic situations don’t have the means to properly use them and end up getting infections. Jane wars between telling the story and ruining this business or supporting this young woman’s budding business idea for the greater good. These conflicts place these characters in interesting work dramas that take their position and expertise seriously.