The ladies of The Bold Type.
There are several reasons to hate The Bold Type, Freeform’s new series about three young women working at a Cosmopolitan-like magazine in New York City. You have probably seen the promos that show the trendy, diverse group of gals screaming at a passing subway train. (Because it’s cathartic, not because they are protesting the current state of the MTA.) Then there’s the grating pun of a name. (These ladies are … the bold type.) Before I sat down to watch the first two episodes, I was convinced the show would be another silly depiction of women in media, and, more egregiously, a syrupy, sideways knockoff of Younger, which is actually funny and perfect.
I was correct. The Bold Type is silly, syrupy, and derivative (there are strong echoes of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and of course, Sex and the City), but it is also entertaining, and I love it. By the end of the pilot episode, I was crying, in spite of myself, at a hokey, feminist-lite speech delivered by the warm and inspirational editor-in-chief character, played by Melora Hardin. (The Bold Type is loosely based on the experiences of former Cosmo editor-in-chief Joanna Coles, and Coles is an executive producer.)
Despite its rosy portrayal of life at a magazine (the EIC has enough free time to personally mentor several junior staffers, for example), The Bold Type has everything you’d want in a soapy, summer show. Feel-good female camaraderie. Hot guys who conveniently work in the magazine building (including Sam Page from Mad Men). Cool apartments. There’s also some light discussion of sex, which is fine.
To get to the good stuff, you have to sit through the necessary setup at the top of the pilot. During these moderately horrific 15 minutes, we learn that the show will follow three women at the fictional Scarlet magazine as they climb the career ladder and (duh) navigate inappropriate romantic relationships with their male superiors. One of the women is a social-media expert who wants to change the world, another is a floundering assistant who’s sleeping with an executive on the board, and the third is an aspiring writer who’s about to get her first big assignment at the magazine. When the three of them arrive at work in the first scene, the writer reminds the others unironically that, “Joan Didion walked through this very same lobby once. And Meghan Daum. And Rachel Syme!”
The comparison, which Syme shared on Instagram, is startling, but if you can get past it, you will be rewarded. My favorite scene so far is one in the second episode, where the writer character decides, at a photography exhibition populated by her co-workers, that she is going to totally kiss her rival at the men’s magazine in front of everyone.
I have but one concern going forward. Though the first two episodes were appropriately divorced from the news cycle, show creator Sarah Watson told Variety yesterday that The Bold Type will address Trump this season. Do all shows have to do that now? Address Trump? I hope, for the sake of the show, that Watson changes her mind, because that sort of realism would ruin a silly, great thing.