Panagiotis Pantazidis / Freeform
Like most shows and films about people who work in journalism, The Bold Type (which just wrapped up its third season on FreeForm this week) presents the same aesthetic of delightful but unrealistic glamour in the vein of How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, 13 Going on 30 and The Hills. The show focuses on three female Millennial staffers at a magazine called Scarlet (based on Cosmopolitan) and the adventures they embark on as they experience “the real world.”
From the wardrobes of the three main female 20-something characters ( which have been obsessively covered by the press for their rather eclectic sartorial choices. Hey, if you can pull off a ruffled neck blouse with overalls in midtown Manhattan then more power to you) to their ability to not only afford Ubers to take them everywhere (but also transcend space and time while doing so) to their abuse of the office fashion closet there are definitely some improbable details on the show.
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After all, in one episode they basically solved the gun crisis and at least 40 minutes of the episode took place in a karaoke bar. But, despite some of the plotlines the show actually portrays one of the most accurate depictions of the Millennial workforce. From the inclusion of the power of social media to addressing topical movements including #MeToo, race identity, and the death of print journalism (could they have said dot.com more this season?), The Bold Type is a show to be considered to help you work next to, mentor, and just try to comprehend Millennials. Ladders spoke with showrunner for The Bold Type Amanda Lasher (since this interview it was announced that Lasher will be replaced by Wendy Straker Hauser for Season 4) about how the series has captured the Millennial essence so accurately.
Everyone was once a 20-something
Well, it definitely helps that Lasher has worked as a producer on some of the most captivating and exciting (and not to mention juicy) depictions of youth culture in TV in the last decade including Gossip Girl and Riverdale. But how do you execute that Millennial voice and mindset (and social media obsession) in the span of a 42-minute episode when you aren’t a Millennial? Lasher told Ladders, “We have millennials on staff obviously. That is one way we have the millennial voice in the room and we talk to the actors ( Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee, Meghann Fahy) a lot in all honesty. Aisha and Katie and Megan are all really young women who have really thoughtful and important input. We would just talk and pull from things that came up in conversation.”
However, Lasher smartly points out that even if you were never a Millennial, you were once a young, somewhat perplexed 20-something trying to navigate your career. “We’ve all been at that stage in our lives. Being in your 20s and starting your life is a universal experience. We all put a lot of personal experiences in the show.”
And something that all 20-somethings currently, as well as anyone who was once 20-something, can relate to is dealing with what at the time seems like earth-shattering, life-ending major failures. The show has done an excellent job of demonstrating that even though these women may be bold they also fumble, even if they are wearing super cute shoes while doing so.
“Failures are true to life. You have these breakthrough moments, but along the way, you are messing up all the time. Everybody has horror stories from building their careers and the major missteps they took. It’s real and it’s relatable but also heartbreaking and funny,” said Lasher. We saw this when Jane left her cushy job as a writer at Scarlet (where she seemingly only wrote one article a month) and the coolest mentor in the world (the magazine’s EIC loosely based on real life former Cosmo EIC Joanna Coles) to run her own vertical at a Huffington Post-like startup. Believe it or not, things didn’t go that swimmingly and Jane was fired after like a day only to come crawling back to Scarlett with her tail between her legs (and yet she eventually got hired back because, hey, this is television.)
The Bold Type has also been hailed for its incorporation of real-life events into plotlines. In its three seasons, it has covered the #MeToo movement, gun control, ageism, body positivity, slut-shaming, women’s reproductive health, racial identity, bullying, and sexuality. This season especially did a stellar job of showing different viewpoints of a movement especially from that of a seemingly “good guy.” In one of the early episodes of this season the character of Alex, one of the only male (and straight) staffers at Scarlett, is shocked to find out an article an old friend wrote about being pushed into having sex was, in fact, about him.
“People are talking a lot about #MeToo and consent and there are a lot of conversations around that and obviously that is something we had talked a lot about. But we also wanted to talk about the gray area and how women are not always comfortable in voicing how they feel. So how do we sort through that? I also wanted to tell a story of a lot of people who consider themselves good people but it doesn’t mean that they made mistakes or weren’t aware of their own privileges. I wanted to unpack that gray area because I think if we just have these conversations in black and white it’s hard to make any progress and I’d rather get into areas that are not as clear and muck through our way to get through some understanding of each other,” she told Ladders.
That is why we have also seen the character of Kat go into politics this season as a candidate for city council (spoiler alert: she loses) but the fact that she ran was what is important. “Looking at Kat’s character and what felt like a natural evolution for her. And coming out of the writer’s room how politics in America was affecting each of us and the feeling of wanting to have a voice and be more aware of the impact and fighting for what you believe in right now. We were talking about that on a personal level and when we talked about Kat is just felt like a natural place for her character to go.”
And something that is both topical and relates to failure is the fact that on this week’s season finale (SPOILER ALERT) the future of Scarlet is very much up in the air after Jacqueline made some interesting choices and our three main ladies showed up to work only to find movers packing up the place. Is this the end of Scarlet? Perhaps but what an adventure for these Millennials that will be.
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