The Bold Type: Season three Review
We rejoin the ladies of The Bold Type a few weeks after their trip to Paris fashion week. Jane chose Ryan, Richard is asking Sutton to move in with him, and Kat is still hung up on Adena. Throughout this season we continue to see them all grow, and discover who they are and what they want from life.
Kat's main story arc follows her campaign to become council person for the first district of New York. She is inspired to do this by the intelligent and passionate Tia, after the original opposition candidate drops out. This storyline touches on various different aspects of what it means to get into politics, but also a young, queer, black political candidate.
One of the first things that happens is for Tia to organise someone to look into anything from Kat's past that might be used against her. In an age of social media and internet hacking, this search is potentially very scary for anyone; it is a complete invasion of privacy, but it must be done so that they can prepare. A few things about Kat are revealed, the most impactful of which is that she had an abortion when she was 20.
This leads to a really significant conversation at how abortion is viewed. Should it be perceived as something that someone should hide, something that could be used against them? Even if it was an easy decision for Kat at the time, it can't have been easy to just not talk about it in the aftermath. The fact is that some abortion clinics in the US aren't really abortion clinics, but rather clinics set up by pro-life associations in order to scare and shame people who go to them looking for help. This provided a somewhat terrifying insight into just how isolating having an abortion can be, how people are shamed and degraded for something that should be their choice, and then pressured to keep it secret for fear of retribution.
Another poignant message brought up in Kat's campaign arc is that of white privilege and racism. When Kat and Tia are canvasing together they stop to take a campaign selfie on the steps of a town house, just as one of the residents returns home. This resident, a middle-aged, middle-class white woman, immediately gets defensive and begins accusing them of casing her house. She is not disuaded, when Kat and Tia explain what they are doing, even when Jane and Sutton arrive. This treatment wasn't shocking to see, which is saddening in and of itself, but it is something that I am glad was shown. Kat and Tia, two black women, were racial profiled in their own neighbourhood. This is something that happens in real life that can lead to people being shot, so it is important that it is represented in media in a way that doesn't demonise black people simply for existing.
Overall, Kat's campaign arc was an excellent narrative vehicle for the inclusion of various really poignant story points, both as heavy as the ones above, and those of a more personal nature, such at Kat struggling with the idea of leaving Scarlet. It took the story outside of the glossy halls of the Scarlet office and added a wider perspective to the show. I really enjoyed seeing Kat in this new environment and I loved seeing her relationship with Tia grow. Tia was also an amazing addition to this season, her smarts and experience with political campaigning were a good insight into how politics isn't just for older people. Though all of this is fiction, there were so many instances where scenes made me think about how a situation might happen in the real world.
Other than supporting Kat in her, eventually unsuccessful, bid for office, Sutton has her own difficulties and obstacles this season. The main one being settling in to being out in the open with her relationship with Richard. This season sees the two of them move in together and begin to navigate what that means for their relationship.
The most compelling part of this development is how long it takes Sutton to adjust to be able to rely on someone, not just for emotional support but also for money. Sutton's past was explored in season two, where it was revealed that she grew up with a single alcoholic mother. It is difficult for her to rely on anyone but herself. I enjoyed this part of the narrative because it touched on how difficult it can be to feel comfortable with someone, even if you love and trust them. Sutton and Richard come from such different backgrounds and there could easily be a really weird power dynamic between the two of them, but there isn't. They support each other and gradually grow even more in each others presence. It was heartwarming to watch a them develop.
I also really loved Sutton relationship with Oliver's new adoptive daughter Carly. She really clicks with her and takes her feelings to heart when she discovers the affects of seeing super skin models on Carly's body image. This lead to Sutton using real women in her runway show. This was a nice sentiment, and it very much fit into the theme of the show. But it did feel a little under developed, so, hopefully, there will continue to be more body positive messages throughout future seasons.
Meanwhile, Jane is snapped up by the new head of the .com, Patrick, much to her chagrin. Her dislike of Patrick is undeniably amusing, especially when he is just such an easy target. He exudes entitled hipster vibes, and speaks in a way that makes it easy to understand why anyone would be rubbed up the wrong way, especially someone as straight laced as Jane. But it was also great to see how they worked past those differences and discovered how to work together, even if they don't necessarily like each other.
Speaking of Ryan, I am glad that Jane picked him over Ben. Ryan is the more interesting character and seeing Jane come out of her shell in their relationship was super fun. However, the cheating arc that they had in the last couple of episodes wasn't fun, at all. It felt super forced, like something big had to be happening with Jane just because big things were happening with Kat and Sutton and the season was ending. It didn't really add anything to the story and just felt uncomfortable. Also the way that Ryan hijacked Jane's talk on her Pamela Dolan article, and article about the mistreatment of models by photographers, was gross. He completely derailed the topic of the discussion and took time away from any actual questions that could have been asked. Romantic gestures are all well and good but not when they detract from your partners achievements and interrupt important conversations. I'm glad they eventually made up, but the whole endeavour just left me with a generally bitter taste in my mouth.
The wider context of the Pamela Dolan article, Jane's main story arc for the season, is that Dolan is a famous fashion photographer who abuses her, usually young and female, models. This speaks to a wider debate of whether art can be separated from the artist, and whether the end results justify the means. This is an incredibly important topic to bring up in the age of the Me Too movement. This storyline also highlights that abuse isn't always sexual in nature, and that the perpetrator isn't always male. The way that Jacqueline then held Scarlet to a higher standard is also a good example of how everyone, both producer and consumer has to get involved in order for real change to happen. Abuse is unacceptable, and having the shown on The Bold Type in a way that explicitly poses the idea that no art is worth abusing people is pretty meaningful.
This season of The Bold Type not only continued the shows usually exploration of the social issues facing today's young working women but it also broadened the scope outside of their work place and personal lives. The issues covered were sometimes vast and heavy, and sometimes small and important on a more personal level. But the show managed to hit the right note in the majority of cases. I wouldn't really say that it was overall better or worse and either of the previous seasons, but rather that it felt like a natural progression from where the show has already been.
However, one thing that was significantly better that season two, was the ending. Where season two's ending felt dull and like it should have happened at the middle ad break of an episode rather that the end of the season, seasons three's cliff hanger ending was completely on point. With all the desks and computers being removed from the Scarlet office and Jacqueline MIA, season three expertly leaves you wanting for more. And with season four already confirmed, more is exactly what we are going to get.