Thursday, June 20, 2024

Tiny Jane, Big Problems: The Bold Type’s “The Scarlet Letter” is… Interesting

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Hello fellow The Bold Type viewers, and welcome to episode 3, during which I was cringing a little and crossing all my fingers and toes that this season doesn’t go the way of Supergirl and lose sight of what makes it special. Last week, the show bit off more than it could (should?) chew with an inexplicable #NotAllMen story line and an over-simplified discussion of race re: Kat’s parents and sense of identity (which is apparently resolved now). But it also had some of that great friendship core, and some pretty awesome Kadena content.

It was a tequila kind of morning for these ladies

This week, well, it’s a real mixed bag still. Jane’s story line is the most ridiculous, so let’s start there. Having been fired from Incite, Jane spends her first unemployed day on the phone with the apparent scores of editors she has phone numbers for (?!), none of whom will hire her because of the way she “threw Incite under the bus,” according to one such editor. I’m sorry, but the fact that Jane is blacklisted from every writing job in the world because of something so goofy as an apology voicemail that got autotuned and went viral, somehow resulting in her being put on a major news program (lol) to save the reputation of a magazine whose entire premise is rejecting the establishment (and thus is not even a mainstream publication), is pretty dumb. The Bold Type has always demanded some suspension of disbelief, but this is pushing it.

Sad Jane decides to try pitching an idea for a story that an editor who wouldn’t hire her just handed to her, about the medical establishment. So she gets Sutton to send her Doogie Howser’s Ben’s number. He was one of the #NotAllMen dudes from last week, who looks like a young Benjamin Bratt and is apparently the world’s most magical man.

I really bristle at the Bens of the Hollywood/fiction world. They’re the ones who seem like some stereotypical straight white girl’s over-the-top fantasy of perfection- a human who could never exist in real life, and honestly shouldn’t. Ben is a doctor who apparently never needs to sleep but has endless energy and charm anyway. I think he must be a gynecologist because apparently all his patients are women and most of them are pregnant. Ben remembers every last one of his patients’ names and their correct spellings off the top of his head, divides his time between a salaried hospital job and a free clinic, has delivered over 1,000 babies (he remembers the exact number, but I don’t), and is the savior of all the low-income women in New York who need health care.

And that’s not all! He’ll do your paperwork for you because the system is too complicated for poor people to understand, and if you’re in labor he’ll bust out his boom box and dance with you and the delivery nurse in order to dilate you! And he’ll let a random reporter, aka Jane, join in the fun without asking consent! He’s GREAT.

This would never happen in real life, thank goodness

Listen, it’s a real and true thing that the “health care” system in America is the most backward, completely exclusionary thing EVER, but there are no Bens to make it go away. Not that I would want that, because Ben is more than a little into himself and has questionable practices (see: forcing pregnant women to dance, doing other people’s paperwork). Anyway, obviously Jane falls all the way in love with him from the corner of the room and agrees to go to dinner with him sometime.

In the meantime, Jane’s so over being unemployed after 2 days, so she decides to ask Jacqueline for her job back at Scarlet. Fortunately for the sake of not everything being so easy, Jacqueline turns her down. Jacqueline is like a really cool mom, who will absolutely encourage you but also isn’t afraid of doling out tough love. She makes a great point, which is that she shouldn’t fix everything for Jane even though she might want to and probably can. But she sends Jane off with an earnest “I believe in you,” and despite Jane’s cry-face, I’m excited to see where this leads. I hope she grows up a little, because she kind of could stand to do that.

So sad today

Jacqueline, for her part, is not psyched about Cleo, the new board member. I mean, neither am I- Cleo is terrible. She is so passive aggressive and goes off on this whole thing about how Scarlet’s Body Positivity issue shouldn’t promote the idea that being fit and fat is a thing. She makes a point of saying the the men on the board agree, which, ew. Jacqueline isn’t having it, though, and decides to bring back a Letter from the Editor (which apparently hasn’t been a thing for years) that is explicitly about how healthy it is for women to love their bodies.

girl bye

Meanwhile, Oliver puts Sutton in charge of her first photo shoot. It’s for a jewelry spread that is supposed to be staged with candy as the backdrop. Kat pressures Sutton to hire Adena as the photographer, which leads to so many flinch-y moments. Adena needs to prove she’s working in order to get her visa; Kat thinks a photo shoot with one of her best friends in charge is the perfect opportunity. Sutton is less than receptive to the idea of using someone “edgy” like Adena, turning out such choice words as “so different” and “off-brand for Scarlet” to describer her. This feels like some discriminatory bullshit, despite Sutton’s fears about doing the shoot just right to prove herself to Oliver.

This is my chance-taking face

Jacqueline convinces Sutton to take a chance, but on the day of the shoot, as a clearly excited and eager Adena proposes smashing up the candy to make it more interesting and aesthetically pleasing, Sutton pretty much loses it. Adena overhears her telling Kat that the photo shoot is a disaster, that Adena blew right past the agreed-upon concept and is being disrespectful by not listening to Sutton.

Adena takes this to heart and does the photo shoot with the original concept. Of course, it looks terrible, and not because of Adena’s photography skills. She and Sutton have a heart to heart about it, and they end up doing a shoot with Sutton, Jane, and Kat as nude models- and Adena as nude photographer (making her subjects more comfortable! I’m into it)- displaying their scars and pimples with the jewelry. It’s a little silly, but this scene is what I love about The Bold Type: when the women (this time including Adena, yay!) let down their guard, bond, create, and laugh a lot. It reminds me of similar moments with my friends, and despite the kind of frivolous premise, it’s just really sweet.

Friends, I hope!

Of course, Oliver loves the photos, because Sutton seems to always pull everything off, at least job-wise.

And then we have this adorable scene between Kat and Adena that I want to mention because these two have such great chemistry and I really love seeing them in bed together. They talk about how fun the shoot was and then Adena tells Kat that she never wants to get in the way of her and her friends. It’s very considerate and loving, but it immediately made me wonder about Adena’s friends. As if the show read my mind, the preview for next week looks like it will include a lot of Adena’s friends, and probably exes, who knows! I’m excited about it.

This is a good image to end on, I think

That’s it for this week, folks! See you back here next week!

All images courtesy of FreeForm

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