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The Bold Type is back, still talking shit in the fashion closet

Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee, Meghann Fahy
Photo: Philippe Bosse (Freeform)
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The Bold Type returns and lets you know right away that it’s business as usual. Sex. Music (Lizzo, no less.) An unreasonable number of cab rides and an office environment not found on earth. A lovely central friendship. Impractical outfits. The great Melora Hardin. It’s all right as rain.

And Jane is kind of terrible.

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To be clear, Jane is usually kind of terrible, here she’s just terrible. This is not a slight on Katie Stevens, who’s playing this all perfectly. The character, in this episode, is a lousy person. What remains to be seen is whether or not the show thinks she’s being terrible—it has previously, and The Bold Type’s willingness to let Jane be kind of shitty has been one of its more compelling tendencies. But if it doesn’t, that’s not a great sign. Let’s review some of what Jane does in the third season premiere of The Bold Type:

  • Doors a guy

Honestly, that could be the end of the list, but let’s continue.

  • Doors a guy, blames it on him, does not apologize or even ask if he’s okay
  • Get real passive-aggressive about Sutton maybe moving in with Richard (course-corrects eventually, so there’s that)
  • Makes her boss/mentor’s professional setback all about her
  • Doesn’t say “Hey roomie, sorry you saw my boyfriend’s penis, glad you’re okay with it but it won’t happen again”
  • Is real snobby about the website arm of Scarlet, you know, the thing that keeps tons of her coworkers employed and where she has also been published
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That’s a partial list. In Jane’s defense, the dude she doored is also the worst, right down to the performative feminism, flocking to the nearest straight dude to hand out a column, using the words “sexual awakening” in his first 60 seconds in the office, telling an employee that her value is that she’s an “extension of Scarlet” because she has access to clothes and parties and then shitting on her for doing that, and the list goes on. The aggressive Olive Garden spot is probably him, too. Granted, the odds that Patrick Duchand (Peter Vack) isn’t intended to come off as at least a little terrible are probably zero—you don’t have a character drop a “namaste” in a meeting without intending for them to come a little pretentious—but it’s a lot of borderline-to-actually insufferable behavior for one hour.

If that’s what The Bold Type wants to explore, I’m all for it, but it’s not always easy to tell what’s intentional and what isn’t with some of these characters. Ambiguity can be marvelous, a lack of awareness less so. Luckily, most of this premiere is as smart and big-hearted as ever.

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Especially when it comes to this one.

Photo: Philippe Bosse (Freeform)
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While Jane spends her hour sleeping with Pinstripe and chasing down dirt on her new boss, Kat spends hers trying very hard to be the whole brand of a magazine while denying her heartbreak. It’s a simple story that even people who don’t run social media for a giant company can probably recognize. Aisha Dee, always good, is especially wonderful here, and while her more openly vulnerable moments are compelling, it’s the scenes in which Kat is dutifully trying to be this person she’s been instructed to be that really hit home.

Meghann Fahy, also reliably excellent, does fine work as well. Like Kat’s story, Sutton’s is also a relatively simple one: Her boyfriend wants her to move in, and she’s not sure about that idea. What makes it more complex is the power imbalance that’s always been an issue in this relationship, and the fact that for once, he’s the one discombobulated. Sutton’s right to want to take her time deciding about something so big, so early in this phase of their relationship, and she’s definitely right to be put-off by Richard telling Jacqueline that it’s already a sure thing. It’s the last bit, where the show asks why he’s doing that, where it gets really interesting. It would have been easy to make the whole thing about Richard demonstrating to all his peers how serious he is about Sutton, but by making the actual move a happy ending, it allows this sub-plot to be both things at once: reactionary and honest, performative and genuine. Cool stuff.

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All in all, “The New Normal” is a welcome return for The Bold Type, a show that’s always been refreshingly frank about issues that young women face. It just remains to be seen whether or not the show is aware that sometimes, some of those amazing young women are also assholes. If that’s where it’s headed, “The New Normal” is a great start. If not, The Bold Type may need a course-correction so that it can do what Kat’s hashtag encourages: be real.

Stray observations

  • Welcome back to The Bold Type coverage! We’ll be reviewing the first three episodes of the season as a test case to see if it warrants continued coverage, so if you want to keep ‘em coming, read and share and whatnot.
  • Look of the week: Kat’s gorgeous white blouse from her fake-fabulous girl’s night out.
  • Needs more Melora!
  • The show still has no idea what to do with Alex, huh?
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About the author

Allison Shoemaker

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves television, bourbon, and dramatically overanalyzing social interactions.