Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee
Photo: Philippe Bosse (Freeform)

The Bold Type is not always profound. It does not go in for searing character portraits or disturbing looks at the worst of humanity. There are ways in which its look at the lives of young women in a huge city isn’t so much aspirational as silly. But as it has proven over and over again, it tries, bless it. It tries so earnestly to treat its characters, and its target audience—young women in huge cities, small cities, and places that aren’t cities—as though they’re people capable of complex thought, of learning and changing, and of making many, many mistakes. It tries, and delightfully, it almost always succeeds.

In “Stride of Pride,” it succeeds—mostly.

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“Stride of Pride” follows each of the central bold types through a complicated couple of days, leading to a complicated couple of conversations. It’s bookended by sex, because why shouldn’t it be, but it’s an hour focused more on words than deeds, or doing the deed. (Sorry.) What makes it so effective, outside a few stellar, simple scenes between Katie Stevens and Aisha Dee, is that all these stories collide in ways that feel, for the most part, honest and organic.

It doesn’t all work, and perhaps it’s best to start there. In “Stride of Pride,” we get one quick little moment of Sutton turning her walk of shame into, well, a stride of pride—after a delightful sequence where Kat and Jane give her a mobile makeover, no less. All wonderful. Then she steps into a soap opera for the rest of the hour.

I don’t use soap opera as a negative there to ding soap operas, or to slight this story by association. But Sutton’s unknowing misadventures with a married man and subsequent meeting with his wife lacks some of the heft that The Bold Type usually brings to such stories. It’s not, as stated above, as though there’s usually much in the way of sturm und drang with this series. But typically, if The Bold Type does something, it finds a slightly more complicated way of doing that thing than one might normally expect.

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In this case, the surprise is the lack of drama. Allison seems heartbroken but stable, someone who wants a clear look at her own life and who is unwilling to blame the woman sitting across from her for the pain she’s experiencing. That is definitely more interesting than a scene, and I’m so glad there are no drinks thrown. But it’s still awfully slight, and it’s hard to shake the feeling that it’s all a ploy to point Sutton in Richard’s direction again, only to have her realize she may have missed her chance.

But if that storyline is slight, the overlapping stories of Jane and Kat is anything but. To be fair, it’s not as though The Bold Type is doing anything earth-shattering here. It’s a conversation about privilege, and specifically white privilege, in which a well-meaning white person is blind to that privilege. Not groundbreaking. But the way in which it’s handled is significant. I’ve written before in these reviews about The Bold Type’s appealing frankness, how confidently it assumes that these conversations are worth having, and are indeed being had elsewhere. It doesn’t treat these matters as big reveals or fodder for needless drama. People come into conflict, talk about that conflict and its roots, and continue forward, sometimes changed, sometimes with a new perspective.

And that’s what happens here. Jane’s unemployment storyline (the keyboard problems are, as they say, too real) collides with Kat’s frustration with hiring policies (and her continuing exploration, to say nothing of the show’s newfound interest, in her experience as a Black and biracial woman) in a few brief conversations. Stevens and Dee handle these beautifully, making the scenes as much about the conversations themselves as the nature of their friendship. It would be good, interesting stuff without the pleasure of watching them navigate their discomfort, but that addition pushes those scenes to among the most interesting of the show so far. In one sense, it’s pretty basic stuff—yes, Jane hasn’t considered her privilege, and no, diversity initiatives can’t just be good when they don’t affect you. But consider the source—a nice, hour-long dramedy on Freeform, formerly the home of Harry Potter weekends—and it’s really something.

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It ends with mostly nice, warm things—Kat’s dream candidate gets the job; Jane gets her head right, uses her unemployment for good, buys a nice bottle of apology rosé, and gets laid. Sutton doesn’t get those warm feelings, but she does have a sense of what she wants, and Kat has a sex dream about Adena’s ex, a story I sincerely hope ends with Adena saying “it’s okay, people have sex dreams sometimes.” But on the road to those relatively tidy conclusions, there’s a lot of appealing complexity, which means that The Bold Type is doing its usual thing, which is a great deal more unusual than it might seem on the surface.

Stray observations

  • Are there people who are really into the Richard/Sutton storyline? I really do want to know.
  • Look of the week: either the Stride of Pride ensemble or Kat’s comfy Friday night clothes.
  • Not look of the week: I do not share Jane’s fondness for off the shoulder tops with giant puffy sleeves.
  • Jane being unable to to search “how do I check my white privilege” was an unbelievably good sight gag.

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