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The Bold Type went from curious and socially aware to culturally out of touch

  • "When it debuted in 2017, The Bold Type became a crossover hit with teens and adults alike, perhaps because it cannily tapped into the feminist concerns and aspirations of a micro-generation ago," says Inkoo Kang of the Freeform magazine drama that ended its five-season run this week. Kang says The Bold Type thrived by reversing the well-worn tropes of predecessors like Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada. "That could lend The Bold Type an after-school-special quality (rather often), but it added to the your-first-job-as-a-second-adolescence observation that energized the first couple of seasons, while affirming its career-focused characters as also curious, outward-looking and socially aware," says Kang. "That emphasis on learning was solidified by the title of Jane’s vertical: the Failing Feminist. But the feminism of 2021 — and I’m referring to the largely online discourse and projects about gender and equity among young people that The Bold Type wanted to channel — doesn’t feel like even the feminism of 2017. Since that year, we’ve had the #MeToo movement and a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement — responses to the Trump presidency and the accompanying backlash to social progress that’s already never felt like enough. Those two phenomena, combined with mass unemployment and the health-care crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, contributed to preexisting disaffection toward structural injustices and the inadequacies of an individual-focused, just-keep-hustling ethos like 'lean in.' The increased visibility of violence against communities of color and the LGBTQ community underscored the necessity for mainstream intersectional feminism, while the shredding of an already frayed safety net that we saw in 2020 renewed the urgency of rethinking feminism’s relationship to capitalism. But for a show that so foregrounded learning, The Bold Type seemed to have absorbed none of these cultural shifts...The final three seasons, but particularly the calamitous just-concluded one, highlight just how dramatically the show went from aspirational to out-of-touch, especially when it attempted to comment on contemporaneous political shifts." Kang adds that "rushed story lines rendered the show’s truncated final season an unmitigated disaster....In classic Bold Type fashion, it was an ending that airbrushed all the complications away."

    TOPICS: The Bold Type, Freeform