Last night marked the end of five seasons of fashion closet hangouts and lavish Scarlet Magazine parties in the beloved Freeform show The Bold Type. Best friends Sutton Brady (Meghann Fahy), Kat Edison (Aisha Dee), and Jane Sloan (Katie Stevens) evolved from low-level employees at the magazine in the pilot, navigating corporate and personal life, to women in control of their destinies—whether it’s as Scarlet’s resident stylist or its editor-in-chief.
The Bold Type was notable right out of the gate for tackling prescient subject matter in their storylines. Kat explored her sexuality in Season 1 and came out by the end of it; Jane dealt with a potentially life-threatening diagnosis that led to a preventative double mastectomy; and Sutton’s relationship veered toward divorce when she realized she didn’t want kids. That the show was willing to explore these issues (and more!) while also presenting them realistically made it a weekly comfort, and its unwavering depiction of female friendship was unlike most of its contemporaries on television.
Paste Magazine spoke to showrunner and executive producer Wendy Straker Hauser about threading the needle in the finale, saying goodbye to a series during the pandemic, and its legacy as a young adult show that pushed boundaries.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Paste Magazine: How much of the finale was planned from the beginning of the show?
Wendy Straker Hauser: It was really breaking as we went into the room for Season 5. When you love a show as much as we all did, there’s a part of you that just wants it to go on forever. So even thinking about what that final episode would be is something that I had not done, honestly, because I was enjoying the ride so much. Then once we realized we were having our last and final season and only had six episodes, we had to be really strategic and smart about how to use the time that we had and make sure that we knew exactly where we were going when we started.
Paste: I loved the bait and switch that happened with Jane and Kat, and I think it landed in a perfect place. How did that idea come to life?
Hauser: We always try to think about interesting twenty-something stories to tell that we don’t see a lot on television, that could resonate with our audience and be inspiring and also real. And I think the idea that someone who is so confident in where they’re heading and what their goals are—especially someone like Jane, who is so Type A and always has a list… what happens when you reach that place and it just doesn’t feel right? Do you push through and do something that doesn’t feel authentic to who you are? Or do you step up and do this brave thing and take a scarier path, but ultimately one that feels more true to your own journey?
When we brainstormed ideas of how we will leave these [characters] off… it felt right that one of them would land in that position. And then you think about Jane and you think, “well that’s sort of expected.” But what happens when you step foot in something you think is perfect for you and it doesn’t feel right? We loved telling the story that it was empowering for her to own that and to allow herself to have a journey that she hadn’t planned from the age of 16.
Paste: Sutton and Richard are fan favorites so I was excited that they were able to work out their differences. Was that always the goal, or were there versions of the ending where they stayed broken up?
Hauser: There were so many versions of this ending that we kicked around over and over again. It was really complicated because we had given them a problem that was such a grown-up, real issue, and trying to figure out how they would tackle that was not easy. We grappled with whether Richard should change his mind or whether Sutton should change her mind… would they ultimately part ways and would Sutton be on her own inspiring, although heartbreaking, journey to finding someone who had the same view and outlook of what life would look like and what family would look like? That was a real possibility for a long time. But it just felt not entirely right, and funny enough, in the same way that Jane set her mind to something and then ultimately it didn’t feel right and so she pivoted… we did as well.
We were really toying with the fact that maybe we live in the “real” of Sutton and Richard, and maybe as heartbreaking as it is, this might be one of those twenty-something loves that just isn’t where it’s supposed to be given their different views. But it just didn’t feel right. You see those two together on screen, they are a fan favorite and it just felt like in this world we’re living in with COVID, we are all in this place where we’re embracing the here and the now, and readjusting what being happy means. And it just felt really organic for these characters and for Richard to have had a vision of what his life would look like but ultimately he would be much happier just being with Sutton. So we loved the ending that we found and it feels very true to them and also very celebratory for both of them.
Paste: What was it like filming the final season and saying goodbye to these characters during the pandemic?
Hauser: It was bittersweet. We use this word so much lately, but it really was. We were so grateful to have had the opportunity. It would have been so heartbreaking if we had ended last year and ended our characters in the places that we ended them. So to get this opportunity was amazing, but it was such a challenge and it was so difficult all around. I never got to go to Montreal this season to see everyone or say goodbye or experience any of the magic that happened there. It was tough for the actors—it was isolating, it was scary at times, and it was really limiting. And for the crew as well, our production hours had been shortened. I think what’s amazing and a tribute to everyone involved is that you turn on the TV and the magic is still there and the heart is there. It was just a little bit harder for everyone. It was a real challenge, but I wouldn’t change it for having ended early.
Paste: What are your favorite memories of being part of this show?
Hauser: Oh, I have so many. I have loved being on set and just really experiencing the true love and heart that everyone involved has on the show—from anyone on the crew all the way up to the top to Melora [Hardin]. Everyone was, I think, proud and knew we were doing something more than entertainment. That we were telling important stories and having important conversations. I’ve just never been more proud of being part of something than I am of this show, so on a whole that has been my favorite thing.
Paste: What do you hope the show’s legacy is?
Hauser: I hope that young women will continue to watch it for many, many years. I hope it will start conversations, I hope it will make women feel more connected to each other. I know a lot of forty-something women that watch this show and I know a lot of twenty-something women who watch this show, so I hope that people will start watching it as a family if they aren’t already. I also hope that women in the workplace in positions of power will realize more and more that they can operate from a place of kindness and vulnerability rather than intimidation and fear. I hope that young women are inspired to follow their dreams and to lean on their friends, and to be honest when they screw up and know that everybody fails and that’s part of the whole journey.
Paste: What do you think all of these characters will be doing in 10 years?
Hauser: [Laughs] That is very interesting, 10 years is a long time. I think Kat will be running the magazine still. I think she’ll probably have her hands in a lot of international aspects and maybe she’ll run for office and win… actually, you know, I take that back, maybe she’ll be in office and Adina will be running the magazine. It’s a tough question and I’m not entirely sure. I hope one day I get the opportunity to spend some time thinking about it so I can make it a reality.
Radhika Menon is a pop culture-obsessed writer and filmmaker living in New York City. Her work has appeared in NY Post’s Decider, Teen Vogue, and will be featured in Brown Girl Magazine‘s first ever print anthology. She is a proud alumna of the University of Michigan and thinks she’s funny on Twitter.
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