TV Rewind: The Bold Type Is the Definitive Millennial Woman’s TV Show

TV Features The Bold Type
TV Rewind: The Bold Type Is the Definitive Millennial Woman’s TV Show

Editor’s Note: Welcome to our TV Rewind column! The Paste writers are diving into the streaming catalogue to discuss some of our favorite classic series as well as great shows we’re watching for the first time. Come relive your TV past with us, or discover what should be your next binge watch below:

There have always been TV shows about a single woman making her way in the world, but shows about a group of female friends are rare and infrequent. Growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I watched almost anything with a female protagonist, but what I loved most were shows like The Golden Girls, Designing Women, and Sex and the City where women talked to women about the world around them. Twenty years later, we have Mindy Kaling’s impeccable homage to female friendship, The Sex Lives of College Girls, but a few years before Sex Lives, there was another show—The Bold Type—which answered all my dreams for a female-centric show about three friends navigating the world they live in.

The Bold Type, which aired on Freeform from 2017-2021 and is now on Hulu, is a workplace dramedy that quickly spills into the personal lives of its three heroines: Jane (Katie Stevens), Kat (Aisha Dee), and Sutton (Meghan Fahey of White Lotus fame). The best friends, all in their mid-20s, work at the women’s magazine Scarlet, a dead ringer for Cosmopolitan. (The show is based on former editor, Joanna Coles). The chemistry between the three leads is palpably electric, and orbiting them is a perfectly suited supporting cast, including the editor-in-chief and mentor extraordinaire, Jacquelyn (played by the indomitable Melora Hardin) and the head of the fashion department and Sutton’s boss, Oliver (Stephen Conrad Moore), whose quips are legendary: “It better be Ativan or Sour Patch Kids. I’m a complex man with varied addictions.” Over five seasons, the show vividly captures that feeling of endless possibility and confusion which defined being a 20-something millennial. We watch the three women grow and change; meet and lose partners; and advance, stall, and change careers; but most importantly, we watch them grow closer. The show is rich with a love plot—the love among three friends.

Taking a cue straight from The Golden Girls and Designing Women, The Bold Type eagerly tackles the most pressing societal issues of the late 2010s. We millennials grew up in a rapidly changing world, and the showrunners infuse that sensitivity into every episode. The women talk about their boyfriends, careers, and clothes, but they also discuss representation, equity, inclusion, class and money, gun control, the power of social media, sexual identity, body positivity, and sexual harassment—all with an honesty that reminds me of conversations I have with my own close friends. Between Sutton’s and Jane’s exuberant support for Kat, who comes out as a lesbian, to the solidarity between the friends and assault survivors at the precipice of the #MeToo movement, I’ve seen reflections of myself and my friends in The Bold Type again and again.

The Bold Type is a women’s show, and its focus rests singularly on the millennial woman’s experience. Growing up, the adults in our lives convinced us that we could do anything a boy could do, and so we entered the workplace like lions, ambitious and eager to find our place and succeed. The show harnesses that energy while not shying away from the very real fact that misogyny, racism, and classism lurk in every corner. Kat, Jane, and Sutton are but too aware as they watch the all-male and all-white Scarlet board eagerly toss out Jacqueline for a younger man; experience company culture that demands long hours and little work-life balance; and deal with male colleagues who are feminists in name only. In their personal lives too, the women navigate a sea of issues particular to millennial women. Kat struggles with what it means to be a Black lesbian in America, Sutton deals with slut shaming and an industry made for nepo babies, and Jane’s battle with the BRCA gene and fertility felt like a repetition of every conversation I’ve had with my friends over when, if, and how to have children. The Bold Type unflinchingly shows what happens when women are told that they are equal to men despite knowing that in fact, the game is rigged against them.

But, instead of wallowing in hopelessness, The Bold Type argues that it is precisely these barriers which nurture loving female relationships. The show gleefully revels in all of the ways in which millennial women banded together and provided each other with space to make mistakes and enjoy life. Kat, Jane, and Sutton are each other’s cheerleaders, imbuing into each other endless confidence and love. The show also glorifies the intergenerational relationships between female bosses and their millennial employees and the possibility for nurturing and supportive mentors. Melora Hardin’s Gen X/Baby-Boomer Jacqueline is the women’s ride-or-die work mother, delivering pep talks and dressing downs and never wavering in her belief of her female staff’s unmatched abilities.

I’m sure I’m making The Bold Type seem like a very serious show about very serious topics. But for all of its embrace of societal issues, The Bold Type revels in so much humor and joy that it is far from didactic. The show is an unabashed celebration of the delight inherent in being young—whether that means helping Jane disengage a yoni egg from a tight spot, realizing that they mixed up their vibrators, getting accidentally high, or chatting about their dates from the previous night. The show loves these women, and in turn, viewers love them too.

All of this and more truly defines The Bold Type as the ultimate millennial woman’s show. Of course, it helps that the dramedy highlights so many shared experiences like the #MeToo movement. But what makes The Bold Type definitive is how the show’s creators center the plot on those formative female friendships that helped us evolve into the people we are today. Watching our life choices—both the mistakes and the wins—play out on screen can be unnerving, but watching them filtered through the lens of the people who stood by us is a testament to the fact that what truly defines the millennial experience for women is how we navigated through the growing pains of adulthood thanks to the support of the women who surrounded us.

Watch on Hulu

Malkah Bressler is an entertainment and culture writer living in Brooklyn. Follow her @malkstahb for her quips on TV, movies, and motherhood.

For all the latest TV news, reviews, lists and features, follow @Paste_TV.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin