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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Bold Type is a series that focuses on three young women who work at a fashion magazine. The series does have some sexual content that makes it iffy for tween viewers: One of the women is having a sexual affair with a much older male colleague; we see them exchange flirtatious texts and Snapchats with talk about her underwear; later they kiss in bed in their underwear while he unhooks her bra (no nudity). There's some racy talk about sex toys, getting "roofied," a magazine story about sexual positions, and trading sex for advancement at work. Lesbian sex is talked about in veiled terms. Adults drink wine and cocktails on social occasions and have celebratory toasts at parties; characters occasionally drink too much and then may make bad choices (like calling an ex). Infrequent cursing includes one "s--t," plus "ass," "hell," and "dammit." Nonetheless, women are given strong, ambitious roles and are taken seriously. The cast boasts diversity, with people of color in main roles and respectful LGBTQ storylines, so there are some positive messages for teen viewers.
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What's the story?
In the fashion world, Scarlet magazine reigns supreme -- and at Scarlet, editor-in-chief Jacqueline (Melora Hardin) has her own supreme reign, directing her magazine's visuals and editorial content with an iron hand. It takes a lot to impress her, and only THE BOLD TYPE can succeed in this high-pressure, high-fashion milieu. Jane (Katie Stevens), Kat (Aisha Dee), and Sutton (Meghann Fahy) started together at Scarlet as assistants. Now Jane has just been promoted to a writing position, while Kat has risen to the magazine's social media manager; Sutton is still doing time as an assistant. She envies her friends, yet a hot affair with Scarlet legal counsel Dick Mott (Sam Page) is taking up some of the time she might use to impress her bosses. Meanwhile, Jane and Kat have their own problems -- respectively, Jane's need to prove that Jacqueline's promotion wasn't a mistake, and Kat's confusing feelings for a female photographer. Can these friends succeed in life and love while moving ahead at work?
Is it any good?
In a medium where young women are too often gossipy girls or pretty little liars, it's refreshing to see deeper characters in a (still soapy!) workplace drama. Jane, Sutton, and Kat are presented to viewers as a sort of teen-friendly take on the ensemble of female friends most famously typified by the Sex and the City gang, though their characterizations are subtle and skillful enough that the characters don't break down easily into stereotypes ("the smart one," "the sexy one"). Each woman is working her way up the publishing ladder while at the same time dealing with romantic attachments.
But what's notable about The Bold Type is that the romantic entanglements are only part of these women's lives, not the end-all, be-all. There's just as much drama in Jane pitching a story idea at a meeting as in the moment when she runs into her ex. Like real women, these characters lead full, rich, and complicated lives.
It's good stuff -- despite the fact that Hardin's Jacqueline (saddled with the world's worst wig) seems to have been cast as a sort of unrealistically Willy Wonka-esque mentor to her employees. Memo to young women: Your boss may very well assign you work and then check up on your progress. But it's unlikely she'll put off a call from Beyoncé to check in on how your breakup is going. Since this series was inspired by a real-life fashion editor, it's not surprising that the boss is painted in such glowing tones -- but it does detract from the fun. A Miranda Priestly type may be a bit of a cliché, but without an antagonistic boss, the antics of our three she-roes loses a bit of excitement. Nonetheless, teens will enjoy watching -- and parents may like the show enough to watch along.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Jane, Kat, and Sutton show perseverance and teamwork in The Bold Type to succeed in a competitive industry. What qualities does each have that make them keep striving and occasionally scoring? Why are these important character strengths?
Families also can talk about how many dramas and comedies are set in a high-fashion milieu. What is attractive or compelling about this setting? Is it the presence of young female characters who hope to succeed in business (while looking stylish and gorgeous)? How is this show like or different from other movies and TV shows about young women who work in fashion, such as The Devil Wears Prada, The Carrie Diaries, or Ugly Betty?
What role do friends have in one's life? Do they sometimes take the place of family? Why?
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