If Hollywood is anything to go by, things certainly have improved for NYC career women since Working Girl. You can wear those Staten Island Ferry-issue sneaks to the office, not just during your commute. Female bosses are supportive, not conniving. One does not push around steamy dim sum carts; one color-coordinates macarons.
But there are still plenty of trials and tribulations facing the three go-getting heroines of Freeform's The Bold Type. Set at the fictional Scarlet magazine, the new workplace drama is two parts The Devil Wears Prada and one part Lauren Conrad's mascara tears snaking down her cheek as Natasha Bedingfield warbles a tune about her future being unwritten. Bonus: It passes the Bechtel test with flying colours.
Meet Jane Sloan (Katie Stevens), a bright young thing with Kendall Jenner looks and delusions of Joan Didion grandeur. After four years of toiling as an assistant at the glossy women's magazine Scarlet, Jane's finally landed her dream job: a plum writing gig. But first, a selfie.
Jane's not the first Scarlet assistant to climb the ranks. Kat Edison's (Aisha Dee) new role as social media director has given her the cents to pay for a bottle of bubbly to celebrate Jane's new job, if not, alas, the sense to chill that sucker; I gasped when she stowed the Champagne in a handbag in the fashion closet.
Unlike Jane, an earnest Colorado native whose middle name is definitely "So Long, Boulder City," Kat oozes cool confidence. She also wears sneakers 24/7, which makes her the best person on the show, if not all of Freeform. Rounding out the trio is Meghann Fahy's Sutton Brady, a secret Samantha in Charlotte's clothing. Sutton is the sole remaining assistant of the group, which may have something to do with the fact that she whips off her bra at her desk, steals thongs from the fashion closet, and is sleeping with one of the board members. Let she who has never raised the ire of HR cast the first stone.
Who's steering this ship? Scarlet editor-in-chief Jacqueline Carlyle (Melora Hardin of The Office and Transparent fame, taking on a role inspired by Cosmopolitan EIC Joanna Coles), who has the requisite snazzy short hairstyle but not the frostiness associated with her position. Jacqueline is no Miranda Priestly; she's intimidating, but also charming and capable of extracting the best from her team.
We see her at work when the team is summoned to a meeting with Scarlet's board of directors, a humorless bunch of elderly white men who flinch at words like "punani" and the concept of a reverse cowgirl. Somehow newbie Jane's writer status scores her a better seat than social media director Kat, but the greater injustice is that photographer Adena El-Amin (Nikohl Boosheri) has pulled out of letting the magazine run her provocative images. This news upsets Kat, and the wheels in her mind start turning as the meeting adjourns.
It turns out that Sutton is like The Devil Wears Prada's Andy, only with more free time and a better sex life. When she's not fetching lunches, she's having sexy time with Richard (Sam Page), a handsome lawyer who also happens to be the only man on the Scarlet board who can whisper "punani" in bed without clicking his dentures.
Meanwhile, Jane's story pitches are falling flat with Jacqueline. The good news is that the EIC is invested in making her writers shine, though her new hire isn't thrilled when she's ultimately assigned an essay on stalking her ex-boyfriend Eric (Michael Iliadis) without the use of social media. It's maybe not the most inspired of assignments, but it does help flesh out her character's backstory. She's not over Eric or her sad childhood, but she ultimately learns to trust her voice and submit a piece that wins Jacqueline's approval.
Kat's hustle is more engaging. Even though it's not really her job, she tracks down Adena at her photography studio. Adena, who is both lesbian and Muslim, scoffs at what she sees as Scarlet's superficiality. Kat parrots Jacqueline's line about "stealth feminism" — women can care about contouring and Capitol Hill, you know — but it takes a visit to Scarlet and some sex toy swag to sway Adena. She agrees to let her photos run, and despite Kat's insistence that she's strictly straight, sparks are flying.
Adena's also flying, which is a problem. She's been caught with sex toys in her luggage, an illegal act in the Middle Eastern country she's visiting. She's being held by authorities and must make a statement of guilt if she wants to be freed. Kat freaks out and proposes a Scarlet social media campaign to save her new friend, but her bosses say it's too risky.
It's Jacqueline who saves the day. She pulls some strings with a friend in the State Department, and Adena is released. Kat sends her a topless (but emoji-covered) selfie to celebrate, and we officially start shipping Kadena. (But seriously — that's two topless office selfies in one episode. Please don't try this at your desk.)
The episodes ends on a high note. Jane finished her story, got closure with her ex, and scored a shoutout in Jacqueline's speech at the gala. Kat negotiated a major editorial exclusive and potentially made a new love interest. And Sutton, despite her friends' efforts to intervene, transitioned her affair with Richard into a tenuous relationship.
Even better? This version of New York City has subway platforms with no rats and no people. What secret Midtown Manhattan Narnia is this?
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