TV Reviews

Review | ‘The Bold Type’ Season 3 Episode 3: Stroke of Genius

The Bold Type tackles its first issue of the season, embroiling Alex in the wrong side of the MeToo movement, while Sutton and Kat dip their toe in new careers and Jane pushes herself out of her comfort zone.

Season 3, Episode 3: Stroke of Genius
Directed by: Jamie Travis
Written by: Neel Shah
Starring: Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee, Meghann Fahy, Sam Page, Matt Ward, Melora Hardin & Stephen Conrad Moore

So, I have noted – on more than one occasion – that the character of Alex (played wonderfully, admittedly, by Matt Ward) is out on somewhat of a limb of late in The Bold Type and the writers seem slightly unsure how to use him, as other than a soundboard for the girls’ problems throughout the series. With the exception of his dalliance with Sutton (Meghann Fahy), Alex has had little of meaty substance to delve into. Until now, that is. Unfortunately, it’s a risky move as the first foray into the character’s life, and is sure to be particularly polarising amongst the fanbase – but perhaps that is the point. Within the episode, Alex realises that he is the subject of a MeToo article, which causes him to confront some of his behaviours with relationships in the past. He initially responds defensively and with disbelief that he did anything wrong when told the fact that the woman with whom he’d had sex felt like she was in no position to say no due to some things he had said to her before that made her feel that sex was conditional. Alex maintained that there was plenty of opportunity for her to have said if she didn’t want to, failing to realise that regardless of his viewpoint, she did not feel that she was able to do so safely. It’s somewhat of a tricky situation, and it’s a completely in-character and believable reaction for somebody to have when confronted with this unpleasant reality. Nobody really wants to be viewed as the villain within a movement, and Alex has firmly been presented as “good guy” material throughout the series – and clearly views himself this way. Though this is his first reaction, Alex soon begins to look into his behaviour to come to terms with this revelation, and comes to the conclusion that it’s his duty to own up to his own role within this MeToo story in order to take responsibility and demonstrate his growth, as well as starting a dialogue with other men to encourage them to own up to their own toxic behaviours within their relationships. Perhaps the greatest scene within this storyline comes in the form of an interaction between Alex and Jacqueline (Melora Hardin), in which Jacqueline clearly shows that her priority is the wellbeing of her writers, instead of content – which is more than can be said for Patrick (Peter Vand), with whom she is engaged in an awkward power play.

Meanwhile, Kat (Aisha Dee) is involving herself within local politics after her failed attempt to save The Wild Susan by joining the campaign for his opposition. With her expertise in social media, she is drafted upon for support and even enlists Sutton to give the candidate a makeover, and Jane (Katie Stevens) encourages Ryan (Dan Jeannotte) to write a piece upon her for increased exposure. Unfortunately, the candidate is significantly subpar, completely unable to drum up public support and lacks any sort of charisma to carry a speech. In comes Kat, who delivers an impassioned speech about the need to be involved within politics and to support politicians who have the interests of the people in mind. It is this speech that causes Tia (Alexis Floyd) to encourage Kat to run as a political candidate. It’s an understandable move for the character. Her Queer Prom in the previous episode shows that she is passionate about affecting change around her and has strong values, and I thought at the end of the episode that Kat would be inspired to run against the corrupt Councilman. I can’t help but wonder, however, that being an eloquent and passionate public speaker does not necessarily mean that you have the abilities and skills required to be a political candidate. We can tell where the storyline will go regardless, however, as there’s very little doubt that things will work out in Kat’s favour – she has a habit of excelling at everything she does.

Sutton is continuing to step up within her field, having to cover for Oliver (Stephen Conrad Moore) as a result of his adoption proceedings. Because the model is unable to fit into the dress that has been provided, Sutton has to think on her feet and adapt it, landing her in hot water with the designer, who is annoyed by Sutton’s alterations to the original product, necessitating a change in the dress manufacturing. The designer does, however, concede that Sutton’s design is worth it, though warns that if Sutton wants to design then she should be a designer instead. Sutton is conflicted upon getting involved within design, as she is on a fairly stable career track now, but the experience has definitely sparked her creativity. Richard (Sam Page) advises that she is still young, and now would be a suitable time for her to try it.

Jane gets landed with the somewhat more unbelievable aspect of the episode where she discovers that Ryan has been watching porn on her laptop. She reacts in a slightly more judgmental way than is perhaps necessary, failing to realise that just because somebody gets off to something in porn doesn’t necessarily mean that it is something that they want to engage with in real life. Plus, her judgment of Ryan pleasuring himself suggests more about her own shame towards sex than his. As it turns out, Ryan is into some pretty BDSM pornography, inspiring Jane to explore her own sexuality and the limits of what she is comfortable with. My only wish for this storyline, really, would be that they could have picked something a bit more outrageous for Ryan to have been into. It could have been bisexual porn, or pegging videos – and that would have opened a more interesting dialogue about either straight men engaging in anal play (which would be especially effective considering he’s been an alpha male type this whole time) or an exploration of male bisexuality, which isn’t seen terribly much on television. A good concept that could have been used for another purpose and might have made the episode significantly more interesting, instead of just showing another one of Jane’s numerous neurotic hangups.

Thoughts

So I’m guessing that Tia and Kat will be a thing. There was a lot of chemistry there, and it already seems easier than it was with Adena at the beginning. It’s great to see Kat being so confident now, and every single episode she seems to develop and mature within her own sense of self. Since so much of the earlier episodes and seasons were more about her exploring her sexuality and that side of her life, it’s nice to see her turning her own talents outwards for the betterment of the community, as well as having a potential love interest that comes along with that.

I’m still confused by the whole conflict between Jacqueline and Patrick. Jacqueline is Patrick’s boss, right? Why is he unable to remember this? He can’t just poach things from the print magazine for himself, and considering he’s already “stolen” Jane – which totally wouldn’t be allowed – but then also tried to pressure Alex into writing for him as well. It’s clear that he’s just searching for clickbait headlines to draw in the views regardless of the comfort of his writers.

It’s lovely to see Richard and Sutton in such a casual way in this episode. There’s no big drama, they’re just having a normal conversation and being supportive.

I like how sex positive it is that Sutton and Richard watch porn together, and how candid Sutton is about that. Well done, The Bold Type. Talking about these things shouldn’t be taboo, thank you very much.

I hope that this storyline with Alex is just the start of properly exploring his psyche. It would be a shame if this storyline defined him, as everybody else has had many opportunities to show lots of facets of their character, and currently this is the main thing that has happened to Alex.

I’ve made no secret of my love for all of these characters, and that only continues to grow week on week. This episode took a gamble in exploring a pervasive issue from a different standpoint, and was mostly successful, though I can see why some viewers might have found viewing it slightly uncomfortable. The great thing about The Bold Type is that it does not always draw conclusions about the “right side” of an argument, but instead opens the dialogue for viewers. In this case, The Bold Type came dangerously close to portraying the male in the situation as a victim, but within the grand context of the episode, it is more about Alex’s personal growth than it is trying to portray him as wronged. Both Sutton and Kat are exploring exciting new career opportunities that make me eager to see how these develop, and Jane has finally taken the step in freezing her eggs. Jane’s future storylines are perhaps the trickiest to predict, but stay tuned for next week for more of The Bold Type.

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