“The Bold Type” Episode 104 Recap: Kiss The Girls We Want To Kiss

The Bold Type’s queer storytelling has, so far, been exceptionally strong. Adena and Kat both stand on their own as characters and have their own distinct arcs, but the intersection of those arcs is already making for a compelling and dreamy love story. The Bold Type lets Kat take some time figuring out her own identity (so far, she hasn’t labeled herself) while actively exploring her feelings for Adena. They have had chemistry since their very first scene together, and thankfully, the writers aren’t stretching this arc out too much, already delivering payoff on the tension that has built between them by ending the fourth episode of the series with a huge, beautiful, rom-com-worthy kiss.

But before we get to Kat’s declaration of feelings for Adena, there’s some friction between the two. Adena asks Kat to write her a character reference for her application to extend her work visa, and Kat laments to Sutton that she thought Adena was coming by to confess feelings for her. Look, I’m all for Kat pining over Adena, but this struck me as a bit selfish. In fact, Kat kind of makes Adena’s visa struggles all about her, following through on Sutton’s advice to use the character reference as an excuse to hang out with Adena. They take a romantic stroll through fake New York (the show is filmed in Montreal), and when Kat tries to Yelp a place to eat and live-streams a man playing violin on the sidewalk, Adena urges her to unplug and really live in the moment. Their extremely cute date, however, is violently crashed by a man on the street who yells at Adena to speak English, hurling slurs and threats at her. Kat is immediately on the defensive, demanding an apology and punching the guy in the face. The cops show up, Adena vanishes, and Kat is arrested.

Kat has no doubt proven to be headstrong and impulsive, and there is an immediate sense of satisfaction to watching her punch a bigot in the face. But Kat is frustratingly naive in this storyline. It makes sense that Kat would defend her friend in the heat of the moment, but when she’s talking to Jacqueline after and insists that nothing bad would have happened because they were in the right, I don’t fully buy it. For a woman of color, Kat shows way too much trust in the criminal justice system. And her frustration with Adena for running away also shows a naiveté that undercuts the character. Jacqueline shouldn’t have to tell Kat that Adena could have been deported if she had stuck around when the cops arrived. It ultimately all leads to an emotional, cutting scene where Adena explains to Kat that they come from different worlds and that not everyone has the same choices, but I’m not entirely convinced that Kat would need this speech in the first place considering how smart and plugged-in she is.

“We are from different worlds, and I really want you to stay in mine,” she professes on Adena’s doorstep before adding “I think I really like you,” the prelude to their magical kiss. It’s a bold, romantic moment, but some of the immediate lead-up to it doesn’t come off as completely organic or cogent in the character development department.

Jane, meanwhile, is having amazing, lamp-breaking sex with Pinstripe who shall henceforth be referred to solely as Pinstripe, because Jane, Sutton, and Kat all call him that (and honestly I have already forgotten his actual name). One of the consistently best parts of this show so far is how genuinely supportive Jane, Sutton, and Kat are of each other. Their bond is unbreakable, and they never seem to be in competition with one another. Sutton and Jane have been supportive of Kat exploring her sexuality from the start. And Kat and Sutton are now ecstatic that Jane is finally having good sex and getting out of her own head. Sutton quite literally live-texts Jane’s first orgasm to Kat.

Rocking post-orgasm leather pants, a black crop-top, and a fabulous oversized biker jacket, Jane struts into Scarlet confident, determined to keep things simple with Pinstripe. Her self-esteem, however, takes a few hits after she sits on a panel about young voices in political writing. As the moderator lists all the credentials of the other folks not the panel, Jane’s face falls. She doesn’t feel like she deserves to be there, and she feels immense pressure to prove herself because Jacqueline has dragged Richard to the event to try to convince him to back her plan to launch a new political vertical. Once again, Jane finds herself running up against people’s misguided views of Scarlet.

It’s especially fun to be watching this show in a time when Teen Vogue has established itself as a space for great political writing. It’s easy to imagine Jane writing a column along the lines of Lauren Duca’s “Thigh High Politics.” Teen Vogue has been getting a lot of recognition lately, but even the praise sometimes comes off as condescending, with people incredulous over the fact that a fashion magazine aimed at young women could possibly be deep and edgy in its political coverage. The fictional Scarlet pushes against the same assumptions. One of the other panelists talk over Jane, not taking her totally seriously. It’s frustrating to watch, but even though Jane feels like she failed, it’s clear that it’s not her fault. She gives it her best, and that’s a strong part of The Bold Type’s tone and scope: These young women work hard, and when they fail, it’s often largely because of systems working against them. Even though Jane didn’t get to say everything she wanted to, she still made a strong impression on people watching the panel, as evidenced by some of the feedback she gets on Twitter.

Sutton is also trying her hardest to break free of some of the restrictions put on her by outside forces. She’s still gunning for the fashion assistant position, and she hits an obstacle when Oliver (who is my personal style icon on this show by the way) confuses her for another candidate recommended by Lauren. The other candidate went to FIT, while Sutton has no real fashion experience. Encouraged by Kat to work the misunderstanding to her advantage, Sutton doesn’t correct him, but the truth of course comes to light. Richard actually spills the beans in an attempt to steer Oliver in Sutton’s direction that spectacularly misfires. Oliver calls her out for lying, but Sutton turns things around by reconfiguring the mood board Oliver tasked the candidates with constructing to reflect who she really is: the girl who couldn’t afford to go to fashion school and has had to put her dreams aside in order to work hard to support herself and her mother. Oliver’s moved by her raw, honest mood board (which includes the centerpiece of a DIY bedazzled U2 tank top she made). He also worked his way up in the fashion world without dazzling credentials, and he respects her for being real. She gets the job, which hopefully means she’ll never have to do a green juice run ever again (RIP Lauren, who I’m pretty sure will die without that green juice before she can even hire a new assistant to get it for her).

After she gets the job, Sutton collects Kat and Jane for a celebration dance in the elevator (the Fashion Closet is occupied). Again, their shared joy reverberates, highlighting just how close they are as friends. Ultimately, Sutton, Kat, and Jane all experience pretty major victories by the end of the episode. Jane’s confidence in herself as an emerging political writer surges; Sutton gets the job; Kat gets the girl. The Bold Type’s overall upbeat and heartwarming attitude makes it an incredibly refreshing show to watch. It hits that Jane The Virgin sweetspot of drama injected with levity. Even though some of the plotting has its flaws in this episode, it sticks the landing for all three protagonists (plus Jacqueline, who doesn’t wait for permission from the board to launch the politics vertical, because Jacqueline needs no man’s approval).

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is a Brooklyn-based writer, television critic, and comedian who spends most of her time over-analyzing queer subtext on television, singing "Take Me Or Leave Me" in public places, and assembling cheese platters. She has a cat named after Piper Halliwell from Charmed, and her go-to karaoke song is "Everywhere" by Michelle Branch. Her writing can also be found at The A.V. Club and The Hollywood Reporter, and she wrote the webseries Sidetrack. You can catch her screaming in all-caps about Kalinda Sharma, Jennifer Lopez, and oysters on Twitter and Instagram.

Kayla has written 177 articles for us.

19 Comments

  1. I love Jacqueline’s character so much. It is so refreshing to see a boss on screen who isn’t a dick. A woman who climbed the ladder, helping other people climb the ladder? I’m very here for it.

    The Kat-Adena story arc has been good. I think it was a little rushed, or unevenly handled in spots, but their chemistry and the quality of acting really makes up for some of that. I was super impressed by the shaky and unsure way Kat confesses her feelings to Adena. It felt real and scary.

    • yes! her whole *look* suggested she was gonna be another Type-A boss bitch character but i’ve been really surprised by how she’s becoming an actual ladyboss to look up to, which are rare on teevee shows (which are usually written by men who are uncomfortable with women being in charge of things!)

  2. *SPOILERS FROM THE PREVIEWS*

    Ok, so before this episode even aired, there was a preview that had a clip of Kat saying, “I kissed a girl,” and Jane jokingly responding, “And you liked it?” with no response from Kat. I was so nervous Kat was going to say she didn’t feel anything in the kiss, even though she has romantic feelings for Adena, which is a very real thing that happens because physical and emotional attraction aren’t always aligned. However, it still made me nervous for what this would mean for Kat and Adena going forward. But rest assured, the preview after the episode aired included Kat’s response, an affirmative, “and I liked it!” It made me very happy, even if the Katy Perry song itself does not.

  3. This show is so nice. I started yesterday, and by the end of the first episode I already cared about all the characters so much. I’m so happy with Kat and Adena. I feel like they could have said a little something about police brutality with Kat’s story, but I also feel like they packed a lot into that story, and I don’t know if they could have made it feel natural.

    Awesome recap!

  4. I’m gonna keep watching this show as long as it makes me weep in joy.

    That said, Kay owed Adena a bigger apology in the vein of “I’m sorry I didn’t take your word for it and that it took a fucking whites women to explain your situation to me for me to believe you and understand your position”

    Get your head out of your ass, Kat.

  5. I think Kat’s background has been mentioned as being pretty privileged class-wise, so perhaps that’s why she wasn’t written as automatically distrustful of the police or legal system? I agree that it made her seem too out-of-touch with current events though, especially since the show goes out of its way to insert references to contemporary politics. As far as her not knowing Adena’s situation immigration-wise, I could buy that a bit more. I’m not African American, but as a non-U.S. citizen, I’ve found that Americans are often unaware of the precariousness of our status here. Or maybe Kat did have some inkling that Adena might not be as free to clash with law enforcement as she might wish, but was momentarily too wrapped up in feeling hurt at what she saw as abandonment.

    In any case, I can forgive the writers for some narrative flaws for giving us, in the space of just four episodes, a really involving buildup for Kat/Adena, and, like you said, with two engaging characters that also have things going on with them outside of this relationship. Just in this episode, our girls got 8.5 minutes, and that doesn’t even include Kat’s scenes with Jacquelyn after she got arrested or when Jacquelyn is talking to Kat in her office.

    Speaking of Jacquelyn, I just want to say again how much I love her character: a boss who is amazing at what she does, but also clearly caring and not afraid of showing affection, verbally or physically. She’s not overly protective, but we’ve seen her be *there* for Kat and Jane when they need her. It’s beautiful.

  6. I love this show so much, even if it’s a bit cheesy sometimes. I did think it was weird that Kat didn’t mention anything about her being a black woman being arrested. But then again, they’ve showed that she’s very very stubborn and will always fight for what she thinks is right, so i think it made sense for her to react like that.
    My prediction for these two is that Adena will not leave her gf, and Kat will end things, but eventually accept that she’s pansexual or even bi. It would be great to have an out and proud bi woman of color, so even if Kadena breaks up it wouldn’t be all bad.

  7. Kat’s initial reaction seemed like the writers were being a little heavy-handed in taking advantage of a teaching moment – I definitely agree that a smart, plugged-in woman of color probably wouldn’t be that oblivious. I suspect that shining a spotlight on the situation by having Kat be totally clueless and need Jacqueline to spell things out for her was a way to ensure viewers wouldn’t miss any nuances that might have come along with a “show, don’t tell” approach.

  8. Okay, so I just binged-watched all four episodes tonight, and I am SO IN! I love all these characters – I wasn’t sure about Sutton at first, but she has won me over, and even though Jane often makes me cringe with secondhand embarrassment, she is just so relatable. But of course I ESPECIALLY love Kat. Yes, it’s partly because she’s the one who’s queer, but I just love seeing such a forthright, confident female character, where the confidence isn’t born out of superpowers of superior fighting ability. That is just so RARE to see on TV!

    Kayla, I was really glad you mentioned some of the discrepancies with Kat’s character in this episode, because they really threw me as well. Yes, it has been established that she comes from a pretty wealthy privileged background, but she’s still a social media director. We don’t know how directly the world of this show mirrors our own, but I still bet there’s a BLM-equivalent and a Muslim ban equivalent in their world, and as a social media director there’s no way she doesn’t know about and understand these things. It also felt weird and uncomfortable for me to see a white woman have to explain these things to a woman of colour? Like I get that Jacqueline is the mentor figure here, but that still seemed strange to me.

    Actually, Jacqueline is the only character that I have not yet grown to love. I agree it’s nice to see a female boss who’s actually NICE and takes the time to mentor. I was definitely expecting a Cat Grant/Miranda Priestly type (which, full disclosure, I fucking LOVE that trope). But I still don’t know much about Jacqueline yet. She seems kind of … bland? With Calista Flockhart’s Cat Grant, and Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly, they each have such a PRESENCE the moment they speak or enter a room. So far, Melora Harding hasn’t done that for Jacqueline. But I’m really hoping we get it eventually.

  9. Additional reasons why I love Jacqueline:
    -She was just strolling into work and heard the words “one phone call” and immediately stopped and picked up the phone, not knowing who it was or what had happened just that one of her employees was obviously in trouble. She didn’t delegate, she didn’t ask the woman answering the phone to ask what had happened she just put her hand out for the phone.

    -She then does not give Kat any grief because she knows Kat is humiliated enough having had her boss bail her out of jail, and also because she will always back up her staff.

    -She has no problem implying that her young staff members have helped her see that young people want to be more politically engaged through the magazine and then does the thing in spite of the board being all “nah” because she doesn’t need anyone’s approval.

    I. LOVE. THIS. SHOW.

  10. So, I’m starting to worry about this show a little bit…like we’re just four episodes into the first season and, already, the seams are starting the show.

    This is a show written about four mid-twenty year old girls by folks who aren’t mid-twenty year old girls…and this is a show endeavoring to write about a woman of color falling for another woman of color (who happens to be Muslim) while, according to IMDB, at least, not having any women of color on the writing team. These missteps feels like they could have been avoided if they’d asked someone…and I’m worried that The Bold Type doesn’t have people to ask.

    Is it possible that Kat’s privilege has left her as naive as they suggested? Possibly…but she’s still a woman of color whose job is the Internet, in an era when police brutality is being broadcast on the Internet and when the resistance is being forged there…it seems improbable that she’d be able to avoid those conversations.

    Also concerning? Alex, who they’ve basically turned into a well-worn TV trope, the magical negro. He’s the guy the white girls go to to make them feel better about themselves. C’mon, Bold Type, you can do better than this.

    These things aren’t disqualifying, yet, but I’m hopeful that the writing team will diversify as the show progresses or, at the very least, the show hires some consultants, like Jamie Brittain and Bryan Elsley did with Skins, to offer some insight into what the real lives of these young women would look like.

    • Thank you! You’ve totally captured my thoughts on the issues I’ve run into with this show — especially with Alex. He still feels like 2D to me. I love to see him as less of a “tag-along” typecasted character…

  11. Echoing everyone’s positive sentiments about the show! Also, as viewers let’s continue to support the show as much as possible… It seems like the viewership numbers are unfortunately pretty low. 🙁

  12. So to be honest I don’t really care all that much about Jane and Sutton (I really think my dislike for Jane is because of her character on Faking It. Hated her). BUT I loveeeeeeee Kat and I loveeeeee Adena and I ADORE Kat and Adena. I teared up a little bit at that end scene, because I relate so much to Kat. I really hope the writers don’t fuck this up because it really is so beautiful. I have hope because this is Nikohl Boosheri’s second time playing a lesbian, which basically means she is one.

  13. Ok, I am all aboard The Bold Type train. It’s a show that hits all my happiest, cheesiest tv places. And I am ALWAYS here for seeing two qwoc falling in love with each other. There is so much good here.

    That said, I just finished the most recent episode, and I had so many misgivings. Mostly, like quite a few commentators ahead of me on the thread, I zero percent buy into how they are writing Kat.

    As Kayla and others have said, I do not believe that a young black feminist writing for Scarlett would have been that naive about the justice system.

    But also, I was very uncomfortable with both Jacqueline and Adena lecturing Kat about her privilege in relationship to the cops. I am not trying to engage in some twisted version of “oppression olympics” where I say its harder to be black woman. AT ALL. I think that Adena had every right to flee the scene, the consequences for her as a Muslim lesbian in that situation could have been catastrophic.

    That said, as a black woman, Kat was absolutely in the lap of privilege in that situation either. My heart started to pound when the police stopped her. We all know that could have easily ended violently (or worse!) for her.

    I am still holding out hope for the show, because I think the positives of it firmly outweighs the negative, and I am looking forward to engage more with it via these recaps! And squeeeeing over all the adorable chemistry between Kat and Adena! And applauding all the pop feminism that still feels so good for my soul.

    I just wish… that their first kiss could have happened in an episode that didn’t irk me so much.

  14. I am enjoying this show, but agree with the flaws pointed out. I also am unhappy that Jane went from never having had an orgasm to hooking up with a guy and suddenly having an orgasm just like that because he asked her what she wanted. I felt that was far too simplistic.

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