“The Bold Type” Episode 105 Recap: Spinning Out

“No Feminism In The Champagne Room” is one of the most emotional episodes of The Bold Type to date, achieving the impossible by making a damn spin class the site of great joy and release. Pinstripe is conveniently out of town for the entirety of the episode, Adena sports an off-the-shoulder crop top that puts her on Oliver’s level of best dressed, and the voice that does the previouslies at the top of the episode is still inexplicably British. Time for another wild, snappy installment of The Bold Type!

The biggest problem with “No Feminism In The Champagne Room,” other than its disdain for Queens, is the biggest problem with The Bold Type at the moment: Alex. If you have to pause for a second to remember who Alex is, that’s my point exactly. Alex is the friend character played by Matt Ward who seems to only exist for the sake of helping the three main women. Sutton and Jane both seem genuinely close with Alex, and in each episode, he has given them positive reinforcement or advice about their career problems. In this one, he helps Sutton gain the confidence to demand a higher salary from Oliver by power posing with her. And he tries to assure Jane that her latest contentious piece is good. At no point do we ever see Alex working on projects of his own. I’m pretty sure the only thing we really know about him is that he watches porn, which he mentions in the second episode. I think he’s a writer, although I’m unsure what his beat is. His character seems like an afterthought at best and a token at worst. In theory, it’d be interesting to see friendship dynamics play out for Sutton, Jane, and Kat outside of their relationships to one another, but Alex’s scenes strictly serve to advance the plot rather than developing characters or even providing any thematic layering to The Bold Type.

At first, I thought the first couple of episodes were just too busy with exposition for the three main characters that there wasn’t enough real estate to get to Alex. But we’re five episodes in and we still can’t define him by anything other than the fact that he appears to be an omnipotent source of encouragement for the trio. I don’t see him having his own storylines or playing an active role in the show’s narrative any time soon, even though there have been little hints he could be another love interest for Sutton, seen here when their fun and flirty power posing session is interrupted by Richard. But it’s hard to see him as a compelling love interest since he is barely a character.

At the top of the episode, Jane’s excited about her most recently published piece, a profile of a former Wall Street executive who left finance to become a stripper, dancing under the name Morgan Stanley. Jane and Sutton head to the strip club to celebrate with Morgan, but instead she has them escorted out of the building by security. Jane ponders why Morgan could possibly be mad at her, and Jacqueline informs her that it’s even more serious: Morgan is suing Scarlet and their media parent company Steinem and has named Jane in the complaint. Working with the head of legal, who happens to be Sutton’s secret boyfriend Richard, Jane learns that Morgan is suing for defamation because Jane ultimately included too many discernible details in the piece, piercing her anonymity by outing her. Jane is immediately incredulous and defensive. She keeps reiterating that she painted Morgan as a feminist hero, that she finds her story empowering and inspiring.

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But Jane never stops to consider the actual person behind her feminist hero narrative. She was careless in her portrayal of Morgan, and then she makes matters worse by snapping during settlement negotiations. When Morgan says Jane exposed her, Jane retorts: “You expose yourself on a nightly basis; you’re a stripper!,” putting venom behind that last word. Jane claims to have portrayed Morgan as a feminist icon, and here she is judging her for being a stripper and completely stripping Morgan of her autonomy. Sutton ultimately points out her hypocrisy. Stigma against strippers is seen in little comments throughout the episode, including Jane’s outburst and also Richard’s insinuation that Morgan is only suing for the money (that’s especially misguided on his part because he knows she has a kid who has been affected by the article). I would have liked to see The Bold Type deal a little more explicitly with these themes, and Jane’s eventual apology to Morgan comes off as a little weak and self-serving rather than genuine. But at least Jacqueline rather bluntly states that Jane failed. The show acknowledges that Jane wasn’t in the right and also acknowledges that failure is unavoidable in life and writing. While it’s obviously fun to watch these women crush it, it’s also important to see them fail from time to time.

Fresh off her romantic, climactic kiss with Adena at the end of last episode, Kat immediately rushes to tell Jane and Sutton about how they “kissed for like hours,” prompting an extremely urgent meeting in the fashion closet, where all three squeal and dance. Jane and Sutton are almost as excited as Kat, and no one follows up with obtuse questions about how Kat identifies or what all this means. They’re happy for her, and she’s happy, too. Jane, Sutton, and Kat all support each other in many ways in both their work and personal lives, reinforcing the idea that friendship and coworking are not mutually exclusive relationship dynamics. On the work front, Jane and Kat are there for Sutton, who drags her feet when it comes to signing her paperwork to become Oliver’s assistant because the salary offer is less than she currently makes. Kat and Jane encourage Sutton to channel Nora Ephron by demanding more from Oliver and proving that she’s willing to walk away, but Sutton points out she doesn’t have the same safety net as Nora Ephron. Jane and Kat decide to be her safety net. Kat tells Sutton she can live with her, rent-free, until she’s able to get back on her feet. As someone whose writing career would not have been possible if not for the friends who let me live on their futon in Chicago for several months, I got very emotional about this storyline.

But it all pales in comparison to the emotional rollercoaster of Kat and Adena’s arc in the episode. After spending the night together, Adena tells Kat she feels guilty for cheating on Coco, her long-distance girlfriend in Paris. Kat tries to make Adena feel better by pointing out they didn’t sleep together, but that’s not how Adena defines cheating. She resolves to tell Coco but has difficulty doing so. She calls Kat at work to tell her she still plans on ending things with Coco, but Kat stumbles a little over Adena’s use of the big two-letter word “us.” While Kat’s on the phone with Adena, she’s also texting Jane and Sutton live updates of the conversation (this show’s portrayal of millennial smartphone use is a lot more realistic than most). Her multitasking leads her to accidentally tweet “this lesbian shit is intense!,” which should probably be emblazoned on my tombstone or at least a tank top, from the official Scarlet account.

This lesbian shit is indeed intense. In the span of less than 48 hours, Kat kisses Adena; Adena ends things with Coco; Kat freaks out about a potential committed relationship; Kat ends things with Adena; Adena accuses Kat of being a coward; Kat decides she wants to be with Adena; Adena decides to work on her relationship with Coco. Do you have gay whiplash yet? After the tweet incident, Kat contemplates whether she really wants a relationship. She has never been in one with anyone, and she prefers ephemeral hookups and one-night stands. She also seems to be guilty about getting in the way of Adena’s relationship with Coco, who calls twice when Kat’s over at Adena’s, causing Kat to walk out awkwardly. Kat also stalks Coco on social media and sees how beautiful her relationship was with Adena. After they break up, Coco goes full Cara Delevingne and posts a picture of a fractured heart. But as Sutton points out, it’s Adena’s decision to make. Still, Kat can’t shake the fears of entering a relationship with Adena, so she texts her “Sorry, I just can’t do this,” and then turns off her phone, which is the closest Kat will probably ever come to being a monster. Adena confronts her at work, calling her a coward and saying she doesn’t believe her, and the two have a full argument in the middle of the office, which is probably unprofessional but is, in my opinion, a stark example of Gay Realism.

Then Kat takes a spin class. Most recent comedies set in New York City have turned to spin classes for humor at some point. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt likened it to a cult. Jill in Odd Mom Out gets her ass kicked by the high stakes of Upper East Side spin culture. Abbi Jacobson is in the trenches of Soulcycle culture for most of Broad City. In all of these instances, depictions of spin classes in New York are used to make fun of the practice and the people who do it or to beat down the character. The Bold Type has a decidedly different approach that reflects the kind of show it is at its core. Sutton mocks the Scarlet spinning event, but other than that, the episode doesn’t really play Kat’s participation in a spin class for laughs. In fact, Kat finds genuine empowerment and awakening on her bike. As the instructor calls out platitudes, the words take on more meaning by scoring Jane, Sutton, and Kat confronting their individual obstacles of the episode. The affirmations resonate in particular with Kat, who realizes she wants to overcome her fears and take a leap with Adena. She cries, smiles, laughs, as she comes to terms with her own desires, and Aisha Dee is resplendent in the scene. Of course The Bold Type would take a setting used commonly for mockery and derision and turn it into a place of healing and self-realization. This show wants its characters and viewers to feel good.

So Kat runs, in slow-motion no less, back to Adena’s apartment and bursts through, ready to get the girl after all. Adena lets Kat apologize but then reveals that she has booked a flight to Paris to see Coco who has agreed to work on their relationship. With Kat and Adena, The Bold Type has spun a more complicated and realistic version of a will-they/won’t-they arc. They’ve kissed; their feelings are out on the table; but they keep getting in their own way, plagued by bad timing and bad communication. The final beat of the episode is a brutal gut punch, but it doesn’t color the show as suddenly dark or pessimistic. As with their professional failures, Jane, Sutton, and Kat’s personal setbacks flesh out the show’s emotional narrative.

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is a writer and critic currently living in Miami. Her fiction is upcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern. Her pop culture writing can also be found at The A.V. Club and The Hollywood Reporter, and she wrote the webseries Sidetrack. You can catch her on Twitter and Instagram.

Kayla has written 242 articles for us.

29 Comments

  1. This episode pissed me off. For all the self-praise and marketing of “#Kadena” Freeform and the actors did last week, this week seemed pretty clearly written by someone who either 1) isn’t gay and/or 2) just experimented in college. There was more talk I felt about how dramatic and fast-moving lesbians are than actually taking the situation seriously. It’s not like there is really any lesbian representation on TV right now (everything being queer/bi) so to have a self-identified lesbian, and a Muslim lesbian no less, cheat on her girlfriend was a low blow. I also really liked Kat in the first few episodes but to see her treat Adena so roller coastery was annoying and her big dramatic decision at the end was kind of immature and selfish and I think her first alone scene with Adena, when she assumed Adena was hitting on her, was indicative of how seriously she takes Adena’s feelings. All in all, I truly think Freeform was just queerbaiting last week and doesn’t actually give a fuck about gays, obviously particularly lesbians (especially because they were also responsible for Emily, most unlucky in love lesbian ever). Shonda does a better job than this and Shonda hates love and happiness.
    Ugh. I /amwas just so annoyed.

    • The ship is not sunk; just still in the harbor :). The two actors for Kat and Adena did an Instagram video telling us Kadena isn’t over, and spoilers for the second half of the season suggest that Adena will reappear. Don’t give up hope!

  2. “This show wants its characters and viewers to feel good.” – I love this. It’s so true. Even when they’re breaking each other’s hearts or my own heart, it never feels like emotional manipulation. It just feels real.

    I love these three girls and their friendship so much. That coming out scene, if you can even call it that, made my whole heart soar.

    Great recap, thank you. :)

  3. I made an account solely to comment on this because no one in my life is watching this stupid show (I say that with nothing but affection).

    It horrifies me that Adena told Kat her relationship with Coco was basically already over for other reasons and then went running back to her when Kat didn’t want to commit. Why! So unhealthy! I would have been so much happier if the reason for Adena rejecting Kat was that she respected herself too much to get into a relationship with someone who clearly isn’t emotionally ready to be in one.

    Sutton’s earnest little speeches at the end of every episode give me major second-hand embarrassment. Also it was super vindicating to see her angst about “oh no, my dream job doesn’t pay well” after watching her turn down a good job that she went to school for, with the full knowledge that her dream job would not pay well. Sutton! You knew this! It would have been cool to see a sympathetic female character take a high-paying job on the business side of the magazine even though it’s not her Passion.

    I’m so mad at everyone and I can’t wait for next week.

    • I really wanted Sutton to take that job too! So many stories are about following your dreams and miraculously things will turn out ok. I would’ve liked to see Sutton take that job and be surprised to, maybe not love it, but like it or parts of it. I was actually kinda bummed when she shot it down.

      • I third the sentiment that I would have been cool and different to see a character like Sutton actually WANT to take the ad sales job. I actually audibly sighed when she said her dream job was in fashion. It just seems like that story is so overdone! Sutton actually reminds me a lot of a good friend of my who loves fashion, but actually DOES work in ad sales and loves it. I think that would have been the more interesting story.

        Regardless, I DID love her telling Richard to let her be quietly determined and independent, and when she stuck up for herself with her friends who weren’t able to recognize the way her background affects her life choices. Those were two really great moments.

        • I comment earlier on a previous episode recap, but I also hate narrative that says that everyone should take their dream job. I think being able to do your dream job is a luxury that many people can’t afford. I think working at any job to support yourself +/- family is important/admirable. There are many jobs that are necessary for society to function but that are unlikely to be anyone’s dream job and we need people doing those jobs.

    • I am also SO frustrated by Sutton. Take the ad sales job, bank most of the difference in salary from her current position for a few years, THEN look into fashion? I don’t see why it has to be one or the other FOREVER – they’re all like what, around 25? I’m all for following your dream, but you have to smart about it – 4 years of ad sales could give her a really solid financial foundation and she could be back pursing fashion before 30.

    • SAME!! I’ve been thinking about how unhealthy that approach to a relationship is for a while (obviously, since this episode aired like a month ago). I kind of wish Kat had held Adena accountable in some way… like “Oh, you NEED to be in a relationship so if I can’t be your GF you’re going to go back to the woman you apparently had issues with before?” SO UNHEALTHY.

  4. Whew what a rollercoaster (the good kind) this episode was for Kadena (with a C it means lock lol)! I don’t think it was the last we heard from Adena… It is still too early to say if ship sunk.

    Let’s hope Adena feels really strongly for Kat and end things with Coco in person (that is always better than over the phone)

  5. I may be wrong but I believe that the narrator is British because the show is based on [some of] the experiences of Joanna Coles at Cosmo and she’s a Brit, and probably is the narrator too.

    I can relate to Kat’s to-ing and fro-ing about Adena and I have sent at least two versions of the “I can’t do this” text in my lifetime, but it would be great if by the end of the series Kadena are on track as I think it would be powerful to show such a great couple just enjoying spending time together.

    As for Alex I agree that his characterisation is odd. He’s almost a fairy godfather type; he doesn’t even seem to interact with any other characters that much, he’s just there to provide occasional advice or boosts to the main 3. If he’s going to be a love interest later on then he should indeed be given more of a backstory.

  6. My favorite thing was that Kat was just so relieved about all of this (in the beginning of the episode, at least). I don’t think I’ve seen a show or movie yet that has a coming out story where the character doesn’t stress about not being straight, even just a little bit. Like it surprised her in the first episodes, but never in a bad way. It’s refreshing, and I personally relate to it more than I do those other stories.

  7. I love Kat, and I love Adeena, and I love them together, but honestly, Kat needs to grow up. She’s obviously not emotionally mature enough for this relationship, not yet anyway. She could get there, for sure, but she’s not there yet. Unlike more people, I was NOT happy that to see Kat wake up in Adeena’s bed, because we knew Kat was not a relationship person, we knew Adeena had a girlfriend, and I didn’t think they were ready for that step. I was so relieved when Kat said they didn’t have sex.

    I in no way believe this is the end of the road for #Kadeena, or Kat’s sexual awakening. This is just the beginning. Hopefully, the next stage is Kat working to develop the emotional maturity she needs to be in a committed relationship with someone as self-aware and emotionally mature as Adeena. I really hope they can make this work. Because let’s be real, as much as I wanted that final scene to just end with Kat launching herself in Adeena’s arms, that would not have been healthy for either of them. I’d rather see them take a bit longer to get to something that’s real and can last then fall too quickly into something unhealthy and destined to implode.

    • IMDB is only updating as the episodes move along. There are 5 episodes left and Adena will definitely be in the last two (or possibly 3) based on the official episode descriptions that have been released. Also the two actresses have confirmed it’s a slowburn journey that’s far from over.

    • IMDB always update TV show information only as the episodes are aired. It’s a real pain for this sort of thing. Their argument is based in films – actors that are employed at have scenes shot are sometimes discarded in the final edit, they don’t release the data until the film is released and the final edit known. They do the same for a TV show. And although early in a show’s run they could do it, the final episodes are often being edited in the same week as they’re due for release so perhaps that’s a fair call.

      The stars are going to be there but the smaller parts could still be edited out. Less likely in a TV show than a film but it can happen.

  8. I was also annoyed with Sutton. I totally understand being stressed about the money (I also never had a safety net) and I think the advice her friends gave her was very realistic, but I wanted someone to point out to her that there are a lot more elements to this situation. Careers are long games, and if she wants to be in fashion this is a great first step. It will create opportunities down the road for her to advance in fashion, it’s a really important move on the chess board. Sometimes you have to accept something you don’t like for now in order to set yourself up for the future. I was glad she stood up for herself and I liked how she found things to ask for that would help her and not hurt Oliver. I was fine with the way she ended the episode, but I wanted to see her take ALL the things into consideration rather than it just being “I deserve more money!!” because careers are more complicated than that.

    I’m totally with you that Alex needs his own story arc because it’s not okay for him to just be Mr. Inspiration dude.

    I love Jacqueline. I love her so much. I loved that she didn’t sugar coat things for Jane. That she told her that she failed and had to keep going. That she wouldn’t let Jane make this about Jacqueline with her “I feel like I failed you” bullshit. I love how she gave Kat the chance to talk about what was going on but also totally respected when Kat wasn’t ready.

    And Kat. I had a feeling this wasn’t going to work out this ep. I’m still working out how I feel about Kadeena, but I just love how Jane and Sutton have been about this! No one is asking questions about labels, no one is asking how different it is to kiss girls, no one is saying “when are you going to tell your parents,” they’re just quietly supporting her and want her to be happy. And while I always relate to coming out stories full of personal struggle and angst bc that was my story, I LOVE seeing a coming out story that is so positive in terms of self perception.

    • I think the thing with Sutton, that didn’t come through as clearly as it should have, was that if Oliver wouldn’t budge at all, she couldn’t afford to take the job. She literally couldn’t pay the rent and eat on what Oliver was offering her. But if Oliver will basically feed her on the company’s dime she can cover the rent (is lunch in NY really that expensive?) and with Kat offering her rent-free accommodation if it all went wrong she could afford to stand up for herself.

      Taking the long view of her career is ok but if you literally can’t afford to live, can’t afford board and lodging, you have to make some tough choices. That doesn’t explain why she wouldn’t take the job and live with Kat rent-free or at some peppercorn rent anyway but for a lot of people being able to pay the rent and have somewhere where they feel they’re contributing is an important part of feeling like a grown up, going back to crashing at your friend’s house might be too much of a step back, certainly to ask Kat for – but again that should have been spelt out (although TBT is not really that sort of show so far).

      And yes, Alex definitely needs, if not his own arc, some fracking back story. Supportive friends are great but he’s just too great atm and it makes him bland. You know he’s going to be there for them. He’s a walking, just about talking, Gay BF trope, even if he’s not gay.

  9. I am enjoying the Bold Type and the friendship of these three women. I like you really wish we got more on Alex. While he is clearly the support of the main characters it would be interesting to know who he is and what makes him tick. But I have noticed that all other characters play the support role. The editor just comes in to give the women prep talks and so does Sutton BF so I guess we can’t expect more from Alex.

    I am not enjoying Kat and Adena. I think that both are way to immature for this relationship. Adena flirts with Kat only for it to be revealed that she has a long standing girlfriend. They spend the night together which Adena pursues only for the next day to be a guilt trip about Coco. Adena breaks up with Coco only for Kat to dump her via text. Adena than gets back with Coco the woman she allegedly had ongoing issues with. These two are not rootable.

  10. I love these three women screwing up and calling each other out on their screw ups and growing and learning and supporting each other. I love that the drama between them isn’t catty or silly it’s about the real mistakes they make and the differences in their backgrounds and their approaches to achieving their goals, and most of all they’re not in competition for anything.

    So much seems to happen in each episode! Kat has seemed immature from the very first episode, imo, so not much about her behaviour was surprising, although that didn’t stop me from yelling at the screen to NOT DUMP ADENA BY TEXT.

    I can’t help but root for each of them, regardless of the mistakes they make.

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