“The Bold Type” Episode 201 Recap: Let’s Talk About Sex!

The Bold Type is back and gayer than ever! And some things just never change! Richard is still the worst! Kat can still make me cry at the drop of a hat! Jane is still bad at her job! The fashion closet is still an epicenter of powerful female friendship! Welcome back, The Bold Type. I missed you.

The season two premiere, released a week early on Hulu, picks up shortly after the events of the season one finale. Jane’s settling into her new job at Incite, the Vice-like publication where she’s about to launch her own vertical called Feminist Army. Sutton’s still killing it in the styling world (yay!) but also still apparently a little hung up on Richard (boo!). Most importantly, Kat’s back from her little international vacation with her girlfriend Adena. Yes, they’re using the girlfriend word, and yes Kat is 100% heart-eyes for Adena, who has secured a three-month visa and returns to New York to live with Kat in her absurdly nice apartment.

Let’s start with Sutton, whose arc in the premiere at first looks like it’s going to take a very bad turn but then ends up landing somewhere unexpected but welcome. In a staff-wide meeting, Richard (her much older ex-boyfriend who is not necessarily her direct boss at work but still ranks higher than her which has all these unsavory power dynamics to it) explains the magazine’s new sexual harassment and coworker relationship policies that are…kind of perplexing. Apparently, anyone who wants to have a relationship with a coworker has to disclose it but so long as they do, they’re protected from legal ramifications or something? Richard didn’t write the policy, but he’s instantly jazzed about it, explaining to Sutton that they can finally publicly be together without fear of backlash at work.

Well, he can date her publicly without fear of backlash at work. Because he’s a man in a position of power. Sutton soon realizes that she doesn’t have that luxury. In fact, when two other people on the fashion team become convinced that Alex is only giving her styling credits because they’re sleeping together (they did indeed sleep together once), they lash out at Sutton and accuse her of sexing her way to success. It’s completely unfair, but Sutton also knows that there won’t really be any way for her to stop rumors like that if the truth about her and Richard were to get out. So instead she ends things with him once and for all in a move that’s incredibly mature on her part. She comes off as more emotionally mature than Richard, who should probably take this as a sign to date people his own age/who don’t sorta work for him!

Jane, meanwhile, is pretty focused on launching her new brand of feminist journalism. But like I said up top: She’s not great at her job! As a woman who works in media, it’s just a little frustrating for me to watch this white girl constantly fail up. Her mistakes and oversteps are often framed as “risks,” but this premiere is a classic example of Jane actually just being a bad journalist who puts herself before the story and also perpetuates white feminism. Even just hearing her say “She-E-O” in a pitch meeting is cringe-worthy. Jane decides to profile the founder of a company supposedly doing some good: a menstrual cup start-up that donates a cup to homeless shelters with every cup purchased. Only…the company hasn’t actually been fulfilling that promise for a while, and when it was, people using the cups in the shelters were getting infections from them because of their lack of access to sanitation. As a woman at the shelter explains to Jane, these cups were designed for privileged people.

Jane actually flirts with the idea of not exposing the founder and the company’s lies and missteps with handling this issue, thinking that doing so would undo the good that they have done. Not only is this bad journalism; it’s just plain old bad. Thankfully, she does end up writing the truth, but the episode ends on the cliffhanger of her realizing that her editor souped-up the headline to make the company sound extra nefarious and call the CEO out even more. Which is, hello, how online publishing works! Gotta get those clicks, Jane! Maybe (hopefully) Jane will learn some important career lessons this season.

Of course, I have saved the best for last. Kat returns from her escapades with Adena super ready to show her off and call her her girlfriend. But Adena seems…not so into it. As with the Sutton arc though, this storyline ends up landing somewhere completely unexpected. At first, I read the hesitant energy coming from Adena as her feeling annoyed about how much time Kat dedicated to work and to her friends. But that wouldn’t be in-character for Adena, and it wouldn’t be particularly interesting storytelling either.

Rather, The Bold Type goes somewhere much more real and vulnerable. In an outburst at the Scarlet party, Adena brings up the fact that Kat never goes down on her. Sutton and Jane are there to swoop Kat into an emergency fashion closet meeting about it. I love the specificity of how they only do big talks in closets rather than bathrooms—personal touches like this make the friendships at the center of this show so believable and grounded. Kat confesses that she’s scared, something a lot of people can feel about their first queer experience. Her friends are supportive and encouraging in a beautiful way.

Then in her conversation with Adena, even more emotional stuff comes bubbling to the surface. Adena admits her own insecurities about the situation since Kat had said something about not seeing herself being into lesbian sex when they first met. The fact that The Bold Type brings this back up is brilliant character-based storytelling, revisiting something from the past to give it new meaning and stakes in the present. Adena and Kat conclude that they need to communicate more, especially since they’ve moved very quickly in their relationship. It all feels so honest and emotional.

And then the payoff is, well, sexy as hell. Yes, on the surface level, it’s just a really hot lesbian sex scene between Kat and Adena. But it’s made all the hotter by the fact that it follows an earnest and open conversation between two partners about their comforts, desires, and insecurities. Emotional honesty is sexy. Bless The Bold Type for harnessing that.

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 168 articles for us.

16 Comments

  1. I loved how open and honest Kat and Adena’s conversation was towards the end of the episode. And then the ACTUAL end, yasssssss!!! I’m rooting for them all of the time.

    HOW is Jane so bad at her job?! I cringed when she said “She-E-O” too and then was screaming at the TV when she ran into Jacqueline and completely spilled her article to her because I thought it would lead to an obvious “twist” of Jane being scooped by Scarlet. Luckily, Jacqueline is smarter than that! But Jane needs to slow her roll, damn.

  2. I have some questions:

    – Is Jane bad at her job? Since when? And what was she supposed to do in this episode that she didn’t? Like… she did the right thing, no? I’m confused.
    – How is Incite like Vice? Vice is trash.
    – Is that really how online publishing works? I’ve seen similar twists (“oh no, the editor changed the whole meaning without telling me”) before and always thought it was unrealistic. Because that seems immoral and unprofessional as hell to me. People do that? Fuck.

    • I don’t know much about journalism but the editor i think has the final word about content. I feel like a good editor would give the writer the heads up / give the writer the opportunity to rewrite the article in a frame that works for the medium… but Jane sent her work VERY last minute (i would have been fucking pissed as an editor having to do that job at 7am).

      But then again i’m talking out of my ass here :p

  3. Yes! Finally we got a proper Kadena sex scene. The one given to us last season was awful because they were intercutting with Sutton and Alex sex scene. It left a really bad taste for me personally. Like hey, the only way we can show a lesbian sex scene is if we show it happening at the same time with straight sex. Ugh.
    And i’m glad they also could talk about sex explicitly. Shows hardly ever do that.

  4. I also loved how Jacqueline was super professional and kind, but also clearly like “girl, you don’t work for me anymore, therefore I’m not obligated to mentor you through your fuck ups.” Because, Jane, YOU LEFT! You don’t get to keep the constant attention of the head of the magazine you just quit.

  5. *sneaks into the conversation* Yes, hi, hello. Does anyone else ship Jane/Jacqueline because they’re subtext trash like me? Because THIS EPISODE, I MEAN. Just curious, mkaythanksbye. *jumps back into my trash home.*

    • Yes, I think Jane/Jacqueline have way more chemistry than Kat and Adena (although I haven’t seen this ep). Adena is frigging awesome, and while Kat is cute, I don’t get what Adena sees in her.

      As for J/J, yep, Jane is clueless in a lot of ways, but at least she’s trying to learn. And willingness is good.

      I found a cute and pretty well-written story on AO3 from someone who obviously feels similarly. I really liked the characterisations, for all the characters. https://archiveofourown.org/works/12091425

      (I just wish the writer did something a bit more explicit as well, because the explicit stories I found with this pairing didn’t really work for me.)

      • Yes! I’ve devoured everything on AO3 (since there isn’t much to begin with) with their pairing. I just need more!! Lol If I had more time and motivation I might try my own hand at a one shot or short fic, but… we’ll see if I have any spare time after vacation. This episode provided plenty of fodder, that’s for sure! The dressing room?! Jane desperately seeking out Jacquelin at the party?! *sigh* I know, I’m terrible.

  6. I watched this episode tonight with my wife and we ended up in a conversation about how, when you’re so used to not seeing yourself represented in media, actually seeing yourself for once feels so welcome but also SO AWKWARD in a big way. The conversation about sex between Kat and Adena was so genuine, and it could have been ripped directly from discussions I’ve had on my own couch. But the intimacy of watching that actually play out on a screen – wow – usually there is this critical distance of either the conversation following an established trope, or sex conversations being had by heterosexuals or something that makes me feel separate from the scene. But this, I was right there in it with them and it made me feel very seen, but also feel so vulnerable, having something so relatable out there in the wide world.

    I’m so glad this show is back! I love it and none of my friends will watch it! Excited for more recaps!

  7. Yeah, pretty much everything about Jane and her career makes me cringe. So glad for the other two girls (and Jacqueline obviously).

    But seriously what WAS that ridiculous new workplace dating policy? “In light of the current climate, we’re going to approve 100% of all intra-workplace dating, regardless of the power differentials, as long as you give us a heads up!” That seems like the kind of policy that protects harassers rather than the other way around. (They did some bullshit like that over on Younger this week, too, in some weak effort to justify the icky Charles/Liza inappropriateness.)

  8. jane was so annoying in this episode, she’s way too mainstream for incite, which in the scope of freeform is basically anarchist, as depicted by their Very Edgy Covers of People With Dyed Short Hair Kissing, Woman Standing Around Marijuana Plants, and Riot Cop. i’m just glad adena got her pussy ate

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