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.