What is… going on with Kadena? In theory, I like this storyline a lot! As of last week’s episode, I was still pretty on board! I think two people in an established monogamous relationship opening up their relationship for various reasons and trying to navigate that and figure out what works for them is the kind of dating story that television doesn’t often tell. I think it’s important. I think a big reason why I personally skipped over a lot of important conversations about boundaries and rules in my early relationships was because I didn’t have much of a template for it by way of pop culture and unfortunately leaned on pop culture a lot to teach me about life. But enough about me! We’re here to talk about Kadena. And seriously… what’s going on?
I would be so enthralled by this storyline if it didn’t feel like it was just all… sort of being forced on Kat by Adena? First of all, they’ve taken the “making out on a dance floor and having a sex dream equals sexual curiosity” thing a tad too far. I mean maybe it could mean that, but also maybe it couldn’t? I would buy that it’s what it meant a lot more if it were coming from Kat herself. But pretty much the second Adena starts equating these things with Kat wanting to explore, Kat is like I don’t think that’s what this is! And Adena is like we should open up our relationship, here are the rules that I have obviously spent a lot of time outlining without any input or conversation with you, you can have sex with anyone during the week but weekends are ours and also don’t talk about any of it okay byyyeeeee! There is no conversation. There is no negotiation. There is no discussion about whether this is something that Kat really wants or not. Adena just sort of makes the call for her, and that’s weird! And not at all in-character for Adena?
I think these are incredibly important conversations for couples to have. But The Bold Type doesn’t make it a conversation at all. Adena just sort of unilaterally decides for them, and maybe if that were the story, if the focus somehow shifted to interrogate what it means when one person changes the terms of a relationship without really checking in with the other, then that could lead somewhere interesting. But that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. Instead, we awkwardly watch as Kat sort of convinces herself that this is indeed what she wants?
She hooks up with a cute Uber driver, and look, I’m all about awkward sex scenes on television. I think television sometimes forgets that sex, especially with a new partner, isn’t always 100% sexy 100% of the time, and sort of awkward new experiences can be intensely (if uncomfortably) relatable. But this is just another instance of another character kind of just deciding what’s best for Kat. It never crosses a line into non-consensual territory, but Kat also doesn’t seem so sure about being dominant in bed. It’s a weird thing for them to not discuss sooner, and The Bold Type just sort of bungles this kind of conversation about sexual wants again. There’s a lack of authenticity behind a lot of the writing of this storyline, and that’s confusing because The Bold Type has largely been killing it this season on the relationship and queer fronts. But I just don’t see where we go from here, and Adena needs to be taken to task for the way she thrust this on Kat.
Things aren’t much better on the Jane/Sutton side of things. It sort of just feels like The Bold Type wanted to do an episode about guns so they prioritized the issue over the characters, resulting in a messy and sometimes confusing storyline. Sutton relying on shooting club for a sense of control in her young life does make sense, but having her hold on so dearly to her gun in her adult life — in 2018! — does not. Ascribing the bad “people kill people” ideology to Sutton just seems forced and, again, a way for The Bold Type to explore an issue in a clumsy way that isn’t grounded in these characters or their relationships to one another.
Sure, there are cogent attempts to contextualize both Jane and Sutton’s stances, as with the aforementioned family drama Sutton experienced in her youth and with the detail that Jane is from a town outside of Columbine. But there’s still something missing, something too grand about Sutton’s attachment to her shotgun, a strange mapping of a hugely significant debate happening in our country onto this friendship. And for what? To show that it’s “nuanced”? I’m sorry, but in 2018, I’m perfectly comfortable with us not gotta-hear-both-sides-ing freakin’ gun control. Also, Sutton didn’t know the Columbine shooters used a sawed-off shotgun?! Am I being ridiculous for finding that hard to believe? I thought this was extremely common knowledge — it’s a detail that has even been mimicked by Columbine copycats.
So, no, I don’t think The Bold Type took on the American gun conversation in a particularly smart or important way. I think that the show is largely good at tackling current issues — particularly this season, but this wasn’t it. And the issue should never feel like it’s dominating the narrative but rather interplaying with the rest of the story and engaging the characters in a way that resonates and rings true.
And consensual non-monogamy is all about transparent and equal communication!!!!! It’s not just a decision someone makes for someone else!!!!!!!
But please, even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of this episode, let us not gloss over the fact that Sutton mentions that she maybe isn’t 100% straight.