“The Bold Type” Episode 207 Recap: I Guess We’re Doing a Gun Episode?

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.


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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 116 articles for us.

22 Comments

  1. I agree. I would’ve dug an open relationship in the beginning of their relationship because it would have made sense. Now, The timing of the suggestion and the way it’s playing out makes it seems like a desperate last ditch effort to stay together. The funny thing is I don’t think either one of them want it. Kat accepts it because Adena frames this as something that needs to happen. The SL is problematic.

    They also generically bring up safety without talking about what that safety looks like between two women. Testing, nor dental damns, etc of the sort was mentioned.

    I fear next episode Kat will mess up in some way because Adena has already allowed Kat to break a rule. I think Kat will break another rule that’s going to force Adena to admit she can’t deal with the situation as is. That’s another thing. So far Kat hasn’t suffered any real consequences to her actions. The the bar is set so low for her. I’m starting to see how Adena can be in a 3 year relationship and not leave if this is a sign of how she bends to accommodate a partner. What I see is everyone centering Kat’s emotions includinng Adena and nobody is centering Adena’s emotions. I don’t think Adena is being completely honest.

    • Oh yeah something I forgot to mention: NO TALK OF STI TESTING? That certainly should have been a part of the safety conversation!

      And hmm that’s interesting that you see this as something Adena doesn’t want but feels that she needs to give Kat. I kind of read it as being something Adena wants (she seems to have been in open-ish situations in the past, no?) and imposes on Kat by FRAMING it as something Kat wants? Maybe that’s an overly cynical interpretation?

      • I agree that this feels like something Adena is telling Kat to do because she thinks that’s what Kat wants. And agree that the way it was introduced ruined what could have been a great storyline. Communication is lacking from both of them right now. I don’t know why.

      • I think it’s possible Adena has been in open relationships before. But if this is the case, why is she so quick to throw out the rules that she sat there and created (ALONE-might I add)? She knows the clear boundaries exist for a reason.

        And I don’t think Adena wants this open relationship. Everything about her is communicating a desire for a monogamous stable relationship in this phase of her life. Adena despite seeming like the mature one continues to play some important feelings close to the vest. I think Adena is trying to be patient because she’s bet everything on this relationship. I think Adena feels more vulnerable than Kat realizes.

  2. i agree, i just feel like nothing in this episode made sense. i wasn’t feeling the open relationship stuff, kat barely spoke about it, and just reacted and i’m like, THIS FEELS SO FORCED. and the gun issue resolved itself weirdly and yeah… really wasn’t into this ep.

  3. I keep reading these recaps before watching the episode so I can’t comment on everything, but I want to mention that I didn’t know that a shotgun was involved in Columbine before reading this recap (and had to go look up what a sawed-off shotgun is) so it seems very reasonable to me that Sutton wouldn’t know. Also, according to the internet those 3 characters were all born the same year as me so we were 6 or 7 when the Columbine shooting happened. At the time I was shielded from the specific details and afterwards there was so much else going in the world that even if that detail was mentioned to me I didn’t remember it.

    • Yes, I do think Sutton was wee when Littleton happened and wouldn’t know. But her sad little “that’s terrible but it wasn’t the shotgun’s fault!” response was… not Sutton. I don’t buy it for a second.

    • Sutton is actually a little older than Jane–her graduating class was given as 2007 in this episode, which would have put her in the 4th grade (so 3 years older than Jane). But, I agree, I am the same age Sutton would be, and I did not know the type of gun used either.

  4. I am getting so frustrated with the Kadena storyline. They JUST said they love each other, why can’t we just enjoy that for a few moments. I think this storyline is refreshing, to see how open relationships can work, but geez let them be a successful couple FIRST. Is this another instance of writers not knowing what to do with queer couples?

    • I give them props for at least trying to do something different/interesting with their relationship instead of another like “girl cheats with boy” or “girl waffles on being gay” storyline but yeah, it’s just not playing out too well?

      • Good point, and I give them props for that as well. But WHY did they have to do anything? It feels like the queer couple always has to have something happen to them. Just LET THEM BE, tv writers.

        Grrr.

        But I still love this show.

      • Yeah, it isn’t great, but at least it’s not Ye Olde Out-of-Ideas-Pregnancy plot. If I’m going to be unhappy about how they’re handling the queer storyline, this is at least a new and more innovative way to get me there. And they do seem to be building on the problem being a lack of honest communication and boundaries around the open relationship, rather than the whole idea of an open relationship full stop.

  5. Thank you for this review, I love The Bold Type and this is the frist time I haven’t liked any aspect of an episode. All of it was not up to their usual standar. It was weird. Like in theory the open relationship storyline could have been great, but the execution of it was so bad. I’m baffled.

  6. Perhaps I have lowered expectations for what to see on a TV show re: queer women, but I actually like the direction of the Kadena situation because it’s so awkward and messy. I’m a strictly monogamous person, but because of a LDR and my relative inexperience I was also nudged into being open by a partner. Helped me realize that I don’t like casual relationships, etc, but Adena naturally assuming the role of arbitrator in Kat’s “sexual awakening” feels plausible – Adena has more experience, therefore she outlines things for Kat to do, while Kat is very confused about this new queerness and the possibilities. Kat was expecting Adena to break up with her, so she’s probably just relieved that there is a different outcome, like “Oh, okay, I should see other women? Okay, I guess that could be fun, sure, I’ll give it a go.”

    Neglecting Kat’s actual feelings and having the conversation together as a couple isn’t *right*, but it certainly feels *real*. I suspect that this is going to get addressed in the show, since other problematic aspects of all of the characters are highlighted, even if sometimes it does feel very “after-school”-ish. I have to say, though, having two queer women discuss dominance/submissiveness in a very casual and awkward way is something I’ve never seen before on TV. Discussing sexuality without sexualizing or fetishizing is still pretty new for any female characters.

    On the gun front: as much as I agree with Jane, I was disappointed that Sutton gave up her gun because Jane successfully psychoanalyzed her. The “guns don’t kill people” line was complete bullshit, but guns are complicated and Jane never really did care about Sutton’s perspective unless it revealed some gap she could exploit to convince Sutton to only see it from Jane’s perspective.

  7. After watching this episode, I commented that I had really mixed feelings about this episode and, while I couldn’t really qualify it until reading this recap, Kayla. I think, like you, I really wanted to like this episode but didn’t.

    The whole move to an open relationship was just terribly executed. Maybe it’s a viable option for Kat and Adena, to bridge the experience gap between them, but it’s something that they should’ve spent A LOT more time discussing. It shouldn’t have been an edict from Adena and, if Kat had reservations, she should’ve spoken up. Both of them seem to be making decisions to accommodate the other person, without actually talking about what the other wants and/or needs. This isn’t going to work…not because it’s an open relationship…but because Kat and Adena didn’t do the work.

    The gun storyline was just haphazard. I appreciate TBT‘s willingness to place their lead characters on the wrong side of social issues, but it has to feel authentic and this just didn’t. Also? I hate when items that are so immensely important to characters materialize out of nowhere.

    But, really, though…tell me more about Sutton Maybe Bisexual Brady, though, Bold Type

  8. I’m really glad this show exists. There’s lots of things it could do better for sure, but it does seem like a show that’s actively trying to leave a positive impact on media.

    That being said, this open relationship storyline is a mess. I’m glad they’re not making Kat doubt her attraction to women, and even how they made her cheat (a kiss with another black!! woman!!) is really rare (and great) for television, but it seems like the writers maybe don’t know how to make the characters act out the story they want to tell in a way that’s believable and consistent with how they’ve portrayed the characters up until now. I don’t know if the complete lack of communication between Kat and Adena about sex and relationships is actually that new and surprising, I mean between Adena refusing to give her number to Kat because she was “protecting her” even though Kat practically begged and the public fight they had about sex acts, this weird communication seems pretty consistent. The weird thing for me is the silencing of Kat by Adena about what she wants (Kat said she wanted to explore with Adena and Adena shut it down because of her own beliefs about sexual exploration) that feels so off with who Adena and Kat have been shown to be separately and together. It would have been interesting to see a conversation about open relationship negotiations and boundary setting on tv, but it doesn’t seem great that of the little conversation we heard about rules in which Adena looked like she was dying as she was sharing them, Kat was trying to break/change them later in the same episode. Her speech about why was nice, but it doesn’t inspire confidence in how this is going to turn out later.

    I thought the gun story line’s conclusion wasn’t great and was really awkward and too neat and I’m so tired of Judgy Jane being judgy. But aside from the forced “guns don’t kill people” line, Sutton’s position made sense to me. It makes sense she would hold on to something that helped her survive through an, if not traumatic, then extremely trying childhood. Especially since she doesn’t use it and had no intentions of using it so it just seems like a bit of nostalgia like a blanket or a stuffed bear someone might keep into adulthood. The fact that her blindspot is that she doesn’t understand why a gun might be a more serious/troubling thing also makes sense: she did school-sponsored skeet shooting, she grew up in a very positive gun culture where kids who are literally in grade school have their own shotguns and rifles, and she didn’t know her type of gun had been used for such a violent attack so she was able to create a distance between her skeet shooting gun and their people killing weapons. I can appreciate how contained the show tackled the issue though (there was no shooting at the building or fictional shooting on their tv), it was just a dispute between two friends about a serious issue that I feel like a lot of people in this country may have had over the last few years with friends and family. It was so far from perfect and awkwardly placed and good lord was the resolution dumb, but I’m glad the show didn’t try to make it a big, huge episode.

    But anyway, I agree that the best thing this episode did was give us a potentially bi-curious Sutton. More of that, please.

  9. Swing and a miss for me on all fronts.

    What I was most looking forward following the build-up to Adena and Kat opening their relationship was the negotiation, so I was disappointed with how this played out. When Adena broke out her notebook during that talk, I assumed she was getting ready to write things down as they discussed, not to read off a list of rules. Perhaps the writers did this so that we would have fewer doubts about whether or not Adena really wanted this? I don’t know, but I was disappointed with how this played out. Also, I didn’t time it, but it felt like Kat got a lot less screen time them normal. I’m not pleased.

    Re: the gun storyline…lots of sighs from me here. The whole Sutton/Jane debate came across as a bit of a caricature. Oddly enough, it reminded The West Wing, when it would bring up a controversial issue, then pit the protagonists against conservatives, who were slightly left of right and therefore almost tolerable (see: Sutton’s “of course, I support stricter background checks”).

    I agree with Jane – Sutton absolutely should have told her she kept a gun in the house. I also empathize with how jarring it would be to suddenly find a close friend had a different opinion than you (or different opinion than what you assumed she had). However, I was frustrated with her holier-than-thou attitude and focus on bringing up pre-fab gun control arguments, rather than actually talking to her friend. And yet, I will give it to the writers’ that this felt very true to Jane’s characters. Of course, she would look up laws about guns and roommates (or however she did that Google search) rather than telling Sutton that she was hurt and frightened that Sutton didn’t tell her. For better or worse, that’s our Jane, using facts to process emotions. Also, I do not think it was necessary to put in the Jane/Columbine story. The Sutton we know and love (not the one we saw in this episode) would not have needed to hear that it “hit home” for Jane to listen to her; knowing Jane’s fear and anger about guns would have been enough.

    And what an interesting episode for Sutton…Before getting into the gun storyline, I wanted to note that something about the way Meghan played Sutton during that scene with Brooke really got me. I really felt for her at that moment, and I don’t think its a scene that would have carried any weight on another show or with another actress. And her moment with Oliver at the end was sweet, but I couldn’t enjoy it because I read it as a build-up to the other shoe dropping on that cocaine tab.

    Back to Sutton and the gun. Similar to Jane, her dialogue was filled with pre-fab arguments, but they didn’t end up making sense for Sutton. At the core, Sutton’s viewpoint rang true for her character, but the dialogue did not. I had accidentally seen before watching the episode that Sutton got rid of her gun at the end. I was expecting that Jane and Sutton wouldn’t agree or change each other’s minds on guns, but that Sutton would consider what it meant for Jane to have a gun in her home and decide to get rid of it because the needs of her friend mattered more than her hobby. Instead, we got Jane’s psychoanalysis, which wasn’t great but did plant several seeds about Sutton’s mom…

    TL;DR: Jane was Jane. Sutton wasn’t Sutton, but Meghan was great. Needs more Kat.

  10. This article did give more perspective. Thank you for that @autostraddle writer. As mentioned once, Kat always seem to look for answers from Kadena, like guidance or affirmation. Like what do we do, after the admission of the kiss and the dream, and the thoughts. Personally, I don’t think the dream or the thoughts should have been brought up–unless, this was prior to the I Love You’s which had a lead-in by way of Kat’s jealousy–no cohesion there. Anyway, rather than apologize or offering something…Kat never just listened. So, we see expressive Adena which was great last week. This is the primary ship on this show, so it is worth showing her POV, her reaction when she left–did she break down at all? Did she talk to someone? What, because all we get are bed scenes which to me signifies she’s stuck which falls in line w/immigration concerns. Anyway, she always accommodating Kat, Kat’s a grown-a$& woman, while she owned up to her f ups (she did cheat, bcz we know Adena thinks kissing is cheating) there was no regret (probably bcz she enjoyed it), but at the same time, no real emotion or apology for hurting Adena. I expected a bit more intensity between them, not arguing but true back and forth or why. Jump to 2X07, she calls the girl out by her name–why was this even necessary? Now, Kat did say “I could explore with you” or something like that, but Adena fed her the solution (which seems what Kat expects from Adena because she equates it with Adena’s experience, so she doesn’t question it really. But, it’s not just Adena, the writers actively say “Kat needs to explore.” The writers, the music supervisor, the twitter page–all of them, Kat needs to explore. Exploration doesn’t have to mean outside of the relationship. If anything do that w/your partner that you’ve committed to. But this was so one-sided, it’s hard to get behind. Not once does Kat say–I need to go bang other chicks during the week. There was no mutual agreement or discussion, just, here are your rules–do this, and we’ll hookup on the weekends. Then Kat already breaks the cardinal rule which is talking about sex you had with someone else–this has to hurt. This is where it really becomes dangerous territory because this could open up regret from Adena, maybe even resentment and insecurity. I don’t know of any woman who wants to know about her partner’s hookups. Not one. This even makes Kat come off as shallow, and she’s my favorite character, but it seems really insensitive. Sharing with friends–but not your girlfriend you “claim to love.” This ep just was off-putting and forced and rushed… I mean I could deal with the kissing scene, but telling Adena about thoughts of others, why wouldn’t this have happened earlier before the commitments? The storyline is clumsily executed thisseason. I know they want to capitalize off of their popularity, or maybe it’s the 10-ep arc which I don’t get, but whatever.
    The gun story, didn’t connect either. It was too accommadating for Judgey, whiny Jane. Jane had all this growth the last episode, then hit us with “what happened in grade school.” While tragic, this still didn’t make me feel empathy towards Jane. I wanted her to have her opinion and Sutton have hers and this probably could have spanned over two-three episodes easily. I don’t think Sutton should have given up her weapon, and Jane demonizing her for it based on tragic events. But the “People kill People” is BS–so wish they wouldn’t have that come out of Sutton’s mouth. Kat didn’t even contribute at all to this gun debate–and she’s known for being strong-willed and having an opinion. Yet here, between her two best friends–nothing. The writers want to create drama–I get that, I do, but this wasn’t cohesive. Kadena doesn’t even feel relatable right now it’s weird, it’s just two beautiful women who are girlfriends on the weekend? lol<–that's comic relief. Anyway, the rushed coupling of Kadena caused for this clumsy "exploration" storyline that looks like it will take us to the end of the season. My preference for them was for Adena to let her go, let Kat do her thing, and they reconnect later. The visa situation could have created all the drama we needed because it's very real. I have friends, people I work with going through serious stuff–getting stuck in their countries, waiting for month's for a visa appt. which you cannot miss or guess what, you now have to wait months 3-6 more months, meanwhile, you have belongings here in the states. Oh, and because you have a certain visa, you can't do remote work, because it's for work on US soil. This is not me, but very real for friends & co-workers; You have to go back to your country and leave your family here bcz your kid was born here and wife was sponsored. The fight for them to stay together could solely be about immigration while having us pissed off at US immigration. Someone said on twitter, Kadena had way more intensity when they were apart, then now, they're together, no emotion from the fallout; we see Kat mildly panic, but it was kind of stoic. There was a real fight for them to be together in S 01, and that struggle was nice and refreshing because what–representation! Does she love Adena? Probably. Does she know how to be in a relationship–probably not, this could have been a part of the development. They could have made her f ups center around working too much–we saw that on 2×01. Just a lot of choices, but they chose the cheating & open relationship, so we got to go with it. I don't think a lot will be fixed the remainder of the season, just more angst, and it's ok. The writers do risk alienating Kadena fans with the current storyline which they should be cautious because it's a big chunk of the viewership. I think we all just want stories that feel organic and relatable. Creative license at times is understood, but this was very unbalanced storytelling across the board. Ppl want well thought out stories, not just let's push the envelope again cause it's what we do. S3 can fix this. Meanwhile, I'm still here for the Bold Type, and I will be next season because, while the last 2-3 are cause for pause, they have provided more times than not good, relatable, positive stories, and representation and conversations like we have never seen. Can't get them all right. They do need to course correct the Kadena narrative–and they may have, I don't know.

  11. I really didn’t like the way they had an opportunity to finally explore polyamory or negotiated open relationships but instead you’ve got Adena pushing this into kat with all these rules but also it sounded immediately like Adena REALLY didn’t want her to do any of it! So why do it then if you think it’ll hurt you or if you think she might fall in love with someone else and leave you for them? Is this really the only options? Why can’t they have an actual conversation or show them do what any of us would do which is google the shit out of it.

    • Also it’s bullshit that they’re equating Jane pretty much having a TRIGGER with Sutton being attached to an object (that can kill people)?! Like I’m sorry your friend physically feels uncomfortable in the presence of this thing and you’re like “no I’m keeping it I don’t care” and she’s the one who has to do be understanding and do all the emotional labour???

  12. I don’t have anything nuanced to add to this but I do want to say that every time Sutton said “MY gun” I laughed out loud. Like…it was so bizarre to hear her repeatedly and emphatically call it that.

  13. I read this review before watching the episode and though I agree with the plot-devicey nature of Sutton’s gun narrative and even with Adena’s sort of strong-arming her and Kat into an open relationship…I was actually surprised that the recap didn’t really talk about Kat’s hook-up, learning about queer sex positions, and then this kind of wonderful turn at the end where she’s like “I know we’re not supposed to talk about this but I really want to share with you and I’m excited to share this information with you”…where she tells Adena how she liked being dominant. I thought Kat’s shyness and then brazen attempt at topping with a woman who clearly wanted to be a submissive was hot and pretty true to form and I really kind of loved the depiction of compersion at the end with Adena. Like, that is actually a new form of relationality–and a positive depiction of queer non-monogamy where I felt what would be exciting about that…where your lover is centralized as a deeply prominent friend with whom you want to share discoveries about yourself that are hot and exciting and somehow not negating of the relationship you share with that particular person. Like, Adena is still prioritized, but monogamy isn’t. I think that’s kind of brilliant.

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