“The Bold Type” Episode 210 Recap: Caught in a Bad Romance

In its second season finale, The Bold Type heads to Paris and… makes some very weird story choices! I’ve had my issues with this season, but I’ve also overall thought that The Bold Type has really come into its own, playing to its strengths and providing even more of the lighthearted fun that makes this show such an irresistible summer treat. It’s serious when it needs to be, but it’s also sugary sweet, an escape that’s very pretty to look at and also makes you feel good. I love television that makes you feel good! We need more of it!

That said, this finale is all over the place when it comes to its confusing and occasionally unsettling messages about romance, love, and relationships. As it turns out, Sutton and Richard are endgame?! Who wanted this?! No one!!!! Sure, it has been implied all season that Sutton still longs for Richard and has been fucked up by how seemingly quickly he moved on with someone else. In the finale, Richard’s father dies, and Sutton and Jane go to the funeral. There’s a moment where Richard talks about appreciating life and taking bold risks, and Sutton sadly realizes he’s talking about his new girlfriend. And then when Jane overhears that Richard is meeting with a jeweler while Kat and Sutton are on a work trip in Paris, they all jump to the conclusion that Richard’s going to propose to the new woman.

I thought, initially, that this was heading in an interesting direction, showing just how devastating it can be when someone you used to date moves on with someone else. Sutton’s moment at the funeral feels cathartic, a resolution to move forward and try to heal. BUT THEN! When Sutton absolutely slays her job in Paris, she tells Oliver that she’s sad about her success because she has no one to share it with… an attitude toward relationships that seems distinctly anti-The Bold Type. So often, this show is about how the three friends have each other, and while romantic relationships can be fulfilling and fun, they aren’t wholly defining of their individual worth. Here Sutton is, LIVING HER DREAM, and she’s sad because her significantly older executive boyfriend (WHICH IS STILL PROBLEMATIC EVEN THOUGH SAFFORD HAS THAT DUMB POLICY) isn’t there by her side? That doesn’t feel like Sutton, and that doesn’t feel like The Bold Type. Wasn’t her whole reason for breaking up with him because she valued her dreams/career more?

But the really confusing part is how Oliver responds. He tells her to go get her man. He literally tells her to leave in the middle of her work trip to chase after an ex-boyfriend, which is so wildly unprofessional and not to mention goes against everything we know about workaholic Oliver? He tells her to never run away from love which is, frankly, bad advice. I hate when film/TV perpetuates the idea that love makes everything worth it, that people should do wild things for love. It’s just… not that simple! There are times when you definitely should run away from love! Like when it’s hurting you or other people (which doesn’t necessarily apply to Sutton and Richard’s situation, but I just needed to say it). Also, I immediately thought of Richard’s current girlfriend who was totally there for him during this traumatic death of his father, and then he just ran away to Paris to get back with his ex who dumped him?! WHAT! I sorta hope she sets one of his suits on fire.

Jane has a little love story of her own when she learns that her health insurance policy won’t cover freezing her egg and both Ben and Pinstripe make big plays for her heart by each offering to help her out. In this case, The Bold Type does take the story in a direction that feels more in line with the show’s ethos by having Jane write a column about how she doesn’t want a man to save her; she wants a more fair health insurance policy from her employer (Safford’s policy covers Viagra and vasectomies but not fertility treatments). After some hesitation, Jacqueline publishes her column calling out the board, which puts Jacqueline’s job on the line. And even though Jane writes what she writes, she still feels the pressure to decide between Ben and Pinstripe after the latter’s grand declaration of love. Jane faced a big decision at the end of last season, too, but this time, The Bold Type saves it as a sorta low-stakes cliffhanger.

Sutton gets her big (and honestly baffling) Paris romance, and Jane gets to go to Paris after all, and Kat… gets her heart broken? But first, she makes a wildly inappropriate choice to seek out Adena’s ex Coco and ask her why she doesn’t work with Adena anymore. Friends, do not seek out your partner’s ex without checking in with your partner about it first?! Adena has a right to be upset about it to be sure. And it’s not exactly the most productive conversation between Kat and Coco. In fact, Coco delivers the devastating news that Adena hasn’t been producing work since moving to NYC and then, just in case Kat didn’t come to this conclusion on her own, lays it on super thick by saying that it means Adena hasn’t produced art since they started dating. Ouch, Coco.

So Kat and Adena talk, and it’s revealed that Adena feels creatively suffocated in their relationship. It has long been suggested that Adena has never been in a monogamous relationship and also was often in long-distance situations, so she seems to associate a lack of independence with an inability to create. My heart broke for Kat. That is… a very tough thing to hear. And it also recasts the whole open relationship thing in a new light.

I’ve said all along that I felt like Adena wanted the open relationship more than Kat did. Even though it came about supposedly because of Kat making out with someone else and having a certain curiosity, Adena was the one who suggested it and even PUSHED it, outlining the new rules of their relationship with very little input from Kat but framing it as something Kat needed. Maybe she wasn’t being intentionally manipulative, but it still felt… manipulative. And this new development really drives that home.

It’s a confusing character choice for Adena, one that sort of calls into question exactly what Kat and Adena had together. There was always a sense that things escalated too quickly between them, that they didn’t build enough of a foundation together, which sometimes made it confusing why exactly they were together. At the same time, Kadena garnered so many shippers, and the writers seemed, at times, to play to that fan enthusiasm. I’m not saying that writers should bend to the will of shippers at all times, but there does seem to be an inconsistency with the way Kat and Adena’s relationship has been written. The biggest problem is really with Adena and how flat she has been as a character all season, existing only in terms of Kat, hard to pin down in her motivations.

The finale has its fair share of funny (Meghann Fahy has been killing it with the Sutton comedy all season!) and touching moments. I still love this show, I do. It’s just… a confounding finale in many ways. It tries to do a lot at once, and while a lot of it is connected to the characters’ season arcs, it still feels forced. There’s something in the air in Paris making everyone really bad at relationships and communication. Kat, Jane, and Sutton have each other at least, but that doesn’t even seem to be the core message of the finale. And the biggest “feel good” moment of the finale belongs to… Sutton and Richard?! Again, WHO ASKED FOR THIS? Also, I would like to restate that never running away from love is bad life advice, Oliver! And that’s coming from someone who loves romantic comedies and loves when The Bold Type plays around with rom-com tropes. But in this case, The Bold Type really does seem to be sacrificing cogent writing and character development for the sake of an easy, sticky-sweet romantic plot between two characters who are very hard to root for in this context.

And now Jacqueline might be fired?! The Bold Type, why you gotta hurt me?!

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 136 articles for us.

27 Comments

  1. Welp, Kayla! You took all of the words out of my mouth.

    I’ll publicly say it: I didn’t mind the big Kadena fight. (I’m sorry, guys!) It was devastating, and I love them and want them to work, but it felt like the first time I really got Adena all season. It put their entire “open relationship” into a new light, and that new light made more sense (though still unfair to Kat) than when the storyline was first rolled out. I wish we could have seen more of these internal struggles for Adena earlier in the year. I would have liked to see her figure out and weigh what it means to crave independence for her art vs her love for Kat. Seeing those self-negotiations would have strengthened Kadena’s season two arc and been fascinating to watch on screen.

    The fight made sense, but it should have felt cathartic and unavoidable. I think if we had spent more time with Adena, earlier, that would’ve helped.

    NO ONE ASKED FOR SUTTON AND RICHARD. NO ONE WANTED THIS.

    (Oh, did anyone else catch that Jacqueline’s job is on the line while they are in Paris, much like Miranda Priestly in Devil Wear’s Prada? I enjoyed the subtle storyline wink to the The Bold Type’s predecessor.)

  2. I would sooner buy Miranda Priestly advising Andy to make things work with Alex than Oliver suddenly being “screw work, go get him.” Also why would you put that notebook and your phone so close to a full bathtub, Sutton?

    I am glad they kind of justified Jane going to Paris and not like oh she pitched Jacqueline another half baked story idea and that’s why she’s going. But between Ben and Pinstripe, choose yourself Jane! Or whatever I don’t really care. I mean, if she has to choose, I’m Team Guy Who Doesn’t Kiss Ladies Who Have Boyfriends After Offering to Give them Money.

    Kadena I don’t even know, is the show actually pointing out they haven’t developed Adena as a person?

    ALSO OTHER PEOPLE AT THAT FERTILITY CLINIC MIGHT WANT A FANCY COOKIE. THEY ARE NOT EVEN GOING TO PARIS.

    • Oh yes, the macaroon-stealing, too. I know it’s supposed to be a cute “sticking it to The Man” scene, but it isn’t the clinic’s fault that her insurance doesn’t cover their treatments? Not to mention a lot of people aren’t at the fertility clinic for fun; it’s pretty disrespectful of the patients struggling with infertility or other issues.

  3. I agree with Carmen, I’m glad there is some logical justification for the distance that has been between Kadena this season, but overall I’m still disappointed. We never saw anything from Adena’s view. Obviously a show needs drama but give the lesbians just a few weeks of calm please? jane has been anxious but generally happily bobbing along with Ben all season… Sutton had a solid spell with Richard last season. I just want 1 happy kiss for Kadena for like 4 eps in a row is that so much to ask? now they’re gonna spend all of next season dramatically and angstily getting back together or breaking up for real, my little heart can’t take it

    I’m also not a fan of Richard – I think even more than Sutton prioritising her career, she broke up with him because he didn’t give a shit about it, which is a much bigger reason not to get back with him – but the straight women on Instagram seem to be very psyched about this reunion so they can have it as far as I’m concerned if it means more of the bold type.

    Oh and if we lose Jacqueline I am going to KICK OFF. But I have faith in her to pull something out of her hat next time

  4. Great review, you really expressed most of what I was feeling. The OR storyine was a mess from the start, and now to make it seem like Adena had ulterior motives to suggest it? even worse. I still love the show but they made some questionable choices regarding Kadena in the last 4-5 episodes of the Season and they really changed Adena from a fierce, provocative, groundbreaking character in season 1 to someone that is only there to serve the plot and to further Kat’s development. I hope that changes for season 3, if we get Adena in season 3, at this point I don’t even know if we will.

  5. 1. Who brings their all-important work notebook into the bathroom, fills a bathtub, balances the notebook on the relatively narrow edge of the full bathtub, then turns the page to knock it into the water? Sutton.

    2. Who brings up an idea to their boss in private, has it rejected, waits to bring it up again in front of someone from outside the company only for him to awkwardly explain why he has rejected the idea, and then contradicts him again without even addressing his reasons for denying the idea, completely undermining him? Sutton.

    3. Which member of the Fashion department of a magazine leaves a working trip to Paris in the middle of Paris Fashion Week to pursue romance? Sutton, although that one’s not her fault, since she refused until she was ‘ordered’ to leave.

    Conclusion: Sutton IS good at her job, but she wasn’t in this episode that was meant to be her proving it to herself.

    • YES. I just can’t with this show and the “It’s OK to ignore/contradict what your boss says, since you’re a Millennial and you know better!!!!” (I say that as an actual Millennial myself.) Not saying everyone should blindly follow orders without considering them, but jeez, respect your elders, Scarlet youngens.

  6. Aside from my complete boredom with “No Lips” Richard, his reunion with Sutton makes no sense from a story standpoint. UNLESS the network/producers felt the show really needed this (it didn’t). And to top it all off, they made it feel like a weird John Hughes – Nora Ephron mish-mash. I swear Sutton and Richard (and even Oliver?!) were quoting lines from Hughes/Ephron movies. Soured the mood even more for me. And I’m typically a rom-com fan. Very disappointing season finale.

  7. I am so pleased that we are all on the same page with Sutton and Richard. I cannot imagine sending an employee home during the middle of a huge work event to chase after an ex who may or may not even be into them and also JUST SUFFERED A DEATH IN THE FAMILY AND SHOULDN’T BE MAKING BIG DECISIONS who also ALREADY HAS A GIRLFRIEND! Like his g/f isn’t a full character to us but still, that’s a dick move and makes me really not like Richard. Also Sutton is young, is Richard really the love of her life?

    Everybody in this episode was very out of character except for my nemesis, Jane Sloan.

    honestly folks, i am afraid they are going to replace Jacqueline with Jane

  8. Like everyone else, I was pretty disappointed in this episode. When Freeform announced that the show had been renewed for two seasons after the first one, I thought it’d meant that we’d get more longform storytelling but, instead, we’re still getting this OOC behavior to justify ill-conceived storylines.

    I’m so disappointed in the path they took Sutton down. Kayla’s totally right about how Richard’s father’s funeral felt like the perfect resolution for that relationship and then they went and ruined it. And then, on top of that, to have her give up this opportunity to be at FW in Paris to run back to him…like, WTF? The modus operandi of The Bold Type has always been to center the girls’ friendship and here was the show saying the most vital thing to Sutton, at that moment, was to share it with Richard…it felt so antithetical to what this show’s been for its entire run.

    (And, geez…pretty much the only thing we know about Oliver is that he’s an unrelenting (but fair) workaholic, so having him push Sutton to chase after love was absurd. Did they confuse him with the other black guy on the show? Because it kinda sounded like something Alex might say.)

    My big frustration with the Kadena story was that it felt contrived…like, there was really so much story to tell about Kat navigating her first relationship and Adena’s immigration status, they didn’t really need to create this additional obstacle for Kat and Adena to overcome. I hadn’t even considered how manipulative it makes Adena look to have concocted an open relationship to give her more freedom to do her art.

    One thing about the first season of TBT that I loved was how topical it was and this season they seem to have gone out of their way to avoid that, particularly when it comes to Adena’s immigration status. A gay Muslim woman won her visa approval from this administration (!!!) in less than three months with no headaches? And, since it’s a work visa (that’s the best description they’ve given on the show), Adena had to have produced something to mollify her case worker, but she’s still arguing with Kat about how she hasn’t produced anything since they’ve been together. BOTH OF THOSE THINGS CANNOT BE TRUE!

    Ugh, it was just so frustrating…and just…bad…

    (Aisha Dee still looked like fire in that suit though.)

  9. ugh, i agree with every thing. sutton and richard = blerg. jane’s storyline wasn’t terrible, but i’m personally so over pinstripe. and kadena just makes me mad bc adena’s character just comes across as shitty/manipulative with little development. i also hope that jacqueline is not fired!!!
    this episode also gets some more negative points from me bc i really hate the sutton messing up terribly plots – like that episode where she lost some expensive jewelry for work. i just find myself really stressed out, lol.

  10. I completely agree with everything in this synopsis EXCEPT…

    As much as I don’t want to lose Jacqueline, I actually think that’s really good TV. She’s been pushing the envelope and encouraging other Scarlet writers to do so and I think it’s really gripping to actually see fallout from this. I am pretty sure I know who is gunning for her job and I’ve actually seen this coming all year. I also don’t think we’ll lose her permanently–this is a feel good show after all.

  11. I am so frustrated with the Kadena storyline this season, it’s like they put them together to immediately break them up. I get what the writers were thinking, conflict is more exciting tv, but they didn’t even allow them to have a solid relationship first. Why not give them conflict TOGETHER AS A COUPLE instead of conflict so Kat can find herself? Adena was such a strong character last season. Grrr. I love this show, it is a really feel-good show for me, but this storyline sucks.

  12. [Sheepishly] I must be the only person who likes Sutton and Richard together. Yes, the power imbalance is troubling, but I dunno…the way she talked about him to Oliver won me over! (Although agreed, nobody should be making big life decisions after a major death!)

    The bathtub-notebook thing pissed me off too. Saw that coming a mile away. WHY SUTTON WHY

    Kat consistently pisses me off, and this episode was no exception. Um, way to assume Adena’s creative block was ALL ABOUT YOU, Kat. Maybe try direct communication with your gf before leaping to self-centered conclusions?! GAHH. I guess she’s a realistic rich 22?-year-old, but her immaturity is so infuriating. (See also: when she brazenly contradicted Jaclyn about deleting the comments section.)

  13. I’ve been loving your reviews all season and I’m going to miss them along with the show even though I’m v grumpy with it right now. Can’t the queer couple get 5 seconds of happiness??

  14. This was the episode that made it painfully obvious that they changed showrunners. Honestly, from the beginning, it’s been clear that the head writer had no idea how to actually write a lesbian relationship, and had no interest in doing so. So instead of Nikohl getting the storyline she deserved as a regular, she was just there as “Kat’s girlfriend” or not in the episode at all. Also, why didn’t we see ANYTHING about the immigration process?! Kat and Adena working towards that is something I would’ve loved to see. Adena becoming friends with Sutton and Jane is something I would’ve loved to see. Why are the girls a package deal when it comes to all of their SO’s except Adena?! Also, did they break-up or just have a fight?! CAN WE PLEASE GET SOME RESOLUTION HERE?!

    I don’t mind Sutton and Richard as a couple. I mind Oliver telling Sutton to leave in the middle of not just a work trip, BUT PARIS FASHION WEEK. THE BIGGEST WEEK OF THE YEAR IN FASHION. And doesn’t Richard want to settle down? Is that even remotely what Sutton wants right now? She’s only 26 and in the middle of establishing her career.

    This is the one episode where Jane had the least-frustrating storyline.

    Thank God S3 was confirmed is all I have to say about the finale.

  15. I was so confused by the cheesy Sutton / Richard reuniting scene that I thought she was going to wake up and discover it was a dream while she was asleep on the plane on her way to see him. Them getting back together was certainly unrealistic, but the completely over the top way it happened was also ridiculous.

  16. ALL OF THIS, and also…

    When are they going to address Sutton charging $500 (!) of drugs (!!) on her work credit card(!!!)? I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop – I thought for sure Jacqueline would bring it up in that budget meeting – but there’s been nothing.

    I mean, it’s tough because I love Sutton as fashion assistant, but buying drugs with a work credit card is grounds for immediate termination. That’s just such a mind-boggling display of bad judgement and faulty ethics. And obviously the Bold Type has some sort of bizarro-land hierarchy w/r/t hiring and it not being a conflict of interest for one of the most powerful people in the company to date an assistant?? But SHE BOUGHT DRUGS.

    I really like Sutton as a character, but she needs to face the consequences of her actions. And also get over Mr. Power Imbalance and find someone cuter. Possibly a lady. Maybe Kat??

  17. I honestly don’t get why people are sh*tting on this season so much? I mean it did have its problems, but overall I thought it was better executed than season 1, which had some very, very cheesy moments and sometimes really terrible dialogue.So I agree with what Kayla said at the beginning.
    Anyways, the Richard and Sutton thing was hinted throughout the whole season, so it didn’t really surprise me. And honestly I just want Sutton to be happy, even if it annoys me as much as straight relationships annoy me.
    This is apparently an unpopular opinion, but I actually liked what they did with Kadena this season. I know we want queer couples who are happy and stay happy for as long as possible, but that’s also *boring*. And as Kayla said, if you think about it this is totally in character for Adena. Let’s remember she did cheat on Coco with Kat, so it’s not surprising that she’s more comfortable in open relationships. I love that we got to see Kat exploring her bisexuality, specially since season one made so many comments impliying that Kat was into guys and ONLY Adena which is unrealistic and also such a cliché.
    IMO Adena has always been treated as Kat’s love interest, this is not new. Just as Pinstripe or Richard or literally any other of the love interests. And honestly I’m glad her immigration storyline got resolved quickly because I didn’t want to see her suffer even more, we got enough of that last season. Also. guys. this season they actually had a queer writer in the room, Michelle Badillo from Vida and ODAAT. And it really showed! The sex scenes were better, the conversations felt more real, even if it was messy at times.
    I love this show despite its faults and I’m gonna keep watching and loving Sutton and Kat and maybe (MAYBE) Jane.

  18. I know this is an old thread, but I just got hit by a thunderbolt and had to share.

    If Kat and Adena had watched Season 03 of Lost Girl, it would have been such a great catalyst for conversation … Bo and Lauren, well, wow.
    Somehow this little queer treasure was forgotten too soon, or was never loud enough to begin with.to the thunderous ships of teens romance. I’m just discovering it for myself and having a blast.

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