The Bold Type 2x05 "Stride of Pride" Review
After last week’s… less than stellar episode, I’m thrilled to report that the fifth episode of the second season of The Bold Type is one of the strongest I’ve seen. The current issue of this episode, white privilege, was addressed and discussed extremely well. The B plot involving Sutton and an accidental affair with a married man was super touching, and just the right amount of comedy was thrown in that made everything genuine and relatable.
Let’s get into it.
The major theme of this episode is diversity, and more specifically, we see Jane forced to check her white privilege. Especially with today’s current political climate, it’s always nice to see television shows touch on important topics like this. With The Bold Type, not only do they dive head first into tackling this issue, they call out the MAIN CHARACTER on her inability to see her white privilege.
Jane, still unemployed, manages to land an interview through a connection with Pinstripe with a Scarlett-esque magazine called Yes Girl. She seems like the perfect fit — the interviewer is impressed with her previous work and they also hit it off on a personal level. Jane is ready to add Yes Girl to her resume and rejoin the workforce.
Not so fast, Jane. Pinstripe calls her after having drinks with his friend — the woman who interviewed Jane — to tell her that she isn’t getting the job. Apparently the magazine is in the middle of a large push for diversity in their writing staff, and Jane didn’t make the cut. Jane is understandably upset, but in her frustration she blames the diversity initiative for her lost opportunity. This rubs Kat the wrong way, and in a tense exchange between them Kat questions why Jane is only supportive of diversity as long as it doesn’t affect her, with Jane defensively asking why Kat is acting like she’s being racist. Yikes.
Obviously, Jane has a right to be sad that she didn’t get the job. Her sadness isn’t the issue here, however. In fact, she’s angry, not sad, and that is a direct result of her white privilege. That job was never hers, yet she’s acting as if it was stolen from her. This is classic white privilege in action: a sense of ownership because of who you are. In Jane’s case, this was her job. In more extreme cases, its instances of “this is MY land,” “this is MY country,” “these are OUR jobs,”... you get the idea.
What makes Jane think she was perfect for the job anyway? Just because she would have done it well doesn’t mean she would have done it the best. She knows nothing about the other candidate, but assumes they were chosen because of who they are and not because of their credentials. In fact, the episode goes out of its way to show us why Jane wouldn’t be the best fit.
First of all, during her walk to the interviewers office, it’s pretty clear that Yes Girl needs some diversity. Sure, they have a lot of women. To be more specific though, they have a lot of white women. That perspective is already present and accounted for pretty thoroughly. Jane also mentions in her interview that she lives in Greenpoint, to which the woman interviewing her casually replies, “you and half our office.” They literally already have an office full of Janes. The job posting mentioned that they needed someone who could touch on topics relevant to millennial readers, and we all know that millenials aren’t all white women. There are MUCH better voices for this opportunity than Jane.
Not to mention, it was Jane’s privilege that got her the interview in the first place. She had the work contact — Pinstripe — who had a connection to the magazine. She has the appropriate college education and degree. She has professional experience in the industry and published work that possible employers can easily review. Trust me, Jane will be more than fine without this job.
Unemployed Jane is actually starting to get pretty annoying; let's hope this pity party doesn’t last much longer.
Later on in the episode, Jane and Kat have an AMAZING follow up to their earlier, tense interaction. Obviously, Kat knows that Jane isn’t racist, but her white privilege is shining through. Kat brings up issues I’ve previously stated — how does she know she was perfect for the job? Isn’t it problematic to assume that the chosen candidate got the job because of this diversity push? Isn’t complaining about not getting a job because you’re white more than a little entitled?
Aisha Dee does a fantastic job in this scene; she’s super effective as someone trying to explain to their white friend as gently as possible that they’re being a problematic asshole.
Jane is still defensive and still upset despite Kat’s reasoning. She reminds Kat that she’s unemployed, she has no insurance, she has insane student debt, and she doesn’t receive any financial help from her father. She also throws Kat’s privilege back in her face — Kat is very well off, her apartment and bills completely paid for by her parents. Her father even got her an internship at Scarlett when she left college. Kat admits that while this is true, it isn’t the issue here — they’re talking about white privilege, and Jane is drifting from the topic.
To sum it up, Jane expresses that she’s simply upset that she didn’t get a job that she needed and that she knew she could do, all because of something not in her control.
In a great turn around, Jane ends up explaining in her frustration why diversity hiring is needed in the first place. Kat is quick to respond with, “Welcome to the existence of every person of color.”
What made this episode especially effective wasn’t only Jane’s discovery of her privilege, but we see that story paralleled when Kat gets the go ahead to hire someone for the social media team at Scarlett. She expresses frustration with the lack of variety with resumes she’s reviewing. She’s seeing the same person over and over again in her search. Ivy league school, great internships, etc. The whole point of this new hire is to get a new voice at Scarlett, and that isn’t going to happen if she’s sifting through resumes identical to her own.
She then gets some great advice from Oliver: broaden her horizons. He sagly points out that the only people who submit their resumes to HR are the ones who know how to get to HR. He explains that the only reason he came to work at Scarlett was, while working backstage at a fashion show serving coffee, supermodel Naomi Campbell noticed his outfit and offered to get him an internship at Scarlett. Oliver also points out that at that time, as a gay black man, this once in a lifetime opportunity was the only way he would have made it in to Scarlett. So, Kat decides to dig a little deeper and tweets the details of the new job opening in order to get new candidates fresh off social media.
She quickly notices a girl named Angie, who has a super slick reply on twitter to a Scarlett article about Kim Kardashian’s “boxer braids.” She calls it like it is: cultural appropriation. Kat is impressed, and upon further inspection Angie also has an impressive amount of followers on social media, as well as a high interaction rate. Her voice is fresh and new, and the numbers back it up. She’s brought in for an interview, and Kat is more than impressed with her. Angie is THE voice that Scarlett needs.
Unfortunately, Angie is rejected by HR. It turns out that she didn’t finish college, and therefore doesn’t meet the graduation requirement to be employed at Scarlett.
Kat is ready to fight, and she brings her research. She talks with Richard about the injustice of the rule, and how it's also counterproductive for the company. These rules that are put in place prevent the best people for the job being hired. The rule about college graduation is especially discriminatory. College entrance exams and applications are usually racially and economically biased, which decrease the chance that minority students will get accepted. Even if they are accepted, they then face the hurdle of paying for college.
It’s exactly like what Oliver said to Kat previously: just because someone was fortunate enough to have an opportunity doesn’t mean that they will be perfect for the job. That’s why almost everyone on the board at Scarlett is a white man: it’s the white men that have the ability and the money to go to great schools, secure great internships, and by default get the jobs.
I’m SO glad that they didn’t just leave the diversity hire storyline to Jane. Sure, her conversations with Kat provided great insight, but showing Angie’s story directly besides Jane’s made this so much more effective. Jane doesn’t know who got hired at Yes Girl, so neither do we. It’s would be easy to say “Well, I know Jane’s being problematic, but she should have gotten the job!”
Instead of leaving that portion of Jane’s story open for interpretation, we see Angie: perfect for the job, smart and talented, and a perfect example of why companies have diversity initiatives in the first place.
Diversity hiring can be a tough topic to discuss, especially with people who don’t know very much about it. I think we’ve all heard one of our uncle’s say something along the lines of “they should hire the right person for the job and not worry about race or gender” or “so what if there are only 23 female CEOs? I guess that means that only 23 women are qualified to do that job, then.”
First of all, if anyone thinks that the lack of diversity is simply because more white men are better at doing these jobs than anyone else…. There’s a bigger issue going on here. Qualified people are not being hired because of biases, and that’s a proven fact. Let’s break it down, shall we:
As of 2016, fewer CEOs are women than are named David
Racially diverse teams outperform non-diverse ones by 35%
Blind applications lead to five times more women being hired
African-Americans are 16% less likely to get invited to job interviews
Teams where men and women are equal earn 41% more revenue
Diversity hiring doesn’t keep white men from getting jobs (or in this case, white women) — it ensures that employers hire qualified people that they wouldn’t have otherwise considered. It’s also no surprise that the people complaining are usually white men. If you have a chance to look into the psychology of white and/or male privilege, it’s actually pretty interesting. For example, men have a tendency to believe that a decreasing bias against women is associated with in increasing bias against men.
To bring this back to Jane: it’s also very common for interviewers to have an unintentional bias, and more often than not people end up hiring someone that reminds them of themselves. The woman who interviewed Jane could have easily done that, only focusing on how well her and Jane got along, and what Jane has accomplished individually. She wouldn’t be focused on what Jane could bring to the team, and as a result the candidate actually right for the job would have been passed over.
As for Sutton, it seems like she’s doomed for a life of heartache. After a promising one night stand with a guy named Dillon, she decides to invite him out to karaoke with Jane and Kat. After what happened with Richard she’s ready to get back out there, and Dillon seems like the perfect guy to help her do that.
Due to the lyric screen freezing during karaoke, Dillon hands Sutton his phone so that her, Jane, and Kat can finish their song. A text pops up from a woman named Allison. Not missing a beat, Sutton leans into the mic and asks him, “Who is Allison?” He tries to minimize the situation, asking her to step down so they can talk about it, but Sutton isn’t having it. Honestly, this moment was gold. She doubles down and asks, louder and into the mic for all to hear, “Who is Allison?!” It turns out that Allison is his wife, so Sutton swiftly kicks him out of the bar.
While Jane and Kat are navigating diversity and privilege, Sutton is struggling with her situation. She ends up finding Allison on Facebook and seeks out Kat’s advice as to whether or not she should tell her about the accidental affair.
This moment was so touching, and not just because of any guilt Sutton felt over the situation. She tells Kat that growing up, she saw men like Dillon use her mother, and she didn’t want to be complicit in it happening to someone else. It’s a possibility that Allison would blame Sutton, but that’s a chance she’s willing to take. She tells Kat that even if Allison isn’t on her side, she’ll be on Allison’s.
This was such a great example of female solidarity. They made the situation about making sure Allison was okay rather than focusing on Dillon. Telling Allison the truth wasn’t to make Sutton feel better, it was so Allison could be aware of how poorly her husband was treating her so she could move on.
Allison ends up asking Sutton to meet, and it turns out she isn’t angry at Sutton at all. Sutton tells her exactly what happened, which differs from Dillon’s story. He told Allison that Sutton was a crazy stalker from work. You know, the usual thing men say when trying to shift the blame on the women in his life rather than admit any wrongdoing himself.
I’m so happy that The Bold Type decided to call out their main character on her own privilege, and I’m equally as happy that they turned a cheating story line into women uplifting each other rather than making it about the man. This show doesn’t get the credit it deserves for crafting these stories perfectly; I hope we get more of this show for as long as we can.
The Bold Type airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on Freeform.