The Bold Type 2x04 "OMG" Review
To be perfectly honest, this week’s episode of The Bold Type was a chore to review. This was definitely a filler episode, setting up our characters for future conflicts as well as resolutions, but the main plot points didn’t resonate as impactful or even important, even though I’m sure they were intended to be. Sutton’s conflict about her new work connection and the Kadena declaration of love were the only exceptions.
In this episode, we see Jane go on a few official dates with Dr. Ben. Unfortunately, this storyline seemed forced and resolved too soon. It also doesn’t help that Dr. Ben is the most boring character I’ve seen recently on television — during one of their dates (playing Scrabble, guys) he refers to pizza as “za” in a horrible attempt at a joke. Is he Jane’s date or her 55-year-old step dad? Unfortunately, instead of that moment coming across as cute, it was just cringy.
We also learn this episode that Dr. Ben is pretty religious, praying before him and Jane’s lunch without a preface. Jane is caught off guard, and that’s pretty understandable. The only people I know that pray before they eat are my grandparents, and they both work in a literal church. We also discover (along with Jane) that he has a tattoo of a cross on his forearm.
By the way, a quick Google search confirmed that doctors aren’t allowed to have visible tattoos, but I’ll forgive this one as an obvious plot device.
Jane is not only caught off guard, she’s put off by Ben’s obvious religiousness. While discussing this with Kat and Sutton they bring up a good point: why does religion have to change their relationship? Kat is dating Adena, who is Muslim, and Jane herself used to have a Jewish boyfriend. Why is she fussing about religion now?
I’m actually on Jane’s side here — being religious and spiritual are two different things. Religion can be really offputting for certain people, millennials especially. The percentage of Americans who declare no religious affiliation outnumbers those who identify as Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist combined, with their numbers comparable to those who identify as Catholic. I wouldn’t mind a potential partner being spiritual, but being so religious that they pray before a meal? That seems like a large chasm to cross.
We learn later on that Jane’s distancing from religion came from her childhood, when her mother was diagnosed with cancer and died shortly after. She was told to pray for her mother, and when that obviously didn’t work, those around her tried to comfort her by saying that it was alright and that her mother was with God. I have to ask — how is this comforting? To a child, especially? Jane is supposed to find comfort that her mother is no longer with her? This caused her to become disillusioned with the church and with God.
Back to Sutton and Kat’s point — Ben’s religion is too close for comfort. Her Christianity growing up didn’t look like Judaism or Islam, so she can separate her feelings easier. With Ben, the similarities are too close to home. He’s praying to the same God that let her down, and that makes her incredibly uncomfortable.
Jane ends up apologizing to Ben, explaining her childhood, and Ben in turn explains how he manages to be religious and function as a doctor in a scientific world. Basically, Ben admits that God is a comfort to him, especially after all he’s seen as a doctor. Despite this deeply personal monologue, Ben is still such a flat character that to be honest, it’s difficult for me to even care about Jane’s character arc this episode. I’m sure this religion storyline was meant to add some depth to him, but I’m not feeling it.
Dr. Ben is such a cliche — he’s a doctor with a big heart who works too many hours at a hospital that doesn’t pay well, all to serve the community. He fills out paperwork for his patients when they find it too complicated or time consuming. He has a quick and slick answer for everything Jane asks, and any time he talks about his job he descends into a heartfelt speech about “doing the right thing.” He dances with a women who is about to give birth as a quirky way to get the labor going — honestly, he reads like a fanfiction character that dies tragically in the third chapter to teach the main characters some kind of moral lesson.
We also see Jane meet up with Ryan (fondly known as “Pinstripe”), her former….lover? Friend? Co-worker? This looks like the beginning of a love triangle, according to Sutton. Pinstripe’s smooth, playboy persona is definitely the polar opposite of Dr. Ben’s way too strong moral compass. After briefly helping Pinstripe get some good gossip stories for his job at Page Six, Jane decides that she doesn’t want to be the type of journalist that benefits from ruining other people’s lives and exposing scandal.
Now, this can’t be the last we see of Pinstripe, and I HOPE this is close to the last we’ll see of Ben. For once though, something refreshing is happening on the internet (don’t @ me) — instead of the “Team Ben” vs. “Team Pinstripe” war that I was sure would take over The Bold Type fandom, we have a third and better option: Team Jane. This option emerged pretty quickly, suggesting that no one is really feeling either of these men as possibilities for Jane. While Pinstripe is infinitely more interesting than Dr. Boring, it would be great to see Jane explore her career as a badass journalist. Interesting doesn’t equal the best choice, ladies. And neither does boring.
Let’s move on to Sutton — again, the only part of the episode that didn’t seem flat. We know by now that Sutton is the true definition of a go-getter, but we do see some of her insecurity peek through this week. While introducing herself and Kat to an influencer named Brooke, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Sutton isn’t as far along in her career as she would like to be. Both Sutton and Kat have been at Scarlet for the same amount of time — four years — and while Sutton JUST made the promotion to fashion assistant, Kat has been the head of her own department for a while now.
She also finds herself comparing her success to Brooke, who also works with the fashion world. How did she find so much success while Sutton works so hard and seems to be going so slowly? Kat responds with “You work hard, you hustle,” but Sutton does all that. It turns out that Brooke’s mother is a buyer for the high end store Barneys; apparently connections are also a huge part of success.
Having connections and access is a huge hurdle when trying to break into an industry, and more often than not this part of success is left out of the “American dream” narrative all millennials have had forced on them. We all know that hard work is important, but not a guarantee that you’ll make it as many people treat it. There’s a tendency for older generations, or people with obvious privilege, to assume that those who aren’t successful or who don’t make a lot of money simply haven’t worked hard enough. I wish that this was the modern topic of the episode, not the religion storyline that fell flat and probably didn’t resonate with many people.
In an attempt to make some of these allusive connections, Sutton goes out several times with Brooke and her well connected friends, which leads to them putting a $500 “miscellaneous” charge on her Scarlet corporate card. When confronted, Brooke casually admits that she added some “party favors,” aka cocaine, to the bill. After some panic, Sutton accepts the charge, willing to take a few risks to help her career along. By staying close with Brooke, she has access to everyone that Brooke has access to. Sutton is no stranger to making sacrifices for her job, but it’s a little hard to believe that an entry that amounts to over $800 would be easily accepted as just “client drinks.” I’m guessing that this is going to be a pressure point for Sutton going forward for at least the next few episodes, if not the rest of the season.
Now for Kat and Adena. While better composed than Jane and Ben’s story this episode, Kat and Adena’s brief conflict also fell flat for me. The whole thing was a bit clumsy — Adena gets an invite to a friend’s party at a local lesbian bar. She doesn’t want to go, but Kat insists on meeting the people in her life. Once at the bar, Kat realizes that they’re basically surrounded by Adena’s ex-girlfriends. This makes her a little self-conscious. To make matters worse, when she asks Adena how many sexual partners she’s had, Adena avoids an actual answer and instead says, “the past is the past.”
That’s the sound of a red flag, everyone. While there is most likely no reason for Kat to worry, Adena’s dismissal and refusal to answer the question leaves Kat more worried than before. Is Adena hiding something? Sutton makes things worse when Kat confides in her and Jane about this. Apparently Sutton asked the same question, and received the same answer, from her college boyfriend who happened to be cheating on her. Now, I’m sure Adena isn’t cheating, but it is odd to me that she refused to answer the question. If the past truly has no bearing on the present, then what harm is there in sharing with Kat?
At this point, Kat is a bit of a mess. She’s spiraling, and jealousy isn’t a good look on her. She overanalyzes every woman that Adena seems to recognize, remembering that she and Adena started to become close when Adena was still dating her former girlfriend.
Eventually Adena does open up to Kat, but the conflict seems unnecessary. When Kat opens up about her worry that Adena could easily move on from her, Adena assures her that this isn’t the case. She’s risking a lot to be with Kat: she’s trying to find work in a country that doesn’t want her, she’s missing being home for her mother’s birthday to be in that same country; she wouldn’t be making these sacrifices if she wasn’t truly in love with Kat.
I will concede that this was a great moment for Kat and Adena, and Adena’s explanation of what she’s going through to be with Kat was very well-written. But the conflict could have been easily avoided, and for a couple that have been so open with each other in the past, it seemed slightly out of character.
All in all, this episode was a miss for me. Two out of three of this episode’s storylines were weaker than usual for The Bold Type, so let’s hope they bring the usual fire back next week. Without Dr. Ben.
The Bold Type airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on Freeform.