The Bold Type 3x03 “Stroke of Genius” Review
Welcome back! I’m going to jump into this one with a disclaimer — the episode, and therefore this review, mention sexual assault. If anything surrounding this topic makes you even a little bit uncomfortable, please take care of yourself. You can skip this one.
This one is another heavy hitter for The Bold Type, so it’s natural that the supporting storylines serve as a buffer. Jane and Pinstripe deal with having to remain abstinent during Jane’s journey to freezing her eggs, and Sutton (through picking up extra responsibilities at work) realizes that being a fashion designer might be more her speed.
Kat had a more in depth storyline this week, following up with last episode’s hint that she might be venturing into the political arena. She ends up volunteering for the current councilman’s opponent, who is well-meaning but definitely not suited for public office. She’s a bit boring and a bit old fashioned, and during one of her campaign events her speech left a whole lot to be desired. This opened up a door for Kat — she was able to give a nice enough speech that apparently made the campaign manager think SHE should run instead. While Kat’s speech read more like an Instagram caption than a battle cry, I guess it does its job to get Kat where the writers want her.
I’ve said it before — The Bold Type has a unique talent when it comes to addressing hard hitting issues that most TV shows won’t attempt to address. The figurative heart of the show is always in the right place, so it’s naturally disappointing when they miss the mark.
The central story line of the episode belongs to Alex. He learns that he is the subject of a friend’s #MeToo story, which described a “hook up” with Alex (called Jeff in the article) in which she was pressured into having sex. This is a pretty transparent a reference to Kristen Roupenian’s short story “Cat Person,” as well as the allegations leveled against Aziz Ansari of sexual intimidation. This grey area belonging to men who think they’re “not like one of those guys” is definitely a conversation that should be had, but unfortunately that conversation wasn’t handled as well as it could have been.
Point number one — why Alex? The choice might seem understandable at first glance; the writers wanted to choose someone who holds viewers trust as a progressive and understanding man. However, choosing one of the shows few black men to accuse of sexually intimidating someone is problematic at best. His race is mentioned once by Kat, only to say that his race adds a “layer” to the issue. The harmful stereotype of Black men being predatory wasn’t taken into consideration when choosing Alex for this story line, and on a show with a few terrible white dudes to choose from, it shows a lack of thought.
The show has never known what to do with Alex, to be honest, and it especially shows in this episode. The path they set Alex on is clumsy, and so is the timing of everything he does. The episode reads like the writer’s room sat down and came up with a list of things for him to say and dropped him into situations in which to say them. He meets with Sutton, Jane, and Jacqueline, essentially dropping in on the women in his life to seek some kind of confirmation that he is in fact a “good guy.” These conversations feel out of place, sprinkled throughout the episode without any real “flow.” They serve more as monologues rather than natural conversations.
That’s not to say that the dialogue wasn’t important. It certainly was, and it’s an important conversation to have. Many men think anything short of a hard “no” is a yes, which isn’t true, especially in situations that involve a power dynamic. No one, no matter how progressive, is immune to ignoring signals. There are ways to say no without saying the actual word. If my friend asks me out to dinner and I respond with “Sorry, I’m really busy at work,” that’s my way of saying no, and my friend understands that. Now, that might be an oversimplification, but the principle stands.
Sutton’s conversation with Alex was my favorite. As usual, Meghann Fahy performed it perfectly, and her delivery of the Brooklyn apartment line was unreal. It’s true, too — sometimes it’s easier in the moment to do something that you don’t want to do because you’re afraid of the repercussions, you don’t want to make a scene, you don’t want to “overreact.” I think we’ve all been there.
The Bold Type airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on Freeform.