English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: Jessica Barber

Jane Sloan in The Bold Type: What?

From questions about sexuality, in-office hookups, missing $5,000 pieces jewelry in cabs, fashion shows, and very forward conversations about female anatomy, The Bold Type seems to have everything that a young millennial audience could wish for in a Freeform show. The show has gained much popularity due to its classic storytelling of three young female best friends who live and work together at the Cosmopolitan spinoff magazine Scarlet.

It is true that The Bold Type escapes television’s “norm” of conversation topics; however, it seems to have failed at representing certain aspects in the women’s jobs. Don’t get me wrong, in a Freeform show, you would expect everything to work out for the protagonists and their careers… but with it being such a forward show, you would also probably expect some more relatable struggles for the characters.

And then there’s Jane.

Image result for jane sloan in the bold type gif

Can you say yikes?

She’s a writer at Scarlet whose job was to produce articles that ranged from female doctors to rape victims to the BRCA gene for cancer development. Respectable. However, during the writing of these articles, her character experienced no problems with the actual process of writing such delicate stories (Syme).

She is always met with the supportive guidance of her editor, Jacqueline, and always is successful in her deliverance of a popular article. Even during her short unemployment stint in Season 2, her most notable struggle was simply making a barista mad by only ordering a mini biscotti at a coffee shop.

Jane makes constant comments that seem to propagate from a lack of political awareness, markedly. At one point, she matter-of-factly explains to Kat and Sutton that “Judaism is more of a lifestyle choice in New York.” Question mark?

Anyways, it’s not quite clear as to what moral comes from the character of Jane throughout the two seasons. While Kat and Sutton respectively struggle with a homosexual relationship and nonstop errands in the fashion department, Jane is met with a lack of character development and career struggles.

As the other women are met with rewards from their hard work and success in the workplace, Jane leaves her job, finds another one, gets fired from that, goes unemployed, receives an award for her writing, and then is rehired at Scarlet. Her “struggles” effectively disappear into thin air, and she is happily back with her two best friends in the end. Big whoop.


Works Cited

Syme, Rachel. “The Tough Issue The Bold Type Won’t Tackle.” The New Republic, 31 July 2018. https://newrepublic.com/article/150293/tough-issue-bold-type-wont-tackle-season-2-review, Accessed 13 November 2018.

Silence and Emotional Maturity in The Bold Type’s Writing

The season one finale of The Bold Type provided yet another topic of interest that isn’t much discussed in modern television — the lasting effects of sexual violence. In contrast to our class’s viewing of Sweet/Vicious a little while ago, “Carry the Weight” provides viewpoints that aim towards recognition of sexual assault survivors instead of their revenge.

At the very beginning of the episode, the show’s three protagonists, Kat, Sutton, and Jane, are seen running through Central Park. The upbeat music quietens as Jane sees a woman standing under a gazebo-something-or-another (it was weird, okay?), and the focus switches from the three protagonists to the serene woman.

The woman, Mia, holds two weights in her hands, which the audience later learns to be representative of the emotional trauma that she still endures from her assault. Later in the episode, Jane asks Jacqueline, Scarlet’s editor-in-chief, if she can write a story about Mia and her mission. Jane later notes that this story was indeed her first pitch as a writer at Scarlet.

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Jane and Kat speaking with Mia (middle, right, and left, respectively)

Here with Jane’s writing topics and the implied rekindling of Sutton and Richard’s romance in the elevator, Sarah Watson, the writer of this episode, completes a full circle within the realm of The Bold Type. Watson also wrote scripts for the show’s first and second episodes, “Pilot” and “O Hell No” respectively. However, a key difference in Watson’s earlier scripts and that of the finale is the repeated use of silence.

In this episode specifically, silence is used to portray the importance of certain scenes. Here it is implied that the three women — usually acting upon happy, go-lucky whims, mind you — fully understand the emotional maturity and development that stem from their encounters with Mia, their past lovers, and even with Jacqueline, who decides to finally come forward as a rape survivor, twenty years after her assault.

On a similar note, the theme of extended silence is further mirrored in the episode’s soundtrack. For example, when Jacqueline symbolically takes the weights from Mia, MILCK’s song “Quiet” blasts the lyrics “I can’t keep quiet!”, a nod towards Jacqueline bringing light to her past. The episode later ends with Brooke Candy and Sia’s “Living out Loud”, another play on the breaking of silence.

Overall, writer Sarah Watson effectively wraps up the show’s first season by tying the earlier episodes to the last one. A few more plots are opened, like Kat deciding to go travel with Adena. (Mixed thoughts about Kat to come in the next blog post, perhaps.) But until then, the audience can count on The Bold Type refusing to play clean with what “should be” discussed on television. Watson’s recognition of effective measures that can be used to bring light to and empower sexual assault survivors serves as hope for society’s future conversations on- and off-screen.


Works Cited

Shoemaker, Allison. “We Need The Bold Type, and This Finale Proves It.” AV Club, 6 September 2017, https://www.avclub.com/we-need-the-bold-type-and-this-finale-proves-it-1800019688. Accessed 6 November 2018.

“The Bold Type Official Music Guide Season 1.” Freeform, 2018, https://freeform.go.com/shows/the-bold-type/news/the-bold-type-official-music-guide-season-1. Accessed 6 November 2018.

A Brief Overview of The Bold Type’s Focus on Gender and Sexuality

Freeform’s The Bold Type is assuredly a classic interpretation of three female best friends struggling to make their way through their early adulthood. However, the show has gained much popularity due to its increased modernism and forwardness. (I mean, look at its name.)

The relationships, personalities, and decisions of Jane, Sutton, and Kat dominate the show’s storyline with as they work at the fictional women’s magazine Scarlet. Though the three women work in the same building, each has her own respective struggles that she must overcome, and this focus on their differences builds a strong, diversified viewership. The show rarely places focus on characters other than the three women and their romantic interests or professional jobs. For this reason, it has established itself as a concrete medium for the portrayal feminism in the working world.

Even within the first episode, it is evident that the show solely focuses on the female gender. Topics from relationship drama and falling outs to fashion expertise and upward mobility struggles draw in predominantly young, female audiences by providing them with relatable themes. Male characters exist heavily in the background of the show; they are always seen to either submiss to female characters’ decisions or act as an obstacle that blocks the females’ progress.

However, the audience has yet to be introduced to a nonbinary or trans character (as of S1E8, that is). Non-heterosexual topics are addressed as the show monitors the workings of Kat’s personal life, but this seems to be the only insight into the existence of LGBTQIA+ themes on the show.

Image result for the bold type kat and adena gif

Adena (Left) and Kat (Right)

Kat is seen to first question her sexuality upon befriending Adena, a lesbian photographer who challenges Muslim stereotypes. The show focuses on the slow establishment of their relationship, and it has gained immense accreditation for outright ignoring television’s norms of not discussing homosexuality-dependent conversation topics (Gilchrist).

Despite a lack of characters whose sexualities and gender identities differ from those most visible in television in general, the focus on an openly bisexual character is a step in the right direction. The Bold Type has room for further recognition of more gender identities and sexualities, but its work so far has provided a good starting place. Its focus on women, especially those of the LGBTQIA+ community, makes it a top contender for primetime television.


Works Cited

Gilchrist, Tracy E. “The Bold Type’s Frank Oral Sex Talk is Breakout TV for Queer Women.” The Advocate, 18 June 2018, https://www.advocate.com/television/2018/6/18/bold-types-frank-oral-sex-talk-breakout-tv-queer-women.

‘The Bold Type’ Changes Its Colors in for a More Somber Hue

During the binge-worthy first season of The Bold Type, the audience is constantly provided with an array of color and various objects in the background of the show’s predominant scenes. Light pastels and trendy patterns always seem to be floating around behind the characters’ faces and in their wardrobes. The show is filled with natural light and warm tones, and these entities add both interest and comfort while watching the show.


However, in “The Breast Issue”, the sixth episode of the series’s first season, this story changes. For example, Jane’s usual peppy, colorful-yet-professional outfits have been replaced by an all-black ensemble for this episode. This episode features more artificially-lit spaces, and there are definitely more struggles and personal issues presented across the board in this episode than in comparison to others.


In this episode, Jane has been assigned to write an article about a female health professional who is adamant about performing breast cancer-related tests on women at very early ages. The audience later learns that Jane lost her mother to breast cancer, and this provides an uneasy feeling as the episode progresses.


Flash forward, and Jane interviews the doctor in her office for the article. Careful observation of this scene gives a feeling different than in other episodes. The doctor’s office is a bland, off-brown color. This is a stark contrast to the abundance of color seen in the Scarlet headquarters building, a popular setting in the show. This purposeful occurrence changes the happy-go-lucky theme of the show, and the sheer importance of this scene is established by the lack of natural light. A cold manner is observed in the ambience of the room in which Jane and the doctor sit, and a coldness is equally seen in the women’s interaction.


On the other hand, the actual mechanics of the show change in this episode. This being a show about female empowerment and all, there is definitely enough extended shots to go around. However, in this episode especially, there comes a point where Jane loudly expresses her opinions to her boss. As the screen focuses on Jane, the manner in which she gets more and more upset as she cries builds upon the suspense that the shot places on her. This suspense is equally augmenting for the other characters as they come across struggles within this episode — Kat knows that she must fire a worker, and Sutton realizes that she misplaced a $5,000 necklace in a cab. The screen’s intentional, extended focus on the women in the midst of their struggles and fear connects the audience to their feelings and struggles throughout the episode.


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A drearily colored Jane apologizes to her boss after yelling at her in front of the rest of the company.


As compared to the previous episodes in the show, one ultimately sees that the unusually lengthy shots of the characters and their altered presentations through darker color schemes set this episode apart from the others in terms of importance and ominousness. But hey, of course, the girls resolve their issues as always, and we’re still on the hook for watching the next episode.

Women in Comedy, SNL (Bibliography)

Please excuse the lack of indentation. WordPress is really trying me here.


Doan, Alesha E. “‘What’s Wrong with Being Sexy?’ Why Political
Science Needs to Get Serious about Sexuality.” PS: Political Science &
Politics, vol. 44, no. 1, 2011, https://search.proquest.com/pqrl/docview/
839849726/3A78EBE88EB34B57PQ/18?accountid=11107. Accessed 17
September 2018.

This article discusses the manner in which the use of female characters is sometimes intentional in television, and more specifically, in comedy sketch shows. It draws upon specific examples from SNL and compares the popularity of female political characters versus those of the male gender. The author argues that while certain comments can be made by male characters, those same comments actually have much more resonance when spoken by females. She specifically investigates the portrayal of the show’s mid-to-late-2000’s era characters such as former president Barack Obama and his political opponent the late John McCain. The importance of these characters’ comments about sexuality is compared to comments made by female actors impersonating Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, two other candidates for the presidency. It is seen that the female characters’ quotes elicited a much more positive response from audiences than the male characters’. This article is valuable for research given that it places emphasis on the manner in which females are often used in comedy in order to generate a boost in audience morale and appreciation of the show’s content. The conclusions drawn in this article can be applied to females as a whole in comedy and television.


Fulton, DoVeanna S. “Comic Views and Metaphysical Dilemmas:
Shattering Cultural Images through Self-Definition and
Representation by Black Comediennes.” Journal of American
Folklore, vol. 117, no. 463, 2004, https://search.proquest.com/pqrl
Accessed 17 September 2018.

This article discusses the expectations of females and their roles in comedy and television. It deeply investigates cases pertaining to specifically African-American females in comedy. The author argues that they tend to experience much different expectations and dilemmas as compared to their male colleagues and fellow comedians who are not of minority races. She points out that in the past, women were not seen as fit to explore the field of comedy, and she shows that women of minority races still struggle exceedingly with this enigma of exclusivity in comedy to this day. This article is not only of value due to its mentioning of minority women in comedy but also due to its solid connection between societal enigmas in the past and the present. This connection through the passage of time allows for one to see the effects of previous societal beliefs in comedy that are present today. It is especially helpful due to its relevance in today’s comedy shows that include, or in many cases do not include, women of minority.


Press, Andrea, and Terry Strathman. “Work, Family, and Social Class
in Television Images of Women: Prime-Time Television and the
Construction of Postfeminism.” Women and Language, vol. 16, no. 2,
1993, https://search.proquest.com/pqrl/docview/198874239/abstract/
3FF771C22EDPQ/1?accountid=11107. Accessed 17 September 2018.

This article opens with a discussion on the tendency of television shows to undermine the day-to-day struggles of the average woman throughout her lifetime. The authors form an argument that leans towards the basis of an unrealistic portrayal of women on television. Societal ideologies are compared to the generalized female character on the majority of television shows. The authors place great importance on the early sitcom I Love Lucy and the role that Lucille Ball played as America’s woman on television. The article then investigates several other female-focused shows throughout several generations that correspond to the various eras of the development of feminism. The authors conclude that women’s roles as portrayed on television ultimately coincided with the changing roles of women out in the workforce and in their households. This article is undoubtedly valuable due to its comprehensive overview of women’s roles on television and how they changed as similar changes were observed out in society. This overview allows for a greater understanding of the stages of the development of feminism. It also helps in understanding the past and present and how these two entities practically determine the course of feminism, both on- and off-screen.


Romano, Tricia. “SNL’s Kenan Thompson and the Invisible Black
Women of Comedy.” The Daily Beast, 17 October 2013, https://search.
PQ/1?accountid=11107. Accessed 17 September 2018.

This article is focused on a quote by Kenan Thompson, a long-time actor and comedian on SNL. It pokes at the subtle truth lying behind a controversial quote of his that was centered on the fact that there are very few black women on both SNL and comedy shows in general. The author uses quotes from various sources that dig into Thompson’s words. She concludes that he is not necessarily wrong; there are multiple professionals in the world of comedy who also know and admit that black women in comedy are a very rare occurrence. Upon its publishing in 2013, the article directly states that since the show first aired nearly forty years ago, there have only been four black women on the permanent cast. This article is of great value due to its complexity in discussing the issue of minority women on SNL specifically. The multiple sources that are cited in the article give exceedingly important facts and quotes from insiders and showrunners on the show, and its focus on women of minority gives large insight to the gap that still exists in SNL and in the comedy business as a whole.


Schilling, Dave. “Why Sasheer Zamata Never Had a Chance on
Saturday Night Live.” Vulture, 30 May 2017,  http://www.vulture.
ce.html. Accessed 17 September 2018.

This article focuses directly on Sasheer Zamata, a young cast member of SNL who, compared to other cast members, did not last but seconds on the show. The author compares her short career run with other black females and holds an in-depth discussion on the history of black females on the show. He argues that over the show’s entirety, there has only been two black females who has managed to keep her place on the show: Leslie Jones and Maya Rudolph. It is concluded that personas that did not fit into the “white baby-boomer ideas of what is funny” had little to no chance of keeping their spots in the skits. The author concludes that black females other than Rudolph and Jones just have not seem to have “what it takes” to survive in the largely white world of SNL. This article is of value because it compares lesser known black females with those who were (and still are) staples in the show’s history. He notes that the disappearance of Zamata from the cast is just another case in the cycle of black women being overshadowed in comedy, especially on SNL.


Tally, Margaret J. “Television Women from Lucy to Friends: Fifty
Years of Sitcoms and Feminism.”The Journal of American Culture,
vol. 27, no. 2, 2004, https://search.proquest.com/pqrl/docview/
Accessed 17 September 2018.

This article is a review for Lynn Spangler’s book Television Women from ‘Lucy’ to ‘Friends’: Fifty Years of Sitcoms and Feminism. It goes over how Spangler recognizes how trends in television spark trends in society and vice versa. The author notes that Spangler makes an interesting point in noticing that women sometimes seem to enjoy unrealistic images of themselves, even though these images are mostly “regressive” in their portrayal of women’s roles in their careers and households. In this manner, the article brings some controversy to light; the reader is then allowed to see that these past observations by Spangler are indeed still relevant in today’s society. The article is valuable for research in the way that it serves to connect the dots of some underlying stigmas in television and comedy shows today. One can see that general audiences will sometimes continue to enjoy shows even though character portrayals are not ideal. It can also be said that television’s portrayal of women was just as important to real-world citizens in the early stages of television as continues to be now.

The Bold Type: A Much-Needed Update to TV’s Outlook on Intimacy

Truthfully, The Bold Type is exactly what its title pokes at… B-O-L-D. Throughout the show, characters’ comments and voiced opinions are not necessarily what you would expect to hear while casually watching Hulu. Today we take a look at the show’s second episode; one that, to be frank, is chock-full of insight and social awareness.

Going into “O Hell No”, the viewer can automatically catch the episode’s subject before it even begins. Look out preconceived notions about women and intimacy, you’re in for a rude awakening.

The episode takes a general focus on the struggles of Jane, one of the show’s three main female leads. She has recently been promoted as a writer for Scarlet, a magazine whose nature can be inferred from its name. Jane has been assigned to write a sex column; however, she is not experienced with the subject matter and feels discomfort with the editor’s choice of topic.¹ This sets the basis of the show’s argument for social awareness of women’s sexual and emotional wellbeing. Several instances in the plot push the show’s message: everything and nothing should be accepted when it comes to conversations about intimacy.

As the storyline progresses, Jane receives some minor backlash from her friends and colleagues as she asks for advice on how to personalize her article when she is in actuality not connected to it at all. She even ventures out to see a sex therapist, and she attempts to become comfortable with the idea of intimate experiences. Eventually, she decides that the pressure of whatever “idea” that women should experience during their youth is too much to handle. She hesitantly writes her article — under anonymity, mind you — and she is visibly ashamed to have not been able to relate to the topic of the article.

Later, after some dramatic background music and heavy contemplation on Jane’s part, she confidently adds her name to the article before turning it in to her editor. This moment, arguably the most important five seconds of the entire episode, is a slap in the face to sexualized stereotypes in society. Jane is no longer ashamed to admit that she hasn’t had certain experiences, and in fact, she admits it to the magazine’s millions of readers. Bold move, yes? (I couldn’t help it.)

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Jane from ‘The Bold Type’

This instance more or less establishes the backbone of The Bold Type. Small actions like putting one’s name on an article that deals with a lack of sexual experience form the argument of the show in general. The audience is taught that awareness and acceptance of all people are absolutely crucial. Through empowering its female characters, it demonstrates the acceptance of life’s circumstances, twists, and turns. Life is life is life is life. Why try to hide or be ashamed of one’s truth? The show’s push towards awareness for women’s health is most definitely a conversation starter on- and off-screen.²

Someone try ‘n stop it from changing viewers’ mentalities for the better. Good luck if you do.



Works Cited

¹Framke, Caroline. “The Bold Type, A Smart New Show About the Makings of a Women’s Magazine, Is a Total Delight.” Vox, 16 July 2017, https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/7/16/15973678/the-bold-type-freeform-review. Accessed 9 September 2018.

 ²Kaplan, Ilana. “How The Bold Type Is Changing the Conversation Around Sex and Sexuality on TV.” The Hollywood Reporter, 24 July 2018, https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/how-bold-type-is-changing-conversation-around-sex-sexuality-tv-1129016. Accessed 9 September 2018.

Something (Not) Worth Reading

Hey, everyone. I’m Jessica Barber, and I’m a Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering student in the class of 2022.

This is my first English class here at Tech, but I took AP English Language during my junior year of high school. Looking back on it, that class was one that truly sparked my interest in rhetoric, and I saw beauty in not only the contents of literature but in the mechanics of it. That being said, I have a great appreciation for the effects of nonverbal communication, especially as seen in day-to-day conversation. On paper, I enjoy seeing an author’s voice and opinions present themselves through diction and formulaic structures ― I guess I’m a sucker for written communication as well.

For this semester, I hope to improve in verbal communication. To be frank, I’m one of those people who would much rather sit in the back of the room and internally comment on people’s remarks like Statler and Waldorf in The Muppets than be the one up on stage. But enough of the boring stuff.

When I have the time, I enjoy watching TV for sure. I’ve gone through a few binging stages over the years, but most recently, I enjoy Rick and Morty and, unfortunately, The Bachelorette. For this assignment, I’ll be watching and reviewing The Bold Type, a Freeform show about three young females who all work at a magazine company. I think. I’ve only watched the first episode and a half, so if anyone out there is already a big fan, please don’t be offended by my lack of knowledge. We’ll get there soon enough.

I chose to watch The Bold Type because I remember that a friend back home became an immediate fan when it first aired on TV. She was always impressed that the show mentioned the social issues that it did, so I was interested in watching something that would surprise me. Currently, I’m watching the show with one of my best friends, a lovely Sri Lankan girl who I had the pleasure of befriending on the first day of high school. I don’t know about her, but I’m really looking forward to having an excuse for watching Netflix all the time now that it’s technically for school. We’ll see how it goes.

Statler and Waldorf

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