I need to stop underestimating The Bold Type.
The concerns I raised about the imbalances of the show’s plotting after episode four of this impressive (if frustrating) second season were immediately attended to in episode five. Now, my curiosity about whether Kat (Aisha Dee) and Adena (Nikohl Boosheri) would explore an open relationship has been answered with a resounding yes.
I don’t have a ton to say about the storyline, other than it’s being incredibly intelligently handled so far, with Adena both giving Kat space to explore but also wanting to maintain some distance from hearing about it. In this episode alone, there’s a solid amount of push-and-pull, as Kat realizes she needs to share stories from her adventures, and Adena has to brace herself for that level of openness. It’s early, but seeing an open relationship between two queer women is pretty radical territory for a relatively light show like The Bold Type, and I’m excited to see where it goes.
What I do have plenty to say about, however, is the main plot of the episode, which involves both Jane (Katie Stevens) and Sutton (Meghann Fahy). As Jane prepares to return to Scarlet, she rummages around her and Sutton’s closet to find an appropriate outfit. While doing so, she finds what appears to be a clarinet case — only to learn that the case actually houses Sutton’s shotgun.
The gun, which Sutton used while shooting skeet in high school and has lovingly named Betsy, comes as a shock to Jane, who is sensitive about firearms and had no idea one was being kept in her home. Sutton is remarkably unapologetic about this, considering Jane’s level of upset (and the fact that, as Jane notes, Sutton was legally required to disclose the gun to her roommate). She’s also stubborn about getting rid of the gun, which causes Jane to lob all sorts of generalizations about gun owners at Sutton.
Here’s the thing: I agree with Jane about guns. I’m in favor of strict gun control, and Sutton was absolutely in the wrong to not tell her roommate about owning one. But Jane is so condescending, so judgmental, and so unwilling to hear anything her best friend is telling her, it’s impossible to totally take her side.
Here’s the truth: Many people in this country grow up awash in gun culture. I’m from Texas; my family didn’t own any guns, but I knew plenty of people who did and still do. Sutton grew up in a pretty rural area of Pennsylvania, where she experienced a similar upbringing. Additionally, I know responsible gun owners who know how to handle them, how to store them, etc. They take every safety precaution possible, as Sutton does by leaving the gun locked up and not having any bullets in the house. Jane insists repeatedly that having the gun in her apartment is dangerous, but never offers any evidence for that.
Meanwhile, Sutton explains calmly that the gun is a source of comfort for her, that it gives her a feeling of control even when she feels unable to control anything. Betsy’s resurgence comes at the right time, too, as Sutton fails to secure a Balenciaga bag at work despite pledging to get it. She finds peace shooting that she can’t find at work, which Jane responds to with some sophomoric armchair psychoanalysis.
Jane has logic with her. In my opinion, she’s in the right, and on the facts, I’d agree with her. But she expresses her point of view so poorly. So it’s especially frustrating that The Bold Type relies exclusively on her to espouse its pro-gun control argument. I wish we’d gotten to hear from more characters — maybe even Jacqueline (Melora Hardin), who does get a chance to take Jane down a peg by calling her anti-gun piece “a rant” and rejecting it for publication. Jane only works if The Bold Type either allows her to be sensible, or calls her out when she’s out of line.
Unfortunately, the show ultimately takes her side on this run. Sutton melts Betsy down into earrings to wear, so that she still gets the comfort of her gun without actually having a gun. Jane gets to be right, and to get a good piece out of it. It’s a frustrating ending to the episode, to be frank.
Since this has worked the last few times, let’s give it one more go: I’m concerned with how the show sees Jane. As its protagonist, we need to empathize with her, but she doesn’t always need to come out on top. The Bold Type did well with this by having Jane stuck on the outside of Scarlet for half of the season. It shouldn’t abandon that instinct now that she’s back. The more she learns, the more we can learn with her, and see her growth. That’s a winning formula.
Now, let’s hope the next episode magically assuages my concern once again.
The next episode of The Bold Type will air next Tuesday, July 24, at 8 p.m. Eastern on Freeform.