Last month marked the end of Freeform's most popular and essential hit: Pretty Little Liars. It was a series that quickly achieved cult status, and one that became synonymous with Freeform (or ABC Family, depending on which year you were watching), even ending its seven-season run on top. With Pretty Little Liars' exit (as well as Switched and Birth and Baby Daddy, two other long-running series that ended in 2017), Freeform is looking to fill the void with something new.
This task will be easier in 2018, when the network debuts two Marvel series: Cloak & Dagger and New Warriors (which includes fan favorite Squirrel Girl)—along with College-ish, a spinoff of ABC's critically acclaimed Black-ish. (Other upcoming series include a mermaid drama and a Lonely Island–produced comedy.) Until then, however, there's The Bold Type, which isn't enough to replicate Pretty Little Liars' success—but it just might be fun and breezy enough to hold viewers over until the next big thing comes along.
It helps that The Bold Type definitely has all the markings of a successful Freeform young adult drama. "Inspired" by the life of former Cosmopolitan editor Joanna Coles, The Bold Type is a lively (if often unrealistic) look at working for a women's magazine. The show centers on three charming young women: Jane (Katie Stevens), a newly promoted writer at Scarlet who is trying to figure out exactly what her voice is and what stories she wants to tell; Kat (Aisha Dee), the confident social media director who holds strong on her professional opinions but faces confusion in her personal life; and Sutter (Meghann Fahy), an assistant at the magazine who is watching her friends move up in the world while she remains stuck. Also circling around is Jacqueline Carlyle (Melora Hardin), the editor-in-chief who ends up far more encouraging than she is upon first glance.
For the most part, The Bold Type (which is most reminiscent of TV Land's Younger) goes through typical millennial comedy-drama fare: Sutter's secret relationship with a Scarlet board member, Jane getting shut down while trying to pitch articles, Kat being attacked on Twitter by shitty men. But The Bold Type knows that it's one of many shows and movies that aim to depict life at a magazine—and it embraces that fact, borrowing storylines and beats from the coming-of-age and rom-com genres with tweaks and updates when necessary.
These updates will feel welcome and familiar to the younger crowd, but will also perhaps elicit some eye-rolling from the olds. (When ABC Family rebranded as Freeform, it was partly because they realized their millennial viewership were getting older, necessitating a focus switch to 14-to-34-year-old "becomers"; occasionally, The Bold Type spans this 20-year gap.) There's a specificity to Kat's Twitter storyline—the slut-shaming, the rape threats, the hacking—that's relatable to all women (especially in media), but when her @ replies float along the screen, it's distracting enough to accidentally lessen the narrative's necessary weight.
In another episode, Jacqueline orders Jane to write a sex column that's more personal and overshare-y, and the viewers are supposed to cheer when Jane finally gets the courage to do so—but for some of us, it's hard to ignore the realities of selling out your trauma, or the aftermath of personal essays, or the invasive demands of editors.
At its core, The Bold Type is a fairly light and amusing summer series may not be groundbreaking (lest you think things get too serious, there's a plot involving a stubbornly stuck yoni egg), but it's not totally by the book, either. Much of it is ridiculous, the sort of show you watch at arm's length because it's not worth it to get too involved—and the characters are just interesting enough to keep it going. You could do much worse than spend an hour a week watching The Bold Type while waiting for the fall TV season to start. It won't replicate the runaway success and cult following of Pretty Little Liars, but it's a perfect fit if you miss Ugly Betty.
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