In the interests of doing other things with my free time, this review will be written in approximately thirty minutes. Timer starts…now!
Freeform’s exceptional series, The Bold Type, remains faithful to its characters until the very end
Starring Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee, Meghann Fahy, Melora Hardin, and Stephen Conrad Moore
For The Bold Type to have a satisfactory conclusion at all is nothing short of miraculous. With a truncated fourth season leaving all three leading ladies in precarious positions, and a reduced episode count for the final outing, it’s remarkable that the writers of The Bold Type managed to satisfactorily round off all of their characters’ stories without the end product feeling rushed.
Season Four saw much change for Jane (Katie Stevens), Kat (Aisha Dee) and Sutton (Meghann Fahy). While Jane endured personal upheaval, including ending her relationship with Pinstripe and undergoing a double mastectomy, she managed to secure her own vertical at Scarlet and, at the close of the season, was in the process of investigating a workplace abuse story.
Kat was let go as social media manager at Scarlet, but had begun to rebuild herself while working as a bartender and, uncharacteristically, had started a dalliance with a conservative.
Elsewhere, Sutton and Richard (Sam Page) reached breaking point in their marriage, as their views on children proved diametrically opposed, resulting in Richard leaving her. On a trip home, Sutton ended up sleeping with an ex-boyfriend of hers (who is now married and has kids) and, upon returning to New York, appeared to be showing signs of a drinking problem.
With only six episodes, The Bold Type‘s final season does what it can to rattle through and resolve these existing plotlines while also moving these beloved characters towards their intended end goal. It perhaps isn’t as straightforward or as clean as if the show had been given an appropriate amount of time to properly delve into these issues, but, fortunately, for a show about three twenty-somethings, life is rarely so neatly narratively propelled either.
An unfortunate, though expected, side effect of a shorter season is that some meaty issues are raised but cannot be adequately explored. The dire straits that Sutton and Richard found themselves in at the end of season 4 is given a hasty resolution, and Sutton’s trips to therapy are mostly dealt with within the confines of a single episode. Elsewhere, Kat seeks to tackle the lack of opportunities afforded to ex-convicts, and Jacqueline (Melora Hardin) discovers that her assistant Andrew is not paid an appropriate wage. These are doubtless storylines that would have been expanded upon more, as the pace feels disingenuous here, particularly with Jane suffering a particularly egregious workplace error only for Jacqueline to conveniently forget mere moments later. Highly significant events which may previously have taken place over an entire episode are instead dealt with within a scene, and while the quality of the writing is still very high, as are all of the performances, it does feel like a more event-packed final season than episodes where the audience are permitted to sit and breathe with the characters. Additionally, several storylines are hastily abandoned (such as Jane’s relationship with employee Scott, and her subsequent attempts to appease her other writer, Addison).
Despite this, what Season 5 has in spades – as The Bold Type has always possessed – is heart. The friendship between Jane, Kat and Sutton is infinitely watchable even when each character isn’t undergoing significant personal growth (which does seem to happen an awful lot).
In particular, for final seasons, it’s not just a matter of telling its own self contained story, but rather doing justice to all of these characters’ tales that have been told since 2017. There is a history to each of these storylines which must be reflected within the events that transpire but, ultimately, a viewer can easily see the immense growth that every character has undergone.
With all three characters still ending the series in their twenties, there was hardly going to be a neat, entirely closed ending, but what the finale does do is place them in positions which feel fitting and feel grounded within their development and experience. The main criticism that a viewer could have of the final season of The Bold Type is that there should have been more. All the time in the world could never be enough to spend in the infectiously bolstering presence of Jane, Kat and Sutton.
The Bold Type’s final season, unfortunately, does not yet have a UK broadcaster, though Seasons 1 – 4 can be streamed on Netflix.