The Cast of ‘The Bold Type’ on Staying Current

“The Bold Type,” which airs its Season 2 finale Tuesday on Freeform, is based on a familiar TV narrative: Smart young women living fun but complicated lives in New York City, where they pursue their dreams of career success and romance. For its sometimes realistic — and other times outrageous — portrayal of life as a young adult in New York, comparisons to shows like “Sex and the City” and “Girls” come easy.

But while “The Bold Type” certainly features plenty of club nights and messy run-ins with exes, it also updates the conventions of its forebears, with a great emphasis on its characters’ careers — the three best friends work together at a glossy magazine inspired by Cosmopolitan — and on thoughtful conversations about race, feminism, sexuality and media ethics.

Its characters are self-involved but also self-aware, their dilemmas reflecting how identity, addiction, the #MeToo movement and other modern hot-button issues permeate their personal and professional lives. The biracial, sexually fluid social media director Kat (Aisha Dee) wrestles with labeling herself as the magazine’s first black female department head. The journalist Jane (Katie Stevens) ponders her white privilege after being turned down by a diversity-seeking newsroom. The fashion assistant Sutton (Meghann Fahy) reckons with her mother’s alcoholism.

“I really came into the audition process with a bit of skepticism,” Ms. Dee said. “I was like, ‘Uh, this isn’t going to be real feminism, this is going to be some commercial white version of it.’ And I was so pleasantly surprised to see so many women and men involved who wanted to have conversations and wanted to kind of change the way we did it.”

“It’s really just a show about 20-somethings, living in the world right now,” she added.

In a joint phone interview from the show’s Montreal set, Ms. Dee, 24, Ms. Fahy, 28, and Ms. Stevens, 25, took a break from production on Season 3 of “The Bold Type” to reflect on the show’s depiction of female friendship, the relevance of women’s magazines and the challenges they and their characters share. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

What are the show’s goals, when it comes to presenting female friend groups?

KATIE STEVENS: I think that we just show women supporting each other, and that’s been always very true of my friendships. I just think it’s great for young girls to see girls uplifting each other, rather than tearing each other down.

MEGHANN FAHY: Yeah, I agree with Katie. [Such conflict] makes for really good drama, which I think is why we see that a lot in TV and film. But I think what’s interesting about “The Bold Type” is that we have good people on the show, and so the drama doesn’t really exist between them. It exists around them.

AISHA DEE: Also, we need to support each other to keep fighting the patriarchy, like there’s no way to do it on your own. You need the help of your friends to get through it, so I hope that people watching are also kind of inspired to be their own advocate and be their friends’ advocates.

What does the magazine’s fashion closet, where the girls gather to give each other advice, represent?

STEVENS: Safety. It’s a safe haven for these girls.

DEE: We’ll often spend so many hours in a tiny little fashion closet — for a set, it feels quite small. By the end of the day, it feels like we’ve been worn down. And I think that’s kind of the beauty of the scenes in there — it’s kind of just the three of us really getting so giddy.

Women’s magazines can be dismissed as silly or unimportant. How does the show try to address this?

DEE: Growing up, I used to go to the library, and I would sneak into the magazine section and read this magazine called Girlfriend. And you know, it was just like this teeny-bopper magazine that had this section where people can ask questions to this doctor who would give answers, you know usually about sex and boys and all of that stuff. I was at a very Christian school where we didn’t really discuss those things. If it weren’t for those magazines, I would’ve known nothing about contraception, about periods and all of those things.

FAHY: I think there is a stigma sometimes that it’s just sex positions and face cream. There’s nothing wrong with those things, but I think that we’re calling attention to a plethora of other things that fall under the same umbrella as feminism. How to care for yourself. How to please yourself. How to love your friends.

The character Sutton dates and breaks up with Richard, an older man who is a powerful figure at the magazine. How do you think that relationship resonates with the #MeToo movement?

FAHY: One of the things that attracted me to the show, actually, was the way that the Sutton and Richard relationship was written. Because a lot of times, the dynamic between a younger woman and an older man in a powerful position is played out very differently. But at no point, Sutton feels put down by him. This is a mutually loving, respectful relationship — that was always the plan. Once the #MeToo movement happened, I don’t think that it changed the course of their relationship very much. It was always that the only reason they weren’t together was because Sutton knew what people would say about her in the workplace. But it is interesting to see that play out in this environment for sure.

How do you think the relationship between Kat and her girlfriend Adena differs from other queer relationships on television?

DEE: One of the things I really love about this relationship is their communication. When there’s a problem, they talk about it. And I just think that people connect with the fact that you’re seeing two women of color in love. It’s rare. It shouldn’t be. It’s incredibly rare to see on television, especially in young adult television.

I wanted to ask about some specific plot points. The episode in which Kat reflects on her biracial identity is very illuminating — what do you think this episode is trying to say?

DEE: It was a very emotional episode to watch and also to film. I am also biracial, and after the episode aired, I definitely had a lot of people, both in real life and on Twitter, reach out and say they had never really heard that conversation before. Because in the world, when it comes to race, we want to see everything as black or white. And we want a simple answer to everything, but sometimes there isn’t one.

When Jane complains about being arbitrarily rejected by a diversity-seeking company, based on her race, Kat responds, “Welcome to the entire existence of people of color.” What do you all think about this conversation, and how it might reflect real-world discussions people are having?

STEVENS: There really has to be that moment of realism — to be like, “Oh O.K., there are some people who don’t have this, and it’s my responsibility to kind of step aside and allow those people to have this opportunity that I have been fortunate enough to have my whole life.”

DEE: I got a tweet from this girl who was like, “I was watching the episode with my roommate, and we paused the episode.” She said her roommate was white and she was a black girl, and that they “paused the episode, and we just talked about our own privilege.”

Which episode was most powerful for each of you?

STEVENS: I would say Jane’s entire story line about losing her mother to breast cancer and getting diagnosed with the BRCA gene really hits home for me. My fiancé, his mother passed away when he was young from breast cancer. But all the things that Jane was saying, about only remembering her mom when she was sick, not knowing how she would respond to things going on in her life now, those are all very real conversations that my fiancé and I have had. And the whole episode about Jane tackling her fertility plan was really interesting. That made me think about how not having the presence of your mother, and then thinking about having children, how incredibly difficult that would be.

FAHY: I really loved the episode in Season 2 where Sutton is struggling with being a people person and being nervous that she might be perceived as just being overly flirty. I think compared to some of the other issues the show tackles, it’s a little bit less intense. But when I read that script, I was actually really moved by that.

DEE: The body positivity episode was a really special one. I went to meet all of the writers. I told them I really wanted to show my birthmarks and my stretch marks on the show. I loved that we got the opportunity to show those things, and celebrate them as art.

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