Issue #15: The Scarlet letter

Dissecting The Bold Type's very tepid final season

Hi,

Welcome back to Continue Watching! We have so many new subscribers to welcome this time and it is filling our heart with JOY. We hope you like what you see, enough to stick around and to share your TV-watching habits with us. There’s no judgment here, only endless capacity to talk about imaginary characters that eventually become our everything. 

This is an exciting week for us because two of our fave shows, Elite and Hospital Playlist, are coming back. Elite is basically a more diverse, more bonkers (yes) Spanish Gossip Girl and Hospital Playlist is chicken soup for the soul. We’re also counting down to the actual Gossip Girl reboot, which is premiering in July and recently blessed us with this full-length trailer that is wild and dramatic.

First of all, HOW ARE THESE PEOPLE KIDS? Second, we are pledging allegiance to Julien. And third, welcome back Kristen Bell’s perfect voice! It makes sense that Gossip Girl is on Instagram but it does not make sense that time has done its thing and instead of cheering these kids on we are now constantly worried for their safety. Being in your 30s, as they (we) say, is wild. 

With that urgent discussion out of the way, let us tell you about what’s in store for you in this issue. We’re writing about a show that has been omnipresent in this newsletter, one on which Shahana wrote a scathing essay in the first issue itself, and that is ending in three weeks. The Bold Type, or as we like to call it - UGH JANE, has only three episodes to go before the glossy Scarlet office and its supportive editor-in-chief Jacqueline Carlyle bid adieu to us. We have loved this show through everything, even when Jacqueline got fired and re-hired within three episodes, but we are super unhappy with this season. So, instead of writing two essays saying the exact same thing, we present to you an actual conversation that we had (technically a slightly polished version of our frantic WhatsApp rant!) about how frustrated we are with a show that used to be a bright spot in our lives. 

But before you get to it, here’s what we are watching right now!

CURRENTLY WATCHING:

Kashika

Younger: I have technically finished watching this show but I need to find a place to SCREAM about its terrible series finale, so I am cheating and putting it in this section. SPOILER ALERT but you shouldn’t care because season 7 of Younger was idiotic, pointless, and completely ruined a super fun show. It doesn’t matter if you are Team Charles or Team Josh, they did everyone dirty. There was no Diana Trout and too much Quinn. The only good thing was that Kelsey managed to get out of Empirical and even though Hilary Duff’s spinoff is not happening because she’s committed to How I Met Your Father, I am happy that Kelsey is doing her own thing in LA and Josh is doing well financially. Darren Star, it was so hard to forgive you after Emily in Paris, but I will hold a grudge against you for this abomination for a long, long time. Streaming nowhere, so you’ll have to get creative to find it but DON’T.

Broken But Beautiful (season 3): My love for Hindi TV has taken me to many trashy, dark places in the past, but few come close to the dumpster fire that this show is. The first two seasons with Vikrant Massey were also TERRIBLE, but at least you were invested in those characters. Season 3 of this epically-named show is about Agastya (Sidharth Shukla), the most pretentious theatre writer in history, and Rumi (Sonia Rathee), who is the literal worst. No, seriously. She was such a horrible person that I actively wished that she would end up alone in every single episode. Agastya and Rumi meet, get into a friends with benefit arrangement, and unsurprisingly, one person falls for the other. So much happens in these 10 episodes and all of it is ridiculous. I am watching it because it’s fun(ny) but please stay away from it. Streaming on AltBalaji and MX Player.

Shahana

Anne Boleyn: I think Anne Boleyn is one of the most fascinating women ever, and you give me a book, a show, or a film about her, and I’m happy. Made by Channel 5, this particular miniseries follows the last few months of Boleyn’s life, that ends with her execution, and it’s written like a psychological thriller. This particular show cast a fair number of people of colour in key roles, but I have to say, that’s the only thing standing out for me. The show itself doesn’t say or do anything new, and I thought treating Boleyn’s last few months like a thriller would be interesting, but Anne Boleyn is just...not. Not streaming anywhere. 

Run BTS: I got into BTS sometime last year when those Chunari Chunari videos hit the Internet, but I got REALLY into BTS recently, when I found a clip of Taehyung and Jin fighting about a dance move and got randomly curious about where it was from. Turns out, these guys don’t just know how to sing, dance, rap, or casually go viral getting out of a car, they were also in a bunch of documentary-style shows and did a variety show called Run BTS for a while. All the BTS members have insane chemistry and play off each other very well, and I love that they’re concerned with having fun over everything else, and that makes watching Run BTS so enjoyable. They’re all very different and have such distinctive personalities, and watching them constantly lose their shit and laughing at and with each other made me miss my friends so much it’s not funny. Just watch this compilation and tell me you don’t want to see what’s really happening. And then email me so we can discuss our favourite games. Episodes with English subtitles can be found on YouTube and VLive.

We hope you’re having a good week. Please write to us if you want us to review/recommend a particular show or if you want to yell at us for our opinions. Every message is welcome! 

Continue Watching (and reading!),

Kashika and Shahana

Kashika & Shahana Discuss Everything That’s Wrong With The Final Season Of The Bold Type (And How They Would Fix It)

We got really into The Bold Type long before people ‘discovered’ it on Netflix, and we were legit sad to hear that season 5 will be its last. But now that the first three episodes of this season are out, we are wondering if we’re suddenly in a parallel dimension where everyone on the show is the absolute worst. After the last episode, we lost our minds and stayed up till 2am furiously WhatsApping each other everything we had an issue with and everything we would do to salvage a show that used to be our mango shake on hot summer days in 2018-19. What follows is a slightly polished, edited version of that manic chat. Naturally, spoilers ahead for the first three episodes of season 5.

Kashika: Shahana, listen to me. I’ve just finished The Bold Type episode and I’m losing my mind. Please tell me I’m not alone. What do you think of this season so far?

Shahana: I'm going to be honest, I'm...not enjoying it. Every time I look at Jane, it irritates me, because she somehow got handed an entire vertical and a cabin and a team, but she's often shown literally phoning her work in. I'm sorry, I can't get over her.

Kashika: Listen, I have so many issues with Jane and this season, but before that, can we address my biggest issue? WHAT IS A VERTICAL? I don't think the show understands it. I think they mean Failing Feminist is a column, maybe? Did Joanna Coles not take out one minute to explain this to them?

Shahana: I think a vertical is supposed to be like a separate section? Because a column belongs to one person, while an entire section will have multiple people writing for it. There's 3 people in that "vertical" and Addison complains about no responses to her pitches (UGH JANE) so it can't be a column, can it?

Speaking of Joanna Coles not explaining things, I think she really dropped the ball there. Like, at what point was someone going to point out that you can't redo an entire issue the night before it goes to print?! And junior writers don't just straight up pitch to the Editor. Where are all the senior editors, assistant editors, associate editors?

Kashika: Yes, but Jane was poached by Incite in season one to start her own vertical after writing ONE story about how a woman was using her clothes to further her political agenda or something. So I don’t know if the show gets what a vertical is supposed to mean. But lol fam, you have to get over this ‘redo an entire issue’ thing. I know it bothers you but it was good for DRAMA!

Shahana: Yes, nothing in real life works the way it does at Scarlet. Three young women living together and they don't have a single fight over basic roommate issues? How?

You've lived with close friends, tell me how their situation is like a pajama party while me living with my friend was a constant back and forth of "It was your turn to take the trash out" or “Can you just get the door once in a while, for fuck’s sake?”

Kashika: Yeah, I don't recommend living with friends at all. But you know what, I rewatched the entire show in May when all I wanted to do was scream into a pillow (and TBT saved me!), and I realised that these three used to have quite a few fights in the initial seasons. I don't know why the disagreements have now completely vanished but I'd forgotten how much they argued in the initial seasons. 

Shahana: Oh did they? I only remember that gun fight.

Kashika: There was also the fight between Jane and Kat when Jane was upset about some company’s push for diversity. And the one between Sutton and Kat about something money or privilege-related. Of course they tend to say “I love you” very quickly to each other after arguing, but it was realistic. When I worked or lived with very close friends in my early 20s, we bickered constantly. 

Shahana: Oh yeah, I remember now. God, for Jane to be complaining about people getting things they supposedly don’t deserve, just unbelievable. But these are arguments about really serious things. I meant the small, petty stuff about roommates that piss you off, like someone left the heater on or the dishes are still not done etc. I don't think they ever had those fights.

Kashika: That is not fun to watch, Shahana. I'd have turned the TV off! But I think that's the basic difference between how you and I are watching this show? I don't care about realism at all.

Shahana: Fair point. When I started watching The Bold Type, I wanted to see something about how a magazine actually gets made, and it can make for compelling TV, honestly. You're telling me Sutton can't have fun adventures while she's out sourcing? There's no interesting storylines that involve Jane actually doing her job correctly? In this day and age, with everything on social media being scrutinised so deeply, Kat can't be shown doing actual social media strategy or dealing with a Twitter crisis instead of walking around with a phone, tweeting on the go? 

Kashika: And I was looking for the opposite! As someone working in the media, I had no interest in watching three young women doing the jobs I've done or am doing, which have ruined my life at various points in time. I just wanted to watch pretty people doing fun, romantic things. There was friendship, there was love, there was A GOOD BOSS. I was instantly sold. I didn't care about anything. Because if I did, it’d have been very difficult for me to get over the truly terrible writing Scarlet writers do on a regular basis.

And that’s why I am so disappointed in this season. All love or relationship storylines feel inauthentic, all friendship stories are repetitive and Jacqueline is barely there. I want this show to end with all of them single, doing well professionally, that's it. 

Shahana: This season, everything feels forced. Jane's romance with a guy she has no chemistry with, Kat and Adena being off (I'm not even going to start with the Eva thing), and even Sutton's attempt to just be fine feels forced. 

I really liked the Sutton not wanting kids and miscarriage storyline, but then this constant attempt at being ‘fine’ just feels off. What do you think?

Kashika: Yes, those were important stories that were also well done. Sutton also acted the shit out of it. Even Jane’s mastectomy was sensitively and wonderfully handled. Now, it feels like as soon as they found out they're ending with Season 5, they dropped the ball on every single plot. Much like the awful last season of Younger (RIP). 

Shahana: Exactly. And this just basically gets to my point about why The Bold Type irritates me so much. Certain issues are handled so well; for example, they made Alex a very important character, made us like him, and then they weren't afraid to go the "yes all men" route to show us that he was shitty too. They've consistently shown all the men to behave in ways that one would expect men to behave in, and this is why it really stands out when the writers mess up.

Kashika: Oh my God, Alex and that awful cancel culture storyline this season. I was seething. SEETHING. Tell me, if you were running season 5, where would you take these characters? What is the one thing you'd do for each of the girls? 

Shahana: Huh, let’s see. 

1. Jane: I would really make her sit down and think about all the stuff that's come her way and how she's so undeserving of it. She doesn't deserve the vertical, she doesn't deserve the cabin, she doesn't deserve a team, she doesn't even deserve this job or A job, for that matter. And once she's thought about it, maybe she just does her job. I don't know whether to say "does her job well" because at this point, I would settle for her just doing it. I really want Jane to just really focus on getting her shit together. 

2. Kat: I think Kat's character has kind of lost her way. Is she someone who gets a job to pay her bills so she can live life and be a free spirit or is she someone who wants a career? Because both are fine, but I simply don't know which one Kat is. I think Kat's character has also suffered most of the poor writing, tbh. I'd probably make her just figure out what she wants, who she is, and do all of that without any Eva or Adena in the picture. 

3. Sutton: I think I'd get her to just slow down and take care of herself a little. It's okay to not be okay, and her and Richard put in a lot of work to be together, so this divorce has got to hurt. I’d just have her feel it, you know? And then focus on the "Divorce isn't the end of a woman's life" story that they’re pushing so hard. 

I feel like this really shows my dislike of Jane's character. 

But how about you, what would you do?

Kashika: Okay, I love this because you and I are on exactly the same page.

1. Jane: I'd have her rebuild her team from scratch and really understand from Jacqueline what it takes to be a manager. When she got bad peer reviews from Addison, I really felt that, because when I became a manager at 26, I also knew nothing and made many, many errors. There was a stunning lack of mentorship in my case, but Jane has Jacqueline, she has Oliver, she has so many role models and yet she made some horrible decisions with Scott and Addison. Even with Scott, he quit and removed himself from this situation. She did nothing to correct the egregious error of having an inappropriate relationship with her junior. Like you, I also just want her to focus on her career. It's fine that she made mistake after mistake and yet failed upwards (I have been trained by Rory Gilmore to ignore this), I think that's somewhat realistic, but I just want her to do better. I really liked Pinstripe, but he not only cheated but also lied about it, so I guess that's over OVER. I don't see any romantic storyline for her.

2. Kat: I feel like the writers always want to give Kat ‘A Cause’. It’s okay if your one queer Black character is just chilling in an episode and not championing a cause, relax. I am glad the Eva thing ended early on in the season, I think that was a massive misstep on the part of the writers and speaks to Aisha Dee's point that there is a lack of diversity in the writing room. In the final season, I'd have her go back to politics, maybe become someone's campaign manager. Because working at The Belle and making inane videos with people who are struggling, like the lemon loaf storyline with her school friend, is just pointless. She really needs a job and she needs to be cut off from Adena. That relationship has REALLY run its course. Kat used to be the most ambitious out of the three, and I understand having a rocky relationship with ambition in your 20s, but this is just too much meandering for a character who somehow ran for councilwoman while having a fulltime job!

3. Sutton: Sutton is my favourite and I want only the best things for her. I am not especially unhappy with her character arc this season, but I want one confrontation between her and Richard. It was a dick move to have Dev tell her about the divorce and he needs to hear it from her. I'd have also liked to see the aftermath of Sutton realising her mom has gone back to drinking. Her home life pre-New York really fascinates me. But I am glad that apart from a scene here or there, the writers didn't choose to make her an alcoholic after the divorce, that would have been too predictable. The divorce party, her insistence that she's fine, etc, I liked all of that. It felt authentic to her character. But I want her to move out and not live with Jane and Kat, that's just insane.

Okay, and because I want everyone else to also rage with me, here are three things about this season that have REALLY annoyed me.

1. The idiotic cancel culture storyline with Alex and that Pinstripe dude. It was done very badly and it was evident that the writers thought they were doing something iconic by showing us how cancel culture ruins lives. But they missed the entire point because of course in TBT there are zero consequences to anything. I was embarrassed for Alex and the show and myself and the world. 

2. Speaking of zero consequences, the way Jane handled that workplace abuse story boiled my blood. She didn't make it airtight, she recorded that BONKERS video confessing her feelings for Scott in front of her source and announced her mistake in a conference after which... nothing happened. RAGEEEEEE.

3. Jacqueline doing stupid things like saying she doesn't know assistants in Scarlet are paid badly or saying the 'facing you, the woman who slept with my husband, sucks' line in a PROFESSIONAL SETTING. Jacqueline Carlyle would never. She is not Jan Levinson. 

Now tell me yours!

Shahana: Okay, number 1 would be the same Jacqueline thing you mentioned. It pissed me off that they made Jacqueline act like she doesn’t know New York is an expensive city, and that line about facing the woman her husband slept with. Why bring up personal issues in a professional meeting? The writers on this show need a good editor to keep them consistent. It’s probably someone like Jane doing it, which is why it sucks. 

Number 2, what you said about Sutton’s pre-New York life is actually really interesting. We know a lot about Jane (ugh Jane) and her life before Scarlet, but there’s so much to mine from in Sutton’s past. I would’ve delved into that, I think that would’ve been fun to watch. Focus on the more interesting white girl.

Number 3, I would get rid of all the romance. Seriously. Kat, Sutton, and Jane are the love of each other’s lives, clearly. If you’re going to sell me a fantasy, sell me this one. Tell me how easy it is to maintain friendships and how you’ll never fight with your female friends, how you can live in cramped spaces and never fight. I don’t want to see lacklustre romances anymore.

If we didn’t have jobs, we would’ve gone on and on about this, but sadly we are not as good at multitasking as Kat. Also, we didn’t say anything about The Dotcom because that ends in both of us laughing so hard this issue wouldn’t get done in time. If you’re watching this season, are you happy with where it’s going? Do you think it’s at all salvageable? TALK TO US! We literally cannot stop thinking about this!

Recommendations

We get so many requests for TV show recs from friends, so we’ll get to them here in every issue.

I love me some Masterchef Australia, and lately I’ve been really getting into learning about the origins and history of the food we eat. Obviously Masterchef isn’t the place to go for that, so tell me something I can watch that’ll make me hungry and teach me something. 

You absolutely must watch High On The Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America. The four-part series, based on a book by Jessica B. Harris, charts the influence of African food and its cooking traditions on American food as it travelled with its people on slave ships. Chef and writer Stephen Satterfield does a wonderful job at hosting the show, speaking in a way that forces you to listen and really understand the connections he creates through his storytelling, to show viewers the ways African American cuisine has, in essence, become American cuisine. 

Streaming on Netflix.


We hope you enjoyed reading this issue as much as we loved writing it. Please write to us if you have any feedback. We look forward to your emails, comments, tweets, and DMs with requests, criticism, recommendations, and anything else that you want to tell us. You can also follow us on Instagram here. And if you haven’t already, do subscribe!