A successful professional photographer who just happens to be Muslim, feminist, queer and kickass. Now that’s the ‘bold type’.
‘The Bold Type’ broke the Internet this year. We’ll start with one factor: Nikohl Boosheri. One half of the biggest ship since Titanic (let’s swerve around the iceberg, shall we?) ‘Kadena’ has taken social media by storm. An interracial, genuine, warm, and natural relationship with sweetly nervous beginnings has captured the audience’s mind. It helps that Boosheri’s screen-partner, our season one scene-stealer Aisha Dee, is something of a rough diamond too. They’re the perfect match.
Secondly, Boosheri’s Adena is a proud feminist. A successful photographer, she runs a meaningful gallery in New York City. She’s independent, religious, funny, talented—and clearly alluring. And she just happens to be a queer Muslim too. Unsurprisingly, it’s somewhat of a revelation on television. Not only is Aisha Dee a woman of colour, but she’s in a relationship with a Muslim lady! However, Adena isn’t just a tick next to a list of requirements. ‘The Bold Type’ makes it rather clear for both her and Kat. Their success and their love has nothing to do with race or religion. Sure, they learn from each other’s differences—but they don’t let it define them.
There are billions of Muslims in the world, and the idea that none of them are queer is ridiculous. Adena owns her sexuality without shame. And if that’s the way it should be with Caucasians or anyone else, why not Adena? ‘The Bold Type’ is warm in representation. Its charm, though, lies with the fact that Boosheri is a talented, skilled and wonderful person first. It comes before her ethnicity or her religion. Or her hijab, indeed. She’s Adena el-Amin, not just ‘the queer Muslim’. And that individuality is important.
Representation matters, and ‘The Bold Type’ doesn’t shy away from it. They don’t shy away from the fact of ‘the new normal’, as Jacqueline says in the finale, either.
It could be said that weekly, ‘The Bold Type’ tackles every issue known to woman. There’s a breast cancer episode, a sexual assault episode, a cyber-bullying episode—the list goes on. Yet what ‘The Bold Type’ weaves these important, garish themes into a story you can’t tear your eyes away from. By no means is ‘The Bold Type’ watchable because it softens these hard, brutal issues. The finale is so powerful and tear-jerking that it was brilliantly uncomfortable. We know her now as the powerful Jacqueline Carlyle. But what she confesses of the incident is telling:
Jacqueline: “I don’t think I realised how much of the weight I was still carrying.”
It’s one line. One line, and Melora Hardin ensures we see every inch of Jacqueline’s soul.
For Adena, we daresay ‘The Bold Type’ is equally as progressive. It tackles issues such as immigration, deportation and racism within Kadena’s romance. And it’s not wrong. What would’ve been wrong would’ve been to ignore it. Granted, Kadena should be treated like it’s normal. But Kadena, so beautiful and genuine, live in New York City. Adena’s a successful, hard-working, charming woman. A human. Unluckily, not everyone sees her like that; not everyone sees her.
Kat’s education about the hijab and Adena’s daily prayers are important but not forced. What’s so special about Adena’s photography is that it’s exactly what we wish everyone saw in Adena, just like Kat does. Misconception doesn’t fade. Adena knows that, and she allows herself to unravel before Kat. Because amidst the bad, there is honesty, integrity, and love. Adena isn’t alone. Jacqueline isn’t alone. And ‘The Bold Type’ are telling you: neither are you. You are never alone.
The trials and tribulations both women go through, past and present, do not define who they are—but they aren’t trivial tragedies to be forgotten, either.
Jacqueline’s story arc is arguably the most powerful. Every single character is nuanced and weighty. There isn’t a character who feels pointless. But Jacqueline has been depicted, since the beginning, as the most powerful of the powerful. Let’s face it: they spent an episode shading Trump. She’d squash him with a stiletto. But in the finale, when her long-repressed secret comes to light, Jacqueline doesn’t fall from grace. She doesn’t rise from the ashes either. Instead, she sits, she talks, and she remembers.
‘The Bold Type’ covers a lot of issues. But what it doesn’t do is brush them off weekly. Jane’s still affected by her breast cancer assignment; Sutton with Richard; Kat’s new-found adventure. The fact that Jacqueline completely opens up to Jane and admits, no, she was never okay with it; yes, she still and maybe will forever carry that weight is a hammer to the chest. On a deeper level, we explore rape reports. Jacqueline says she never thought of reporting it. Why would she? Her word against her boss’s? Even that smidgen of pain is incredibly revealing about the culture we still live in. Melora Hardin’s delivery throughout the episode is exceptional. And then you see the season differently.
A previous assault victim, Jacqueline doesn’t take advantage of her employees. She pushes—not to be mean, but to get the best out of them. It works on Jane. In the premiere, she spots the girls drinking champagne to celebrate Jane’s promotion. And she smiles. Because through her torture, she’s created this safe haven. This is her work. ‘The Bold Type’ isn’t telling you to just get over rape. But it won’t deny the chance of moving forward—not essentially past—to success. Women aren’t unbreakable, but they sure as hell are strong.
They didn’t skimp on the actresses, either. Hardin makes every boss feel inferior, and Boosheri’s just unfairly wonderful.
Come on, Sarah Watson, you’re hogging all the talent.
The core trio of Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee and Meghann Fahy is impeccable. Their chemistry is near-unrivalled, and they’re supported by a strong cast. Namely, Sam Page has been dropping quietly strong performances as Richard. Throw in a couple of Mount Everests of talent in Melora Hardin and Nikohl Boosheri, and we’re beginning to wonder if all talent has moved to Montreal.
There isn’t much to say. Hardin kills it from her first scene. As does Boosheri. Hardin struts in with her stilettos to a sweet beat, launching into every episode by empowering and pushing her starlets. Nothing feels forced. We don’t just get breast cancer shoved in our faces. It’s balanced, like Hardin. And to be fair, no boss is really as nice as Jacqueline, but the depth Hardin portrays her with and her minute, perfect detail is an unstoppable force.
Nikohl Boosheri is a genuine revelation. We’ll leave the fangirling for Twitter, but objectively, she’s—well, she’s brilliant. She possesses sultriness that isn’t predatory. Intelligence, not a know-it-all. Messy, but not manipulative. Adena’s a walking paradox of imperfection that makes her so perfectly irresistible. And the thing is, we need these nuanced ladies on our television screens. We need mature women playing mature women; we need queer, women-of-colour representation. ‘The Bold Type’ doesn’t pretend to represent every person in the world, and nor does it try to preach that it does. But we’ll be damned if we find a more relevant, powerful, inspiring project than this.
Kudos, ‘The Bold Type’. You saved and inspired many—including yours truly.