The Bold Type—a cheerful, earnest dramedy inspired by the inner workings of Cosmopolitan magazine—is the sort of series that might seem easy to write off. But in its first season, the Freeform drama proved its value and then some—offering, yes, bold story lines and three magnetic protagonists worth rooting for. This year, The Bold Type goes even farther, plopping its three feminist heroes—Jane (Katie Stevens), Sutton (Meghann Fahy), and Kat (Aisha Dee)—into a world thats slightly more challenging, though no less rewarding.
Although the series occasionally stumbled in its first year when it tried to tackle serious issues, it found its footing by its finale—when Scarlet editor (and Joanna Coles stand-in) Jacqueline Carlyle, played by a winning Melora Hardin, revealed that she is a rape survivor. And while The Bold Types sophomore season still offers plenty of charming froth, it also seems a little more invested in sensitively exploring tough questions—like how aspiring fashion maven Sutton could damage her career by dating Richard, whos on the board of Scarlets publishing company.
In the wake of #MeToo, this kind of examination feels more poignant and necessary than ever—and while Meghann Fahy has always been rooting for Sutton and Richard, shes also glad to see the series tackle such a prescient issue.
In an interview, Fahy praised how Sutton and Richards relationship doesnt play into exploitative stereotypes about a younger womans relationship with an older man. “It really was two people who genuinely respected each other and cared about each other, and the hardest part about the relationship was the fact that theyre [working] at the same place,” Fahy said. “I thought that was pretty cool.” At the same time, Fahy said, shes glad the series has decided to explore the ways in which their relationship could sabotage Suttons prospects: “I think it was really important for us to talk about that, because now more than ever this is a topic of conversation thats completely relevant and triggering, and a million different things for a million different people.”
Anyone can create a series set in an idealized world, but what makes The Bold Type work is the way it balances reality and fantasy. Plenty of journalists have harped on the shows depiction of the media world, which is soft-focus at best: no, assistants could never afford to dress like this in real life, and yes, actual media companies arent quite brimming with opportunities and eager mentors. But while The Bold Type is certainly escapist and occasionally silly, its also lighthearted fun thats grounded in convincing characters: Jane, the Type-A writer whos struggling to find a workplace that really lets her grow; Kat, the young social-media director whose relationship with artist Adena has forced her to face her fears and insecurities; and Sutton, whos outgoing and goofy, a reflection of Fahys younger self. (Fahy is about two years older than her character.)
“I really found her to be the kind of person who was able to find the humor in life,” Fahy said. “I think it makes a difference—especially in todays political climate, where everything is so intense all the time. Shes also really, really sensitive, and I think she tends to be a people pleaser—which is something that I have totally struggled with.”
In its depiction of this trio, The Bold Type has also created a convincing, relatable portrait of female friendships—of a piece with series like Sex and the City, from which this show might have borrowed its joyful implausibility, and Girls, a more recent sister series thats more painfully real than The Bold Type. But the show is perhaps the nicest and bubbliest entry in the post–Sex and the City landscape: theres no backstabbing among these women, who focus instead on keeping each other afloat in a sometimes difficult world. Their friendship is echoed in the relationship between the shows three core actresses, who are neighbors as well as pals; Stevens and Fahy live in the same building, and Dee lives just around the corner. After a long day of filming, Fahy said shell often put on her pajamas and slippers and take the elevator down to Stevenss apartment. (“Katie,” she said, “is an amazing cook, and she feeds me a lot.”)
They have dinner, they drink wine, they hang out—and if it seems like these three are having fun on-screen, thats because they are. Fahy calls the shows work environment welcoming and supportive; the actresses are often encouraged to express their thoughts and suggestions when it comes to the script. “They always want us to put it in our own words, and if you have ideas about things that you would love to say or change or fix, you are always heard,” Fahy said.
Going into Season 2, Fahy is looking forward to an upcoming episode about body positivity, which she called particularly personal; the three girls are involved in a group photo shoot in which all three actresses chose to highlight parts of their bodies that they had once been insecure about. “It is really, really fun and freeing, so Im excited for everybody to see that episode,” Fahy said. Were also going to meet Suttons mother. Whatever they get up to, their antics are worth watching—even for the most devout cynic.
Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Laura BradleyLaura Bradley is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.