Freeform’s newest summer drama “The Bold Type” is TV’s newest attempt to portray the glamorous yet turbulent lives of magazine writers in the New York City publishing world.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The show follows a young assistant named Jane who just got promoted to a writer spot at Scarlet magazine (loosely based on Cosmopolitan magazine, the No. 1-selling women’s magazine in the world). Jane isn’t exactly nailing the new gig with her pointy-toed stiletto wearing boss. She quickly becomes the “how-to” girl, and her first story involves stalking her backpack-wearing, Brooklyn hipster ex who isn’t on social media.
The glitzy world of magazine publishing has been chronicled time and time again in movies like “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Trainwreck,” and “13 Going on 30,” and TV shows like “The Hills,” “Ugly Betty,” and most recently in an E! reality series about Cosmopolitan called “So Cosmo,” which aired in the spring.
“The Bold Type” seemingly has plenty of credibility behind it, as it’s executive produced by Joanna Coles, the Chief Content Officer for Hearst Magazines, and former Editor-in-Chief of...you guessed it, Cosmo.
The show’s two-hour premiere checks all the boxes: gorgeous mag staffers teetering around in their highest heels, a sordid office romance, potentially dashed hopes and dreams. But in order for this series to thrive among the ones that have come before, it’ll have to bring more than just a Miranda Priestly knockoff and platform-wearing glamazons. It’ll have to get real.
It’s ironic, given that print magazines are a dying industry, bested in the past decade by digital media, Snapchat, and even podcasts. If glossies like Cosmo will even exist in 10 years is impossible to predict, but it seems Coles herself is hell bent on creating Cosmopolitan “the brand”...even if Cosmopolitan the magazine ultimately becomes a relic of its time.
Coles has tried just about anything to make Cosmo not just survive but thrive in the fading magazine industry since she joined staff in 2012. There was the aforementioned reality show, a short-lived clothing line at the decidedly unglamorous mall staple JCPenney, and even Cosmopolitan The Fragrance, which seems to only have existed in the U.K.
But “The Bold Type” is Coles’ first shot at a thinly-veiled fictional account of her team at Cosmopolitan, and so far, it seems to be a juicy summer dramedy worth tuning into. After Freeform’s rebranding from ABC Family to slightly more mature fare, the show should hold its own, even though it’s much of the same old, same old.
In fact, ABC Family had its own TV movie version of a magazine writer’s plight back in 2010 with “Beauty & The Briefcase,” starring Hilary Duff, who is currently starring in “Younger,” the delightful TV series about the high-wattage world of NYC book publishing.
“The Bold Type” feels like a full-circle moment, as it’s already seemingly fresher more self-aware than its predecessors. It treats women with a great amount of respect, showing the three leads’ close bond and openly discussing their career goals and aspirations. In a post-”Lean In” world, it may just work.
Check out “The Bold Type” Tuesday nights on Freeform.
Photo credit: Freeform