9:41am PT by Jean Bentley
How 'The Bold Type' Season 2 Tackles Politics, Power Dynamics, Identity and More
The second season of Freeform's magazine dramedy, The Bold Type, might have a new showrunner, but new executive producer Amanda Lasher didn't want to change much about what the series has been doing. Lasher, formerly of MTV's vigilante dark comedy Sweet/Vicious, tells The Hollywood Reporter that she didn't start her new job with the idea of shaking things up for the trio of young Scarlet Magazine employees at the center of the show.
At the end of season one, star writer Jane (Katie Stevens) had just taken a job at a Huffington Post-esque startup; fashion assistant Sutton (Meghann Fahy) had ended her relationship with Scarlet board member and lawyer Richard (Sam Page); and Kat (Aisha Dee) had spontaneously hopped on a plane to travel with girlfriend Adena (Nikohl Boosheri).
"I came on very much in the spirit of wanting to continue all the great work that had already been established," Lasher says. "There were things, though, that as a fan I felt that I wanted to deepen and places that I wanted to see the characters go — learning about their backstories more and what made them tick and how they became the people that they became."
Most importantly, she wanted to stay true to the characters as they'd been written in the first season.
"We really want to show how intelligent these women are, and how they succeed because they're smart and they work hard, and that their successes are a direct result of them putting effort into what they do," Lasher says.
Below, she discusses how gun control, politics, sexual assault and even the Harvey Weinstein case will or will not play a role in the second (and third) seasons of the series; the show returns June 12.
What are some specific examples of things you wanted to touch on in the second season?
Kat's racial identity was something that I was really curious about. What made her make some of the decisions that she made in season one? I wanted to dive into how she became the person that she became, and how she viewed her racial identity and unpack some of that. It was a great way to start to tell stories about how we define ourselves, and how we define ourselves in relationship to our parents and how we define ourselves when we become fully realized adults. I think that's a universal story, but I liked the idea of exploring it through Kat's understanding of how she was going to define her racial identity, and take ownership of it.
What else did you want to touch on?
I was really interested in this idea of what it's like to come from a world where you are not surrounded by privilege, where you don't have a lot of money, you don't have so many opportunities, and then be thrust into this fashion world where you're around wealth and success and privilege, and what that's like for Sutton. I'm really excited because this season we're going to meet her mom, and you're going to see her go home, and see where she comes from and what shaped her.
What did you want to address with Jane?
I really wanted to see her fail. I wanted to see how Jane dealt with working for somebody who wasn't this idealized boss like Jaqueline (Melora Hardin), who's such a dream. And I really wanted to see how Jane would handle herself when she didn't have the fashion closet to go to immediately, and she didn't have a mentor guiding her through every screw-up. I was also really looking forward to pulling apart how she was going to handle her BRCA status.
Season one tackled sexual assault from the point of view of survivors. Now that there are some really vocal movements out in the world, such as #MeToo, is that something you'll continue to focus on?
We're tackling a broad spectrum of social issues, and what's really important to me is to always tackle these issues through the scope of the girls' friendship. I thought that this show did an amazing job tackling that storyline in season one and was very much ahead of its time with that. And I appreciated that, because the show that I came from before this was called Sweet/Vicious, which also tackled sexual assault from the point of view of the survivor. I know how important those stories are and how meaningful they are. And I thought that The Bold Type did an amazing job with it.
This season is also going to tackle power dynamics and relationships at work. Obviously, in Hollywood the Harvey Weinstein case is the most prominent example of that power being abused. Will you touch on that at all this season?
We don't touch on anything like that, but these issues do play in the background in this season, and one of the beauties of having a two-season pickup is that we have time to delve into these issues in season three.
What else did you want to tackle?
Something that I really wanted to talk about, especially as the mother of daughters, is body positivity. So we have an episode that talks about that. And something that we all talked about is slut shaming, and how to address that issue, and so throughout the season we dive into different topics with different levels of intensity. But again, always ... from a character-based point of view, and through the lens of the friendship as always our touch point.
In the first season, Jane writing about politics was a big plot point, so how deep do you dig into politics in this season?
It's definitely again something that you feel in the show, but we were also really mindful of the fact that things are moving really fast right now, and so we want it to feel both current but not something that was going to immediately feel dated when it aired. And so we are tackling issues that I think are really relevant right now, but we tried to do it in a way that was not tied to a specific thing, necessarily. So for instance, we have an episode that gets into privilege, and white privilege and class privilege. That felt like a conversation that's happening a lot right now and that we're all having in our lives. We wanted to tackle that, because that's something that we're all thinking about right now, and especially after the election.
And there's going to be a gun-control episode as well, right?
Yeah, we're talking about guns later in the season, and for that we wanted to do an episode that talked about the gun issue in a way where it was grounded in who they were and where each girl came from and their point of view and experience with it from a character point of view, as opposed to a "ripped from the headlines" story.
It's interesting because the first season touched on dealing with internet trolls, and gun control is something lots of trolls like to talk about. Do you ever think about the reaction you're going to get from people online when you touch on something like that?
We think about it in the sense that we are always talking about how we want to respect our audience and respect the fans. We want to honor these characters that they love so much, and that we all love so much, and not sell them out. The audience may disagree with one of the character's positions on something, but they would still say, “Yeah, I can see that that is Jane's point of view, and that that is where Jane would be coming from, even if I don't agree with it.” Or like, “I think Kat's wrong here, but I get why she's saying it.” So we think about it in the sense that we just always want to make sure that the audience feels that we are telling stories that are true to the characters that they love. Starting conversations is absolutely interesting to us, but we're not looking to grab headlines necessarily with the stories that we're telling, as much as we're looking for ways to explore issues. In a way, this show gives us the opportunity to go so much deeper with issues than you normally can, and so it's a real gift to be able to do that.
Is there a big, overarching storyline this season that you're going to follow?
Oh, my God, there's so many. I would say Kat being in love for the first time, and being in a relationship for the first time is a huge thing. And I would say Jane finding her way through leaving Scarlet is a big thing. I'm trying to say things but without giving spoilers, because I'm the worst! I'll tell you what's on the last page of a book, I'll tell you the last scene. For Sutton, I think it's really now that she's finally arrived and gotten what she wanted, which is a career in fashion, how does she climb the ladder of fashion when she doesn't come from the same background and privilege that some of the people she's rubbing shoulders with do?
Lastly, Kat and Adena are together, but what about Sutton and Richard?
Sutton and Richard have a connection that, even when they're apart, it cannot be broken.