How “The Bold Type” Finally Started To Address Kat’s Blackness, One Step At A Time


John Medland / Freeform

Katie Stevens as Jane, Aisha Dee as Kat, and Meghann Fahy as Sutton on The Bold Type.

Midway by means of the primary season of The Bold Type, Kat (Aisha Dee) — one of many present’s three most important characters, and a black lady — takes a swing at a person who’d hurled a slur at her love curiosity, Adena (Nikohl Boosheri). A cop automotive pulls up, and Kat is straight away taken into custody. It was a chilling sight for any viewer who’d adopted the historical past — and the very real present — of black individuals harmed or killed by police violence.

But one thing was off. In the episode, Adena disappeared from Kat’s aspect in the course of the arrest in concern of how they’d react to her personal standing as a Muslim immigrant. And within the aftermath of her arrest, Kat was extra wrapped up in Adena’s absence than she was rattled by her personal expertise. In reality, she didn’t perceive Adena’s aversion to the police in any respect. “Everyone has a choice,” Kat instructed Adena when she confronted her about leaving.” “No, that is where you’re wrong,” Adena stated in response. “You had a choice. But I’m a Muslim lesbian living in today’s America. My choices are very limited.” Later within the episode, Kat’s white boss Jacqueline (Melora Hardin) defined to Kat why she must be extra empathetic to Adena’s response.

It was a storyline that felt off-kilter to some viewers. Though Adena did have each motive to concern an interplay with the police, it was odd to see a nonblack particular person of shade and a white lady clarify that to a black woman. It felt even odder contemplating that The Bold Type by no means as soon as, all through its total first season, ever acknowledged Kat’s blackness out loud.

“I needed to listen to her viewpoint, and for her to speak about her racial id.”

“For me as a viewer, when I watched the first season, I did notice it, and I wondered about it,” The Bold Type’s new showrunner, Amanda Lasher, instructed BuzzFeed News. The present was created by Sarah Watson, who departed after the primary season. When Lasher — who beforehand labored with Dee on Sweet/Vicious — took over as showrunner for Season 2, she made it some extent to dig deeper into who Kat is. “I wondered what it’s like for Kat as a character to have two white best friends and to live in this [media] world,” Lasher stated. “I wanted to hear her point of view, and for her to talk about her racial identity, since obviously it’s a part of who she is.”

By the time the arrest episode aired in July of 2017, The Bold Type had already constructed up goodwill with its viewers. Those who had been watching the sequence — which follows three greatest pals (performed by Dee, Katie Stevens, and Meghann Fahy) working at Scarlet, a fictional ladies’s journal based on Cosmopolitan — had been singing its praises throughout social media. Fans had been inspired by its depiction of a queer love story between two ladies of shade (Kat and Adena). They additionally cherished the central friendship and that the characters talked actively about feminist points. But the erasure of Kat’s blackness stood out, particularly because the character crusaded on behalf of different individuals’s identities — and notably as a result of the present was promoting itself as a feminist show for the modern age.


Freeform

Kat yelling after Adena as she will get arrested.

Lasher, for her half, got here to The Bold Type as a fan. When she took over as showrunner, she felt strongly that the “heart of the show” was the friendship between the three ladies, alongside the best way the sequence engaged with social points with “a sense of humor about things, and a warmth.”

She additionally needed to go deeper into its characters’ backstories. Kat’s is the primary we see, in Episode 2 of Season 2, “Rose Colored Glasses,” which aired Tuesday night time. In the episode, Kat is struggling to put in writing a bio to introduce herself to Scarlet’s viewers. Her coworker Alex (Matt Ward) means that she word in her bio that she’s the publication’s first black lady division head. But Kat balks on the concept, calling her race irrelevant to her place. Alex responds that she has a chance to be a task mannequin for younger ladies; Kat calls him out for questioning her blackness.

Lasher, who’d had conversations with Dee concerning the latter’s ethnicity whereas the pair had been at Sweet/Vicious, collaborated with the actor to combine Kat’s race into The Bold Type. “It was just something that I knew that I wanted to do pretty early on,” Lasher stated. “We just really wanted to make sure that we got it right.”

“We know that we can’t speak to everybody’s experience, but we can speak to Kat’s experience.”

That meant honing in on Kat’s background in a approach that expanded on the character whereas additionally offering an evidence for her reactions to sure occasions within the first season — like not serious about her blackness whereas she was getting arrested. “We know that we can’t speak to everybody’s experience, but we can speak to Kat’s experience,” Lasher stated. “We tried to be as specific as possible to what Kat was going through, and where she came from, and what her parents were like, and how that shaped her, so that we could understand why she made some of the choices she made in Season 1.”

In “Rose Colored Glasses,” The Bold Type introduces Kat’s mother and father (Curtiss Cook and Fiona Highet), a rich black man and white lady in New York City who raised Kat to not consider in labels and to see race as little as attainable. Her father’s motivation was to guard Kat from the black-and-white divide that coloured his childhood; her mom’s got here out of damage that different mother and father didn’t acknowledge Kat as her daughter on the park resulting from their totally different pores and skin colours. Both affected who Kat turned out to be: a biracial black lady afraid of admitting the affect that being black has on who she is and the way the world perceives her, whether or not she’s able to admit it or not.

“There are all these conversations going on about race, and the way we teach our children about race, and the way we raise our kids,” Lasher stated. “And there’s this sort of idea of raising your kids as color blind, which in the white community has been very present as a philosophy for raising your kids. And it’s well-intentioned, but I think it’s actually misguided, and this felt like an opportunity to explore that idea and how it’s not always beneficial.”


Phillippe Bosse / Freeform

Curtiss Cook and Fiona Highet as Kat’s mother and father in “Rose Colored Glasses.”

For Kat, her mother and father’ ways made her afraid of selecting sides, fearful that embracing her blackness would imply disrespecting her white mom and the position she performed in her life, and that selecting whiteness — a reasonably inconceivable alternative for a visibly black lady like Kat — she’d be rejecting her dad. “It was easier to deny both than to pick one,” Kat tells Alex. Throughout the episode, Kat slowly realizes that her mother and father’ technique for elevating her may need been damaging to how she sees herself, resulting in a tearful dialog during which she confronts them and tells them it’s time for her to go her personal approach. She notes to her girlfriend that her mother and father raised her with rose-colored glasses, and admits guiltily that she “chose to keep those glasses on, well after moving out.” By the top of the episode, she provides “black” to her bio. “I’m so proud to be biracial,” she tells Alex. “But right now it feels important to embrace this part of myself.”


John Medland / Freeform

Fahy, Stevens, and Dee within the pilot of The Bold Type.

“I think it’s a really big step for Kat,” Lasher stated, noting that that is solely the start of the present’s exploration of Kat and her relationship to her blackness. There is quite a bit to unpack, in any case, in the concept Kat’s even been in a position to dwell her life up thus far disengaged from blackness, when lots of people don’t get that alternative. Kat doesn’t move as white, both, which begs the query of how she’s responded to cases of racism all through her life — and the way her newfound engagement would possibly reconfigure how she sees on a regular basis microaggressions and even her two white greatest pals. “I think in terms of how people around her respond to that [awakening], it’s definitely a shift.”

For Kat and for The Bold Type, it’s one step at a time. “We continue the storyline, and the privilege of where Kat’s coming from, and also white privilege,” Lasher stated of what’s to come back. “It definitely comes up again in the season, and we tried to find a balance of how much, and where, and how it shifts her point of view about things.” As it stands now, The Bold Type is making a declaration: The present is coming into a brand new age, similar to Kat, with all the expansion and rising pains that include that.

Alanna Bennett is an leisure reporter for BuzzFeed News and is predicated in New York.

Contact Alanna Bennett at [email protected].

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