Who would have thought Freeform of all networks would give viewers a Muslim lesbian hijabi? Not me.
After seeing mentions of her on Twitter, I had to watch the two-episode premiere of The Bold Type. The main characters, Jane Sloan (newly promoted writer), Kat Edison (newly promoted social media director), and Sutton Brady (still an assistant to the executive editor Lauren) are employees of Scarlet a global woman’s magazine like Teen Vogue or Seventeen. Inspired by the life of Cosmopolitan’s former editor in chief, it explores their lives in New York City as they “learn to find their own voices” as well as their sexuality, identity, love, and fashion. This article focuses primarily on Adena El-Amin (portrayed by Iranian, Nikohl Boosheri) and my overall reactions to the show.
Five minutes into the pilot, Kat finds out that Adena, who does not believe the magazine is feminist, pulled a written article about her work. (Reminiscent of responses to Teen Vogue and other magazines’ articles after the election.) She decides to find Adena and convince her to allow the article to run. We learn that Adena’s “repressive” country criminalized sex toys, so Kat helps her take apart toys to take back to Adena’s unnamed nation. The conversation that follows is perfect. Besides the implications that Kat is probably less “hetero” than she thinks, Adena gets to say what many of us who wear hijabi feel when asked why.
The hijab is something Adena chose and does not put her in a box. It liberates her from society’s expectations of what women should look like and she likes to make people feel uncomfortable since they cannot put her in a box. Sounds about right. Their conversation changes Adena’s mind, however, and Scarlet publishes the article.
Unfortunately, the smuggled vibrators causes major issues. Jacqueline, the editor-in-chief (an awesome mentor who tells BEYONCE she will call her back to help Jane), helps get Adena a lawyer. The first episode ends with Adena’s release due to the help of the lawyer Jacqueline recommended.
“O Hell No”
In the second episode, Lauren wants a follow-up with Adena, who has gone off the grid. Kat has to find her while also dealing with the fact that she had a sex-dream about Adena! (I truly gasped.) Fortunately, due to plot Adena walks into Scarlet herself to invite Kat to a new gallery showing. There, Kat and viewers find out that Adena has a partner. This may have helped Kat to figure out her feelings for Adena but only future episodes will tell.
Overall, the show surprised me by how much it made me laugh and care about the characters. Jane’s arc where she tries to impress Jacqueline but keeps freaking out was really relatable to me. Plus, Kat helping remove a yoni egg that gets stuck during Jane’s attempt to orgasm for the first time was hilarious! The only arc that I was not completely on board with at first was Sutton’s hidden relationship with Richard, a board member and lawyer for Scarlet.
But then her interest in working in fashion and moving on from being Lauren’s assistant was introduced in episode 2. Richard turned out to be very supportive and willing to go public with their relationship, and I immediately liked both him and her arc way more. It would have been cliche to continue with the hidden relationship, so I appreciated the change.
Additionally The Bold Type‘s commentary on media being feminist, diverse, and empowering while including things like fashion and makeup is spot on and I truly enjoyed Jacqueline’s character. It would have been entirely too easy to make her a mean boss, so her mentorship is refreshing. In fact, Lauren is a great boss too. A little less emotionally connected maybe but still a great mentor when Sutton needs it.
Last month I wrote about Salim from American Gods as a Muslim gay man, and I cannot believe that Freeform gave me a well rounded Muslim lesbian hijabi! The show definitely hooked me and I cannot wait to see where Kat and Adena go from the pilot.