Don’t get me wrong–I love The Bold Type. It’s a fearless-ahem, bold- show that tackles important issues ranging from sexism in the workplace to sexual assault and even American immigration policies. The show is written in a way so that it feels genuine when tackling such heavy issues, while also keeping the characters from coming across as too serious or emotional. It’s a so-called ‘social justice’ show that wears it’s humor and love triangles like a charm.
Still, episode two and three of season two, “Rose Colored Glasses” and “The Scarlet Letter,” have left me pondering the issue of privilege. Spoiler alert ahead: Jane gets fired from her job at Incite, yet she’s able to bounce back more easily than a normal person would. She has a ton of connections in the world of journalism, and despite being turned away from any long-term positions, she’s still able to land a freelance gig at a medical journal. It’s not much, but it’s enough for Jane to keep searching for a job while also paying the bills.
Therein lies the problem: Jane lives with two of her best friends who work at an upper-class magazine. Jane has connections in the world of journalism to keep her weekly pay afloat. Jane doesn’t really have to worry about her being fired. She has the luxury of relying on her circle of friends to dig herself out of a jobless hole. She has a privilege not many common New Yorkers do.
If The Bold Type prides itself on exposing issues in society, from sexism to, indeed, economic privilege, it needs to reflect on it’s own characters. Granted, Sutton’s economic troubles were exposed in Season One: She grew up with a single mom in a relatively poor household, and “worked hard” to become an assistant at Scarlet before applying for a job in the Fashion Department. She went to business school at Penn State because she couldn’t afford higher-end schools. Despite these aspects, not enough info is provided about Sutton. How did she “work hard” to get to where she is? How can one really live in New York on an assistant’s salary and be able to afford basic living necessities and more? Surely, two roommates isn’t enough to offset the heavy bills of a New York apartment.
According to Financial Samurai, in New York a person can afford basic necessities on a salary of $100k per year, though they won’t have much leftover to spend or save. According to Indeed, the average salary for an Editorial Assistant at a magazine in the city is $36,311. The pay for a Fashion Assistant is even less, at just under $23,000. Respectively, the average cost of a two bedroom apartment in Manhattan is $3,895, plus an additional $127 for utilities. Factor in the cost of cabs and public transit, food, clothing, etc–There’s no way for any fresh-faced journalist or fashionista to stay afloat in the city with their salaries, even with roommates.
There’s an aspect that explains a lot about Kat, Sutton and Jane. They’ve been with Scarlet for quite a while, and have risen through the ranks to be making more of a respectable salary. With Kat working as a department head, Sutton assisting one of the biggest fashion designers in the world, and Jane writing groundbreaking articles, surely they are all making enough money to live comfortably. But they’re all still quite young. They made it in the city–I’d just love to see how.
The Bold Type constantly inspires me, and each and every episode reinvigorates my dreams of moving to the city to become a successful journalist. I just hope I can get there despite the lack of connections, friends to room with, etc. I hope I can make it in the city without such privileges.