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"Watching The Bold Type forced me to confront the very worst parts of myself."

Just a warning, this article contains minor spoilers for season two of The Bold Type on Stan. 

Writers using the old “Trojan Horse” trick to lure viewers into watching their TV shows is a tale as old as time.

In historical terms, the Trojan Horse story centres around the subterfuge used by the Greeks to enter Troy via soldiers hidden in an elaborate horse statue.

In the worlds of TV and pop culture, this is a trick still used today. Just to slightly less bloody but equally successful effect.

It’s the art of presenting a TV series in an enticing and palatable way, passing it off as a lighthearted or easily relatable fare, and then sprinkling a layer of topical relevance just beneath the surface.

With Orange Is the New Black, the Trojan Horse was Piper Chapman, a white and privileged woman who was sent to jail, and whose story provided an entry point for us to delve into a world of women of all different ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, and sexualities.

Likewise, The Good Place is really a show about philosophy, humanity and religion but was introduced to us through the politically incorrect yet entertaining Eleanor Shellstrop, all so we’d be more likely not to place it at the end of our Netflix queues.

The latest TV series to implement the Trojan trick is The Bold Type, which is currently available to watch in Australia on Stan.

Check out the trailer for The Bold Type, available to watch now on Stan.

Video by Stan

It’s the show every woman in Australia cannot stop talking about right now, but just like many shows that have come before it, The Bold Type arrived wrapped up in some pretty lush and loose packaging.

It’s been likened to both The Devil Wears Prada and Gossip Girl, and was widely spruiked as a trashy, fun-filled comedy with little substance (but great fashion) that you could easily watch in-between diving into much more critically acclaimed fair such as Bodyguard and The Sinner season two.

However, that sentiment is where the true brilliance of The Bold Type comes into play. At first glance all you see is a flimsy cocktail dress, but cast your eyes downwards and you’ll be met with a sturdy and sensible pair of heels.

As much as The Bold Type is filled with storylines covering beautiful clothes, handsome men and extended comedic sequences where women ask their friends to pull period/pregnancy/sex toy devices out of their vaginas (just quietly, what is with the prevalence of this particular storyline? It’s a plot point that has featured in Sex and the City, Younger and now The Bold Type. Are my friends and I the only ones who have never had to face this particular obstacle?) the show also delves into much heavier material.

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As a white, straight, able-bodied, middle class, city-dwelling millennial woman, The Bold Type is a series both created to appeal to me and tailored to reflect moments in my own life, albeit in a super-sized and glossed over fashion.

I know this fact alone makes me one of the privileged ones, part of a group who has always had some semblance of their world chronicled through popular culture, but in this case seeing your world play out on screen is the best way to have your greatest flaws placed beneath an immense spotlight for all to see.

Watching The Bold Type on Stan was an immensely enjoyable experience, but it also made me confront the very worst parts of myself – my actions and the privilege I live with.

The first instance where this show made me stop in my tracks (and put down my phone) was the season one finale episode entitled Carry the Weight.

In this episode, two of our leading ladies, magazine writer Jane (Katie Stevens) and social media director Kat (Aisha Dee), attempt to support a woman named Mia who stands in Central Park holding a pair of weights. The heavy implements in her hands symbolise the weight she is carrying following her sexual assault, a weight she hands off to other survivors when they come and stand beside her.

Jane and Kat try to reignite interest in her plight by launching a live stream video of Mia on the Scarlet website which, along with slew of social media posts and a few hashtags, quickly goes viral.

The two young media lasses are pretty pleased with themselves and their campaign, until their formidable editor Jacqueline Carlyle (Melora Hardin) points out that for all their Facebook likes and Twitter buzz, Mia is still left standing in the park all alone, holding the weights all by herself.

“This is how people show up now!” argues Kat to her editor. “They show up online.”

It’s a sentiment that rings true for so many millennials who pride themselves on their public activism, their inclusivity and the way in which they use their voices… just often from the keypads of their phones.

It’s a sequence in the series that made me question my own history of “showing up” and how I react to real life situations like the one chronicled here.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve “liked” a call to action on Facebook, shared outrage and support across my social media feeds, retweeted quotes from women smarter than myself and penned supportive pieces of writing during my work hours.

On paper, my track record looked pretty good, but when it comes to psychically showing up and giving some sort of tangible support that’s beyond typing from a keyboard, my past history looks a little less impressive.

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As I watched the final moments of that episode I was forced to make myself really consider whether or not I would have gone and stood in that dark park next to Mia so she wouldn’t have to champion her cause alone, as the characters in the show ended up doing.

To be honest, I have to say that it would not have crossed my mind to do so.

The conclusion to this particular storyline was a somewhat simplistic, clean TV ending to a much broader and more difficult issue, but that doesn’t take away from the truth it made me face up to.

Aisha Dee as Kat, Meghann Fahy as Sutton and Katie Stevens as Jane in The Bold Type. Source: Stan.

In season two of The Bold Type, in an episode entitled Stride of Pride, an unemployed and increasingly disheartened Jane comes close to landing a new writing job at a magazine she is eager to join.

However, her joy quickly turns to stinging rejection when she is told that although the editors considered her a perfect fit for the role they are looking to add more diversity to their company and as a white woman her voice is too similar to the entire team who already work there.

As she angrily voices her frustration and hurt to her friends that she "lost out on a job she is perfect for" Kat sees the situation a different way, considering she is both a biracial woman and a manger who is fighting to add more diverse voices to her own team at the Scarlet office, it hits a particular nerve with her.

"So you only believe in diversity when it doesn't affect you? When you don't have to give up your seat at the table?" Kat asks Jane, who angrily asks if her friend is inferring that she's racist.

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It's a difficult conversation to watch the two close friends have, as is their more extended debrief on the same issue later in the episode where they both discuss their privilege, but it's a necessary storyline that should be playing out across any TV show of this genre.

This episode was another moment in the series that made me deeply question my own actions and privilege.

In the past I have spoken publicly about the need for more diversity across TV and movie screens, I've recommended shows that championed this and tried to interview the people working on these projects to give their content some extra time in the media spotlight.

I'm happy to do all that and more, but the truth is I have not had to give anything to do it.

It's a much easier act to make a call for diversity, for more voices and to want more women lifted up, when you already have a seat at the table where so many dream of being able to sit.

When I really put myself in Jane's shoes, when I asked myself how I would feel if I was turned away from a dream job so a voice could be added to a team to rightly heighten the level of diversity, I am ashamed to say I would have had the same initial reaction.

I would feel cheated and I would feel wronged and thanks to my own immense privilege I would not have been immediately able to see that I was pushing against the very ideals I had always tried to champion.

Once again, the end game to this particular issue in The Bold Type was solved in a more simplistic fashion than could ever be entertained in the real world, yet it still brought a reality to the forefront of my mind that I had not properly confronted before.

The Bold Type is nowhere near the first TV show to examine these issues, nor have they done it in a better fashion than others.

What's important here is that such a mainstream show, one that is currently making such an impact, has been passed off as mere froth when there is a serious undercurrent prevalent throughout it.

Watching The Bold Type is a good reminder that we need to expect more from our TV shows, and from ourselves.

Seasons one and two of The Bold Type are now available to watch on Stan . Season three of The Bold Type will premiere on Stan in 2019, when episodes will drop weekly on the same day as the U.S.

For more TV and movie recommendations from Mamamia's Entertainment Editor Laura Brodnik, sign up for her newsletter or follow her on Facebook. 

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