The Fall TV season is underway, and I’m excited both for the return of old favorites and the possibility of being surprised by newly discovered shows. But in discovering new shows to watch, I’m confronted with an important realization: while queer visibility is growing, the specifics of the relationships that we have with each other remain homogenous. In watching “The Bold Type” and seeing a queer relationship that breaks out of that mold, I’m thinking about the importance of having a variety of queer relationships on TV.
If you haven’t heard of “The Bold Type” before, here’s the rundown. The Freeform show follows three twenty-somethings in media—Jane, Kat, and Sutton—but the show goes much deeper than just rehashing “Sex & The City” for a new generation. The show merges funny and serious moments, tackling heavier themes like feminism, racism, and navigating the workplace; the show has an optimistic take on what it means to work in media and follow your dreams.
I was initially drawn to the show because of its depictions of media. As a writer myself, I can’t help but let my curiosity rise when shows attempt to showcase the best (and sometimes the worst) of my profession. But the storyline, the warm nuanced depictions of female characters, and the optimistic tone of the show are what keeps me engaged.
With all of that in mind, the best part of the show for me is the way that it tackles romance—particularly between two characters, Adena and Kat. When we first meet Kat, she is the social media director of Scarlet magazine. She’s carefree, funny, and always there for her friends. For an assignment, she interviews Adena, a Muslim lesbian artist. Sparks fly between the two of them and despite Kat’s initial hesitation to acknowledge her feelings for Adena as romantic, she embraces them and by the end of episode 4 titled “If You Can’t Do It With Feeling,” the two are officially a couple.
There are many things to be excited about with “The Bold Type” but my love for the show and in the relationship between Adena and Kat were centered on an important realization: this is one of the few times that I have seen an interracial queer couple between two people of color.
Queer people of color already struggle with having the same amount of visibility from the LGBTQ community, but when it comes to our relationships, so much of what is shown in media is dominated by our relationships with white people. This has no bearing on the how important those relationships can be—there are certainly queer people of color who have friends, lovers, partners, co-workers, and family members that are white; and these relationships can be crucial and central in their development. However, there are so many significant relationships that queer people of color have with other people of color that is indescribably valuable and powerful. These relationships deserve to be centralized and celebrated within queer narratives as well.
Seeing Kat and Adena’s relationship reminds me of the people that I have loved. It reminds me that my relationship with current and past partners is normal, valid, and most importantly real. It reminds me that these relationships challenge and push me to be the best version of myself because I’m reminded how to care and make space for others in ways that serve me and others. And as someone who is Black, much of how I learned to connect with others and to be my best self has come from the relationships that I’ve formed with other Black and non-Black people of color.
Where are those stories in media? Where are those stories celebrated and centralized?
“The Bold Type” is one of the few shows that truly celebrates a queer interracial relationship between two people of color without fetishizing it. That means something, to me and other queer people of color whose relationships continue to be sidelined and invisible within larger queer narratives. On the heels of representation within queer media becoming less overwhelmingly homogenous (Lena Waithe’s recent Emmy win, movies like “Moonlight” and web shows like “Brown Girls”), it gives me hope to see walls of representation continue to be shattered, and in ways that are normalized as part of the show’s experience rather than being hypervisible for show.
With shows like “The Bold Type” bringing quiet advancement for queer media as a whole, I’m excited to see how we will be able to move forward and see a wider variety of these stories being told on television and beyond.