Fandom Musings

My goodbye to The Bold Type

It is no secret that the for last few years The Bold Type has been an important part of my life. I’ve enjoyed the show as a whole, but Adena El Amin, Kat Edison and their relationship is what really captured me. Them, the way they represented parts of me I had never had a chance to see represented, and the small community that formed around them have been a cornerstone of my life for 4 years now.

It’s also no secret that over the last few seasons the show has brought me more disappointments that happiness. I’ve stuck around, trying to enjoy the few good moments, and hoping they would eventually do better. But you can only give a show, or anything, so many chances before you give up.

Ironically, my process of saying goodbye didn’t start with the current atrocious 4b storyline that finds Kat dating a conservative republican woman and being destroyed as a character because of it. It cemented my decision, but I had already decided not to watch anymore after the first half of the season, waiting once again for them to deliver on their promises of doing Adena and Kadena Justice. It was then that I finally couldn’t stop denying that no matter how times they told us they cared, that they were listening to us, they weren’t. And they were never going to. I got tired of hoping.

It’s not a linear process, though. It’s hard to let go of something that has been important to you, of something you loved. I’ve equated it with a breakup. And just like a breakup, it has been a process of letting go. Writing this is part of that process. When I say I’m saying goodbye To The Bold Type, I mean mostly that I’m letting go of the hope and the expectation the show cared about me, about us. That it cares to do better.

I won’t say goodbye to the characters I love, and that I will always hold dearly. I’m not saying goodbye to the fandom, small but passionate, full of smart people with all kinds of backgrounds I’ve learned so much from. If The Bold Type gets a season 5, I hope they do better by its queer and WOC viewers, its Black Bisexual character, and the actress that represents her. But I no longer have the energy to expect them to.

They are rightfully being called out for their treatment of Kat Edison on screen, and their approach to marginalized characters behind the scenes. But to be fair, there has been people telling them for at least two years now when and where they have gone wrong. They never cared to listen. Not for real.

Their latest storyline was just the last, and most outrageous, straw in a long line of mistakes. Most notably the treatment of their Muslim lesbian character and the differences in the treatment and storylines of Kat’s and her love interest, compared to Jane and Sutton.

The current political and world situation made it harder to excuse. I hope the conflation of these factors leads to real change. It is telling that they only reacted when there was a major, massive, and backed by big outlets, outcry, thanks to Aisha Dee speaking out about it. They had been told before, several times. They didn’t care to listen. They always thought the “bigger story” they wanted to tell was more important that it’s real-life consequences.

I won’t talk in this post about why their Eva/Kat storyline is all kinds of wrong. There are plenty of articles, by people far more equipped and better than me at tackling it. Here are some of them:

Remediality – ‘THE BOLD TYPE’ IS FAILING QWOC

Essence – ‘The Bold Type’ Is Failing Its Only Black Queer Female Lead

Vulture – The Bold Type Made a Last-Minute Finale Change

Autostraddle – “The Bold Type” Makes a Last-Minute Finale Change, But Kat’s Storyline Is Still a Huge Mess

And, of course, Aisha Dee herself gave us a look into the issues behind the scenes that lead to this disaster in front of it.

Read what Aisha Dee had to said

Last, I want to include this podcast by my friends at This Lesbian Shit, back after Season 2 when the Muslim fans felt abandoned by the show and raised their voice to question their portrayal of Adena.

The Complete and Utter Mishandling of Adena

Muslim LGBT Fans on Adena

Looking Back at the Good Memories

But my point with this article is not only to dwell on all the bad things. I want to say goodbye remembering what this fandom gave me.

I still remember the first time Kat and Adena crossed my path. It was on Tumblr, where I usually found about most things gay that interest me. Or used to. I probably started seeing people posting about them since the first episode of The Bold Type. The excitement about a possible couple with two woc was palpable. But I have to confess, I ignored them at first. It wasn’t until I saw their kiss in Episode 4 that I bit the bullet and decided to check them out. I had no idea how invested I would get.

To this day, that video has 13 million views. More than any other video the Bold Type related video posted by Freeform. That alone is evidence of the power they had. I say this with no fear of exaggerating. That kiss is the best first kiss between two women I have ever seen on TV.

But what really made Kadena my top ship of all time was when we saw Adena struggle with being deported from the United States after coming to visit Kat and then later, at the start of Season 2, having to deal with the stress of a visa, the isolation of being in a country that is not her own and where she is rejected, the conflict between wanting to be with the person you love but all the sacrifices you have to make, is something that resonated deeply with me for personal reasons.

Adena is not an exact representation for me, not as she was for Muslim Queer women. But I related to a lot of her struggles. I always expected the show to go deeper because there’s so much to tell. But they never did.

Trough it all, there have been great moments. Carry the Weight was an amazing episode, and when Jacqueline took those weights, it was so powerful. I learned to love and enjoy most of the characters (Fuck Pinstripe and all the time they devoted to him and the waste of time that was Patrick), I even learned to love Richard. I loved the beautiful moments of friendship between Kat, Jane and Sutton. I loved how Andrew keeps getting more room to steal scenes. Alex and Oliver, Sage. Angie. I love them all.

But the one thing I will treasure forever is those long months between Season 1 and Season 2, almost a year. When a small group of us spent months creating content, talking, and being excited for Season 2.

We were sure the show would get canceled, and we fought and campaigned, and told everyone they should watch. The conversations we had replying to each other posts and the elaborate Kadena wedding Muslim fans came out with. That included playlists, food options, and even fake invitations.

And then, when it got renewed, we waited, together. Excitedly dreaming about all the possibilities. The day of the Season 2 premiere. All of us coming together to watch at like 6 a.m. when it came out on Hulu. And then spending the whole day watching again and again.

Those are the moments that will stay with me and the people I’ve meet during this journey. It brought us happiness and frustrations, but in the end, the most important thing is that it brought us together. It motivated us to keep asking and working for better representation because we deserve it. Because we shouldn’t have to settle. Because it matters.

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