Fact-checking ‘The Bold Type’: Does the show get media jobs right?

Spoiler alert! This story contains details from Season 1 of The Bold Type.

Freeform’s The Bold Type continues the legacy of women working in media jobs, but it’s doing so in a style that’s boldly realistic — mostly.

The dramedy, which returns for its second season Tuesday (8 ET/PT), follows Sutton (Meghann Fahy), Kat (Aisha Dee) and Jane (Katie Stevens), a trio of New York twenty-something co-workers and best friends who met through their jobs at Scarlet, a fictional women’s magazine. It’s all loosely inspired by the life of former Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Joanna Coles.

A fictional heroine who works as a writer or journalist is a tried and true entertainment trope – think Sex and the CityHow to Lose a Guy in 10 Days or The Devil Wears Prada. And even though The Bold Type does glamorize life at a big-city magazine, it does so more authentically than most of its predecessors.

What does the show get right about working for a media company? We break down what’s realistic and what probably wouldn’t happen in real life.

Layoffs are never easy in any industry, but journalists have been hit particularly hard by pink slips. Media companies have had to cut large chunks of their staffs for the past decade, which puts more pressure on the remaining employees to do more with less.

The eighth episode of Season 1 (available on Freeform.com and Hulu) focuses on the anxieties and rumors that run through the office when everyone is scared that their job might be on the chopping block. It gets layoffs (mostly) correct, and allows the audience to see how the evolving newsroom copes with restructuring and the mandate to do more with less.

I know that television shows are supposed to be fantasy and aspirational, but most people who work in media jobs don’t wear crop tops or head-to-toe designer looks to the office.

All three main characters often show up at the office or work functions in off-the-shoulder tops, skirts that are a little too short and plunging v-necks. Although dress rules are certainly looser in magazine offices, an exposed midriff is usually considered a no-no while on the clock or representing the company at an event.

When Sutton is debating whether she should take a higher-paying ad sales job that she knows she won’t like or choosing a fashion assistant job that she loves but that will barely pay the rent, it feels so real. Editorial jobs definitely don’t pay as well as jobs in other industries, but the people in those roles often have a ton of passion for what they do.

What the fashion job lacks for in pay, Sutton makes up for in her negotiations, which is a positive representation for aspiring journalists who are figuring out how to make the hours and the pay work best for them. The show also does a good job of illustrating the experiences of women with different financial backgrounds, and how that affects each of them in their day-to-day lives.

Although the pep talks and friend meetings in the fashion closet tend to be some of the more sappy parts of the show, they give a nice glimpse of what it’s like to be young in the industry. Whether it’s coming into the office at 4 a.m. on a Saturday to cover the royal wedding or grabbing coffee in the break room, you make unique bonds with people in your age group as you work your way up.

Even if the sage patron saint of office wisdom isn’t a fairytale editor like in the show, you still have the chance to find a mentor and an advocate who will take you under their wing.

When Kat jumps on a plane to South America at the last minute during the Season 1 finale, she does so on a whim and seemingly without giving notice. Time off is already hard to come by in the industry. After all, news never sleeps and due to the ever-shrinking staffing situation, taking a day off often means coordinating in advance with co-workers. Time off is even harder to obtain if you don’t give adequate notice.

As someone who manages social media accounts for a major publication, I know perfecting social posts and pushing out content quickly in a thoughtful and accurate way can be a minefield at times. Unfortunately, mistakes do happen and the show does a fairly good job with its handling of Twitter mistakes and online trolling.

As the social media director at Scarlet, Kat has some autonomy with molding the magazine’s social-media channels, which rings true in an industry that is giving social media editors the reins earlier in their careers. However, it’s a little unrealistic that there wouldn’t be more teamwork between Kat and her co-workers when it comes to developing social strategy for a major publication and actually pushing out content on its accounts.

She also lived out some pitfalls experienced by real social-media editors , including having her personal information disseminated online as a form of harassment and accidentally tweeting a message meant for her friends from a work account. 

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