The hallowed halls of Scarlet Magazine have been a sanctuary these past three seasons on The Bold Type, but now we may have to contend with a world where that sanctuary no longer exists.
In the Season 3 finale, Jane Sloan (Katie Stevens) and Jacqueline Carlyle (Melora Hardin) had to deal with the tough consequences of publishing the Pamela Dolan (Laila Robins) story on Scarlet's website rather than publishing it in the magazine, handing over the win to Patrick (Peter Vack) rather than Jacqueline. Additionally, they struggled not to internalize the "fake feminists" label Dolan threw at them while lashing out about their exposé.
Ultimately, Jacqueline was forced to take a deep look into the ways she was failing to uphold her own moral standards when it came to Scarlet's use of underage models to perpetuate unrealistic and unhealthy standards of beauty. As a result, she decided to overhaul the entire fall issue in just 17 hours so it was more inclusive and more feminist. The team managed to pull it off at the last minute, but that might not matter in the end, because as Jane, Kat (Aisha Dee), and Sutton (Meghann Fahy) entered the office the next morning, the whole place was being torn down and packed up in boxes.
So is this the end of Scarlet? TV Guide spoke to Melora Hardin about that last-minute twist and what it means not just for Jacqueline, but the entire Scarlet team.
First and foremost, what the heck does that ending mean for Scarlet?
Melora Hardin: Well, I think your guess is as good as mine. I can't give you spoilers about Season 4 because I don't really know, to be honest... It looks like maybe Jacqueline's out, but that would be very strange, wouldn't it? I think it is quite a shake-up for sure, and it's going to be interesting to see how that all plays out.
Do you think she and Patrick were finally getting to a place where digital and the magazine could work effectively together?
Hardin: Yes, definitely. They were starting to have sort of a way that they might work together even though they're not friends or buddies. I think they're finding their professional groove. I think Jacqueline sort of led the way for that, and Patrick stepped up to the plate just before it all seemed to be having the great divide.
How do you think that relationship progressed over the course of the season?
Hardin: I feel like Jacqueline was super aware of his sort of ageist prejudice. I think he definitely was a great example of someone who was being led by ageism and [was] quite prejudiced because of that, and I think she showed him by her actions more than by her words that she is absolutely still relevant and completely brings her 10,000 hours plus to this and that experience is valuable. Experience is certainly something that shouldn't be scoffed at or undermined... I think she recognized his value. I think his value is obvious, and it's not a place she has skills. Jacqueline was handling it with grace and integrity, as she does, and their evolution obviously was tense and tight but ... I think that what you finally see in the finale is her kind of saying, "OK, enough is enough."
We saw how conflicted Jane was about this investigation into Pamela Dolan, but do you think Jacqueline had any of those same reservations?
I think she definitely was concerned in the sense that nothing in real life is black and white, right? There's always shades of gray in there, and I feel like that's kind of the point and one of the great things about The Bold Type in general. We try really hard to make sure that we try to speak to all the different angles if possible. That is a problem, right? People are complicated, and someone can be abusing their power but also have done good things for women. I don't think Jacqueline feels conflicted in the same way that Jane does because she's more mature and just has more experience. I think she feels more like it's unfortunate. It's unfortunate... but you have to expose it. If you don't expose it then you're not doing the right thing. So, I don't know that she felt conflicted, I think she felt like it was unfortunate. And then I think she felt like Pamela Dolan is staring down the barrel of the gun with no fear, she's just like, "I'm going to win because I've always won," and I think that makes Jacqueline go, "No, you're not, not this time."
Why do you think the term "fake feminist" is thrown around so much, especially when women criticize other women?
Hardin: I think that we are living in a time and a culture right now that is obsessed with labeling and putting a quick and very one-dimensional label on somebody and then kind of promoting that as the truth. I think that that again is one of the great things about The Bold Type; we really are trying very hard to be an example of the fact that life is multi-dimensional and people are multi-dimensional. There is not one tag you can put on someone and be accurately describing their personhood. I think you can be considered extremely pro-feminist, but then you could do something like Pamela Dolan that can be completely anti-feminist. I think that Pamela Dolan is a great example of that. That character is absolutely a feminist in some ways. She's also completely an anti-feminist and completely against women. I think that's why labels and tags are so dangerous, because you can't possibly incorporate a whole person and all the complexities of what we all are in one word or one tag or one hashtag. It's just not possible. To me, it plays into the most base, shallow part of human [nature]. To me it's just not an evolved way of going about life. It's not even an effort to go a little deeper. I think it's a really important subject to be dabbling in and discussion on the show and letting our characters be questioning themselves. We all need to be questioning all the time, that's an important thing.
Why do you think that accusation made Jacqueline reflect on her own choices and whether they were truly feminist?
Hardin: I think Jacqueline is a thinker and she cares and she has a lot of heart and a lot of integrity. I think that she's listening and she's paying attention. She's paying attention to what's happening around her intimately in personal relationships, in business relationships, what's happening in society, and I think she's aware of that. She's aware that when somebody says something that makes ... an employee like Jane, [whom] she cares for, that she has personal feelings of love and admiration for and is a mentor to -- I think when that person, especially that person, says something like, "That doesn't make us fake feminists, does it?" I think she has to consider that. That's her nature. When she does consider that, she realizes, "I need to be a better example, an even better example than I am now. This magazine, what I brought to it, that it would be an empowering magazine for women, and in order to stay with the times, you have to stay with what's going on in the conversation." The conversation changes. It changes from year to year and from decade to decade and that's one of her greatest skills sets, that she's listening. She's listening and she's aware and she's always questioning herself and her choices and then when she goes forward, she goes forward with confidence and gusto.
How do you think Jacqueline weighed this opportunity to overhaul the fall issue with the knowledge that she was in a tenuous position with the board?
I think she's weighing everything all the time, but what I think is amazing about her is she does the right thing. She continues to, even when it's hard and it might mean losing the thing that she loves -- the job she loves, these people she loves, it might mean that. And if it means that, she gets to stay and be somewhere that she feels is not matching her inner moral judgment, her inner integrity, then I don't think it would be worth it for her. She continually has to take those risks and face those challenges, which are really internal risks and internal challenges for the most part. I think she's very aware of all of that and continues to keep taking that leap, which I think is part of what makes her so inspiring. She follows her own moral compass, which is really finely tuned based on her experience and her age and all those things.