The Bold Type made a name for itself by not being afraid to tackle the serious issues that 20-somethings face in the same episode as a more light-hearted, “first world” issue they find themselves wrapped up in. “Stroke of Genius” brings us back to this formula as Alex realizes he was the subject behind a #MeToo story and does some self-examination as a result while Jane figures out how to spice up her sex life with Pinstripe.
Let’s dive right into the episode, shall we?
Alex’s college friend Kristen wrote a short story for New York Magazine that’s going viral about a woman being pressured during a hook up. Alex decides that he wants to pitch a profile on her to Jacqueline since he has an in with her. Patrick, of course, overhears the conversation that he, Jane and another co-worker are having and decides that he wants Alex to turn their conversation into a piece for the dot-com instead.
Alex meets up with Kristen for drinks but she drops a bomb on him; as it turns out, the Jeff character in the short story was based on Alex. Although it’s not solely based on Alex, he’s appalled because he doesn’t remember their hookup the same way that she does. She admits that since she was a writer and he had offered to read her clips, she was afraid that that offer was conditional on them having sex. “I got to say that I resent the implication of that,” he tells her. “C’mon, if you’re being really honest with yourself, you kind of knew what you were doing,” she honestly says to him.
Back at the office the next day, Patrick asks Alex how his story is going and Alex tells him he’s no longer writing it. When Patrick says that maybe Jane can take it on, Alex gets up and walks away from his desk, muttering under his breath about how it’ll just be “another story about how men are the worst.”
Sutton goes to talk Alex about what’s going on, since she’s supposedly the closest to him — although we haven’t seen evidence of that in quite awhile. Alex asks her if he pressured her back when they hooked up. Remember that was a thing? Yeah, I try to block that out of my memory too. Sutton says no and Alex admits to her that while he feels terrible about the whole thing with Kristen, a part of him thinks that what happened is simply called dating. Sutton plays devil’s advocate, saying that even though Alex might see herself, Kat and Jane as “strong, outspoken women”, they have all been Kristen at one point or another. “Stopping just because you want to can be harder than it seems,” she points out to him.
Alex then talks to Jane about the whole situation, asking her opinion on whether or not the character in the story is a bad guy. She says she doesn’t think he’s necessarily a bad guy, just that he’s a lot of guys. Alex then admits to her that Kristen based Jeff partly on him, and that this whole situation is “so crazy” to him because he didn’t realize he was doing those things. “That whole night was so routine to me but yet so jarring for her,” he tells Jane. He admits that since he found out, he’s been replaying all of his other sexual experiences in his head, wondering if he’s made anyone else feel uncomfortable. Jane tells him that although this might not have been his initial idea for the story, there might be something worth digging into in all of this.
The next morning, Alex tells Jane and Sutton that he apologized to Kristen and went through with writing the article. Sutton advises against admitting that he was Jeff in the article, for fear that he’ll be called out and that the entire situation could be turned into a PR nightmare. Kat agrees with Sutton and their advice definitely makes Alex momentarily reconsider abandoning the entire thing once again.
But it’s Jacqueline that ultimately convinces him to go through with it. She tells him that if “outrage culture becomes the driving force for our editorial decisions [then] I don’t even want to work here anymore.”
When he asks her point blank whether or not he should publish his piece, Jacqueline honestly responds, “I think this is a really vital piece of journalism. And I want you to know that if you do decide to publish, I will support you no matter what. But you’re the only who can decide if this is right for you.”
Of course, he gets slammed online once the piece goes live — as Kat and Sutton predicted — but a text from Kristen that simply reads “Read your story. Thanks for being an ally” seems to re-emphasize to him that he made the right decision.
This is the kind of story I’ve been wanting the writers to give Alex since the show started. I didn’t necessarily think it would come in the form of Alex loosely being the subject of a #MeToo story, but I love that they finally gave his character some actual depth. I hope this isn’t just a one-off episode and that moving forward Alex will continue to be intertwined into the larger story.
Kat is still really upset over the fact that Councilman Reynolds is turning Wild Susan’s into luxury condos. So she decides to take matters into her own hand and volunteer for the campaign of his opponent, Linda Zephyr.
Once she walks in and introduces herself as the head of social media at Scarlett, the campaign’s manager, Tia, seems very eager to get Kat’s expert opinion on Linda’s messaging. Realizing that Linda is going to need a lot of work, Kat goes to Jane and Sutton for help and they agree to pitch in, Sutton by giving Linda a fashion refresh and Jane by pitching a story on her to Patrick.
At the campaign office the next day, Kat sees Linda talking with one of her constituents and decides she wants to take a photo of the two of them talking so that she can tweet it. Linda’s hesitant about the idea, especially without the other woman’s consent, so Kat backs off.
Later on, Tia asks Kat for her help with getting people to attend Linda’s rally. As it turns out the last election was won by 150 votes and didn’t have high voter turnout, especially because that specific district contains a lot of students and young adults who aren’t out voting in primaries. So they really need to try to win over that demographic if they have any chance of beating Councilman Reynolds.
The rally is decently attended — thanks to Kat — but nobody is really paying attention to anything Linda really has to say. Kat gets up there to speak on Linda’s behalf, and was somehow able to capture the audience’s attention. However, that wasn’t enough in the end as Tia informs Kat that Linda’s dropping out of the race cause she no longer feels like she has what it takes. If Kat thought that was bananas, Tia and Linda drop the ultimate bomb on her: they think that Kat should challenge Councilman Reynolds instead.
Jane goes to pitch Patrick an idea for next piece but realizes when she tries to pull her document up on her computer that it is infected with spam. As it turns out, it’s apparently a specific kind of spam that you get from watching porn. Jane is shocked and insists that she’s not the one that’s been watching porn. Let’s be real, does anyone actually think that Tiny Jane would be watching porn?
The early guess is that Pinstripe is the porn-watching culprit, but Jane doesn’t want to just make assumptions. So Sutton and Kat show her how to bring back her magically deleted search history and what they find was that it was indeed Pinstripe who was watching porn while Jane was in the shower.
When Pinstripe comes home from hockey later that night, Jane makes an off-hand comment about him jerking off in the shower and low-key confronts him about the whole thing. Pinstripe says they’re not even having sex right now — which he’s not upset about — but he just got the urge. Jane questions why he never told her that he was into kinkier stuff before, and he says he didn’t mention it because he’s really okay with their sex life as is. Jane then claps back about him thinking she’s too “vanilla”, but not before she quickly realizes that she is in fact “vanilla.”
Jane asks Sutton and Kat for their advice on what to do to spice things up in the bedroom. Sutton suggests she and Pinstripe watch porn together and Jane immediately asks Sutton to send over her favorite links. Later that night, when the two of them are watching porn, it seems to inspire Jane to be a little more proactive with their “non-existent” sex life by encouraging Pinstripe to jerk off while she watches. After Jane is cleared to have sex, she and Pinstripe play out some sort of fantasy that involves Jane in a black body suit and a whip.
- “Ryan pinstriped all over Jane’s computer.” God, I love Sutton’s play on words.
- Speaking of Sutton, she meets with a designer who’s dress she dramatically altered in order to keep a shoot running. The designer leaves Sutton with an interesting thought: “If you want to design, be a designer.” After talking it over with Richard — who told her to “scratch that itch” if she’s so inclined — she opens up to Oliver about her conflicting desires. He offers to put in a word for her with his friend who runs a design bootcamp, but in the meantime she should keep working at Scarlett and maintaining the connections she’s made cause it’ll only make it 100 times easier on her.
- The Jacqueline-Patrick dynamic is still so fascinating to me. There’s clearly tension between the two of them but we haven’t gotten the chance to fully dive into it. I can’t wait until we do.
The Bold Type airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on Freeform.