Based on the exploits of former Cosmopolitan editor in chief Joanna Coles, Freeform’s The Bold Type introduces viewers to Scarlet magazine, a world of fashion, trending topics, and female empowerment. The female-led show from Parenthood writer Sarah Watson has gained a faithful following in its first season, with social media buzzing as fans discuss everything from the show’s relevance to its courage in tackling issues facing young women, and perhaps more than anything, how much fun it is.
“This is the kind of show I wanted to watch,” Watson tells EW. “We’ve been in the era of the anti-hero for the past few years and there are some sensational anti-hero shows out there, but at the same time, I want to come home and feel good and spend an hour with my friends. That’s how I used to feel watching Sex and the City, it’s how I felt when I watched Gilmore Girls. The hope to have that came out of the fact that that’s what I wanted to see on television.”
When it comes to balancing the fiction world of Scarlet with its real-world inspiration, Watson says “we start from a place of fiction” before figuring out how to add a bit of reality, something that often results in the writers’ room calling Holly Whidden, a co-executive producer on the show who also works at Hearst (the company that owns Cosmo). “We still want to tell the best, most interesting stories for the characters and then we call Holly and say, ‘This is what we’re thinking, how do we make that a little more real,'” Watson says.
And although much of the show falls into that area of “a little more real,” the show has also tackled a number of very real, important issues, from Twitter bullying to breast cancer. “Weirdly it wasn’t a conscious decision,” Watson says of taking on more serious stories. “I didn’t sit down and think, ‘How do I add weight?’ That was never where it came from. I think part of it is writing on Parenthood for six years — we always tackled these huge weighty stories so I think that’s in my writer DNA now.”
From the weighty stories to the not-so-much, we asked Watson to break down her inspirations for some of the show’s most memorable moments thus far.
The Subway Scream
The first scene of the pilot sees mag staffers Jane, Kat, and Sutton go underground to let out their frustrations by shrieking at a passing train.