Jane Sloan Is The Worst Character On ‘The Bold Type’
In every show there’s always one character who grinds its audience’s gears.
In every show there’s always one character who grinds its audience’s gears. There’s Orange is the New Black’s Piper Chapman, April Kepner from Grey’s Anatomy, and the entire core cast of Girls — and The Bold Type has Jane Sloan.
The Bold Type centres on three young women working at the millennial women’s magazine “Scarlet”.
Sutton (Meghann Fahy) claws her way from personal to fashion assistant, her poor and unpredictable upbringing being the driving force behind her persistence.
Kat (Aisha Dee) is the youngest department head at Scarlet, where she runs their social media while navigating her bi-racial identity, her newly queer sexual identity, and her same-sex relationship with a queer Muslim woman, Adena. Phew!
Then there’s Jane.
Played by the endearing Katie Stevens, Jane is a newly promoted writer for Scarlet and is perhaps most closely compared to one of the most annoying, selfish and privileged female TV characters of the past twenty years: Sex & the City’s Carrie Bradshaw. Sleeping, writing and shopping her way through New York City, Carrie inspired legions of young women to try to make it as writers in the big city, The Bold Type’s characters included.
I Came To Scarlet Magazine To Make A Difference
Jane quickly establishes a foothold at Scarlet by apparently adeptly melding reporting and personal essays — which she then parlays into a gig at an upstart political website and, then, tries her hand at a freelance career when she’s fired from said website. It’s a whirlwind.
Jane is like Carrie not just in occupation but in self-preoccupation.
She manages to make everything about herself, such as when she co-opts her friend with benefits’ side hustle as a gossip reporter, or when she has an existential crisis over her new boyfriend Ben’s religious beliefs — calling to mind Carrie’s struggle to accept a lover’s bisexuality in season three of Sex & the City. The Bold Type does differ in its exploration of queerness thankfully, handling Kat’s attraction to women with sensitivity and validation, not brushing it off as a “layover on the way to Gaytown”, as SATC does.
Watching The Bold Type. Tiny Jane is the worst.
— D.E.O. (@ImJustDEO) January 8, 2019
Jane is white privilege personified, which The Bold Type takes pains to point that out every couple of episodes. In a season two episode, Jane and Kat have an argument about Jane lamenting the fact that she missed out on a job because the company prioritised the hiring of people of colour.
“They’re making a push for diversity,” Jane says. “It just feels really unfair. I feel like I would have have gotten the job [if it weren’t for that].”
“So you’re all for diversity as long as it doesn’t affect you?” Kat calls her out, and Jane ends the scene by being offended by it being inferred that she might be racist.
Jane from The Bold Type whenever someone questions her angle for a story. https://t.co/KZaW9dfgSo
— Jules LeFevre (@jules_lefevre) December 16, 2018
“Can You Not Narrate This?”
This is just one example of how The Bold Type uses Jane’s privilege to mine bigger issues.
Another is when Jane clashes with Sutton in an episode about gun control and ownership. When Jane learns that Sutton, with whom she lives, keeps a shotgun in their apartment, Jane freaks out because the Columbine massacre happened near her when she was a child. Jane endeavours to write about it, being so set in her ways that she’s unable to see Sutton’s point of view and her editor Jacqueline (Melora Hardin), ever the voice of reason, makes Jane rework her draft to be less judgemental.
Sutton, who grew up in a small, rural town where gun ownership was commonplace, is the one who has to reassess why she has a gun in their metropolitan abode while Jane merrily continues with her worldview intact.
Jane’s problems, such as not having had an orgasm and getting a yoni egg stuck inside her vagina, can seem petty in comparison to Kat getting arrested for defending Adena’s freedom of religion and Sutton trying to negotiate a raise so she can afford to stay in New York without the support of a well-off family to fall back on.
Jane from The Bold Type. https://t.co/wacW4wyYjN
— David Sarfati (@imDavidSarfati) January 3, 2019
Though it’s not really addressed how Jane manages to keep herself afloat financially when she’s fired from the above-mentioned political reporting job, it’s presumed that her father helps her, just like Carrie presumes that her friends, Charlotte and her ill-fated engagement ring specifically, will help her put a deposit on her apartment.
Sorry, ladies; one freelance column is not going to bankroll your Manhattan lifestyle.
“Yes, I’m Very Interested In A Butt Facial.”
Some of the crises that arise in Jane’s drama-fuelled life do have credence, though.
For a story, Jane decides to get tested for the BRCA1 breast cancer gene, the disease that her mother died from, which forces her to reckon with her mortality and consider freezing her eggs.
Probably the most jarring thing about Jane, though, is that she is an identifiable touchstone for many young, white, upwardly-mobile viewers of the show — myself included. I’m not sure the creators intended for Jane to be as passionately ill-received as she is, but Jane’s blind privilege at times can be confronting and uncomfortable. I, too, am a white, cisgender, straight woman writer working her way up the ladder, but I can use Jane and other characters like her as examples of what not to do.
Jacqueline: this issue we’re focusing on Christmas
Sutton: I’ll think of a fashion angle
Kat: I’ll start a dialogue with our digital readers for inspiration
Jane: actually when I was 9 I found out Santa was a fraud so this is obviously a sensitive subject for me
— Tara Watson (@tara_watson_) November 24, 2018
The Bold Type has proven to be pretty good at dissecting the issues and righting its course in the face of criticism. Season two received a new show-runner who addressed the feedback that Kat wasn’t in tune with her blackness, and her aforementioned arrest was out of step with how people of colour interact with police IRL.
It is likely next year’s season three will continue to do this, hopefully by pushing Jane further out of her comfort zone to really reckon with the aspects of her personality and identity that rankle viewers lest she end up as the latest in a long long of irritating, privileged New Yorker characters.
Or at the very least Jane’s inability to see other’s perspectives will provide some great drama between her, Kat and Sutton.
*British accent* That’s next on The Bold Type.
You can stream both seasons of The Bold Type on Stan.
Scarlett Harris is an Australian culture critic. You can read her previously published work at her website, The Scarlett Woman, and follow her on Twitter @ScarlettEHarris.