I Can’t Stop Thinking About The Insane Gun-Control Episode Of ‘The Bold Type’
Finally, representation for inner-city skeet shooters.
If there is one episode of media-fantasy The Bold Type that sums up the perplexing smorgasbord of absurdity that the show is known for, that I gobble up every week like a greedy little nonsense-pig, it has to be season 2, episode 7, ‘Betsy’.
The Bold Type, god bless them, will often take a big swing and usually a bigger miss when it comes to tackling important, topical issues — but they always step back up to the plate to flail wildly again, like a mildly concussed boy desperately trying to do daddy proud.
In fact, such has been The Bold Type’s commitment to tackling current social issues, you could consider the show to have a kind of woke ‘monster of the week’ attitude. Over four seasons, the show has tackled multiple aspects of race, queerness, body positivity and more, often with more nuance and sensitivity than it actually needs to. Sometimes not.
Episodes range from the quite terrible, and sometimes even insulting, to examples like season one’s quite remarkable ‘Carry the Weight’, about workplace sexual assault.
But there has never been an episode as strange as ‘Betsy’, in which The Bold Type attempts to tackle the thorny issue of US gun control. There has never been an episode as quintessentially The Bold Type. There has never been so much Jane, being so Jane, with such inane Janeity.
Skeet, Skeet, Motherfucker
“Why does your clarinet have a lock on it? Is it made of gold? Are you secretly rich?” is how the episode starts, as Jane is rummaging through Sutton’s closet. Sutton looks shifty, and tries to deflect — but if there’s one journalistic trait that Jane actually does possess, it’s the absolute inability to be put off an obsession, like a big dog smelling a delicious treat.
Jane keeps pushing, and finally Sutton sighs, and confesses.
“Ok, it is my gun… my shotgun. Betsy. From my days shooting skeet with the Kurt High School shooting club.”
Right here is already a perfect absurd juxtaposition. What we have to remember is that this show is about three fashion-forward mid-twenties millennial women, finding love, laughter and success in New York City! Nothing about that setup implies “secret shotgun”. It’s kinda like if Samantha in Sex and the City revealed she enjoyed recreational nunchuks (I’d believe it of Miranda, however).
So, once they bludgeon us over the head with this premise, we immediately move into a strange world where we have to accept that gun-toting young ladies roam New York — but more importantly, we have to understand that Jane Sloan is upset about this.
Jane Sloan is upset is the summary of seasons 1-3 of The Bold Type.
“You know owning a gun is crazy, that’s why you kept it from me” says Jane, towering above us all on her habitual high horse. While it has been shared more equally between the main characters in later seasons, Jane’s character is always attending a kind of deranged rodeo, in which she rides that high horse until sundown, absolute hoofing everyone around her with her strong and resolute opinions.
“I kept it from you because I knew this would be your reaction” answers Sutton, sensibly, knowing Jane.
“Do you have a MAGA hat, and do you drive a monster truck?” presses Jane.
Thus, the inherent conflict of the episode is established — Jane, appalled at the gun, Sutton, bizarrely, covetous.
Kat during that whole gun debate on the last episode of The Bold Type pic.twitter.com/PGB3E8oXa9
— Tom (@_WinterAnderson) July 23, 2018
“Let Me Just Ask You Something — How Do You Feel About All These Mass Shootings?
Obviously owning a gun is a charged issue in the US — according to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 260 mass shootings, resulting in 226 deaths, in 2020 (as of June 30) ALONE. Engaging with the debate around gun laws and ownership is obviously something to applaud, and something necessarily in the zeitgeist.
It definitely fits in with the woke monster of the week idea, but that doesn’t explain the way the show attempts to engage with the discourse. Why attempt to make gun owners sympathetic through the beloved sport of skeet shooting? Why make Jane’s distaste centred on the fact that she was **near** Columbine when it happened?
“Ok… I was in first grade when Columbine happened. I wasn’t there, but I was five miles away.”
Why turn it into a **debate**, which makes Sutton and Jane appear to be extremes, with Kat comfortably in the middle, just kinda blankly curious about guns?
“I’m tired of feeling guilty about something me and my gun had no control over,” Sutton says, after Jane asks her how she “feels” about mass shootings. Why did it get turned into a point of class (which the show RARELY touches upon), with Sutton rightly pointing out Jane’s wealthy New York privilege?
“Reality Jane. Central Pennsylvania, where I’m from — you know nothing about it. You know nothing about my gun and nothing about my shooting club.”
There could be a lot of Australian privilege going on here, a country famously devoid of assault rifles, and blessedly free from many mass killings in recent times — but it feels like the “debate” around guns is pretty obviously skewed to just… not having them. It’s the only way to stop them. Right?
“I Love Everything About My Best Friend — Except Her Gun.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be The Bold Type if Jane didn’t spend three weeks writing a terrible 400 word article, and somehow managing to make it all about herself.
She also has this bizarre interaction with Jacqueline, her boss.
Jane: “Did i do something wrong…you seem irritated and annoyed” (after receiving normal feedback to her terrible story)
Jacqueline: “I’m neither. What I am Jane, is your boss.”
While she’s writing the BEAUTIFULLY titled ‘I love everything about my best friend — except her gun’, she manages to grab her two friends in the middle of a work day and go shooting. What do they all do all day???? Who has time for shooting! Half this episode takes place at a gun range! I barely have time for lunch.
Why did The Bold Type have a gun debate episode? Who forced them to do this?
— Shannel thee Shetland (@ShyFieri) May 26, 2020
Honestly, I hate to cast shade at my friends in the print media industry, but if they are regularly taking time out to go shooting and discuss the ethics of gun ownership, then maybe it explains why their industry is in such a state.
But, to top it all off, to round out our weird nightmare journey, the episode ends with Jane psychoanalysing Sutton’s love of shooting as actually just being a love of control, because she used to shoot to escape her alcoholic mother. Which, sure — I’m not sure what that adds to the national discourse around mass shootings, but go off.
Sutton, despite not changing her views about guns, then melts Betsy down and gifts it to Jane — deciding that it was not worth making her friend uncomfortable. We are left with the moral that sometimes… sometimes… people are skeet shooters — and that’s OK.
What a takeaway! This show! Looks like gun control is SOLVED.
The Bold Type is currently on Stan, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Patrick Lenton is the Editor of Junkee. He tweets @patricklenton. He shoots skeet to try and feel control over his fabulous life.