EVEN MORE COSMO: “The Bold Type,” a new show closely based on Cosmopolitan, held a screening and premiere party in New York on Thursday night.
Unlike “That’s So Cosmo,” E!’s reality show about life at the Hearst-owned title that debuted earlier this year, “The Bold Type” is a scripted, fictionalized series that follows three BFFs as they navigate the professional and personal drama of working at Scarlett, a magazine that sounds a lot like Cosmo — it covers sex and fashion but is actually all about female empowerment. Not surprisingly, the editor in chief, played by Melora Hardin of “Transparent” fame, is modeled after former Cosmo editor in chief Joanna Coles (she’s also an executive producer).
“What I wanted to do is show that women bosses can be supportive. They are not all b—hes, and this idea that in fashion, the woman boss is somehow mean-spirited felt inaccurate. That’s not who I am, that’s not who the women I work with are,” Coles explained. “It’s a little sad to me that the fashion industry has always been represented through the lens of being this mean, b—hy world because that has not been my experience of it. My experience of it has actually been that the women in it are very funny and smart and creative and commercial, and that’s been hijacked by the idea that the fashion world should be nasty.”
“’The Bold Type’ is our love letter to feminism,” Karey Burke, the executive vice president of programming and development at Freeform, Disney-ABC’s young adult channel, said prior to the screening. Freeform, which is behind “Pretty Little Liars,” is obviously hoping that the show will hit it big with the young female audience that makes up its core demographic. And feminism plays well these days.
“We talked about how we want the show to feel really modern and relevant in this particular time, which is not something we were anticipating when we sold the show a year ago,” Coles noted. “But now it has an overlay of political drama, which I think younger viewers will be excited by.”
The pilot centers around magazine staples such as pitch meetings, promotions, magazine parties and relationships — with updates such as social media, Snapchats that feature Elizabeth Warren and a lesbian Muslim photographer who is ambivalent about letting her work be featured by the Cosmo stand-in Scarlet. References to feminism and female writers — both explicit and not — are sprinkled liberally throughout. The building that houses the magazine is called Steinem Tower. (“Gloria Steinem is a friend, and obviously she’s an icon,” Coles said.)
At the screening, Coles’ rose gold, patterned waistcoat matched the pink rose frosting on the Magnolia cupcakes, which were handed out as a snack to the mostly female audience. The cupcakes, made famous by “Sex and the City,” were not the only nod to the show.
“Obviously we are going to get the ‘Sex and the City’ comparisons,” writer and executive producer Sarah Watson said during a Q&A following the screening. “But I think this show exists because of ‘Sex and the City.’”
At the after party, one attendee noted that perhaps a more apt comparison is “The Carrie Diaries” — but he seemed to mean it as a compliment.