“I want to be proud of who I’m sleeping with.” It’s a sentence that would usually be a simple sentiment — a matter of fact. But in the Bold Type’s season 5 premiere (the Freeform’s series final such opener and the first of six episodes) it’s a wallop of a breakup line, served up by Aisha Dee’s heroine, Kat Edison, to her controversial love interest Eva Rhodes (Alex Paxton-Beesley, an “absolute fucking angel” to quote Dee). Kat is an outspoken Black woman who is passionate about “dismantling the system and mechanisms of white supremacy,” as Dee told Refinery29 over the phone the day before the premiere, “Trust Fall.” Eva is a white Republican heiress who supports conversion “therapy” and, as we learn in the Wednesday night’s new episode, rails against universal healthcare.
After a year of fandom tumult over Kat and Eva’s uncharacteristic burgeoning relationship — which developed into a sexual one during 2020’s season 4 finale, "Not Far from the Tree” — their love story is officially over. It’s a development that Dee says was brought about by viewer chatter — and her own Kat-like decision to speak out.
In mid-July 2020, Dee published a pages-long Instagram letter captioned “For us,” with a heart emoji. In the post, Dee, a biracial Australian actor, thanked The Bold Type for “blessing” her with the role of a central protagonist like Kat and the life she has created through the series. She also shared her frustrations with The Bold Type’s flagging diversity behind the scenes and the “heartbreaking” choice to make Kat’s narrative a “redemption story” for someone “complicit” like Ava.
“This is no bullshit: I value the fans of the show so much,” Dee began over the phone this week, explaining what inspired her post. “Especially the community of queer people who watch the show and have found a safe space in the show. I just felt like things were going in the direction where the space didn’t feel as safe anymore.”
While Dee knew decisions about Kat’s arc were made above her, she still felt “responsible” for righting the ship. So she sent the letter to the producers, writers, and management at Freeform and The Bold Types’s studio (she only decided to share the letter on Instagram afterwards in an effort to reach out to fans). “I remember being on that conference call with the studio and network and my palms were sweaty. I was having a little mini panic attack,” she remembered. “I was like, ‘Who do I think I am?’ As scary as it was, I’m really glad that it happened … Hopefully, eventually, these messy conversations will lead to some real actionable change.”
Although Dee noted that “an Instagram post and a conference call” can’t rework an entire TV system built on oppression, her Instagram post and subsequent conference calls did change The Bold Type. Kat and Eva’s speedy premiere episode breakup “was not the plan, originally,” she confirmed.
“What was really beautiful about it was that every conversation we were talking about ways that we could fix it,” Dee said. “It’s really hard to completely reverse something in six episodes, but I know for a fact that everyone really cares a lot.”
In an effort to start the process of “fixing” Kat’s storyline, Freeform aired an edited version of the season 4 finale, where Kat tells Eva their relationship might be “too complicated” (rather than mutually “risky” as an initial cut reportedly said). In the season 5 premiere, Kat maintains her distance from Eva, going so far as to hide out in a supply closet until she knows what exactly to say to her ex. This scene feels analogous to The Bold Type itself mulling over its Eva decision. As Dee said, “Art imitates life. And life imitates art … I think the show is such a perfect example of that.”
By the end of the chapter, much like the real world production process, Kat makes a concrete decision about her love life. In Eva’s last appearance in “Trust Fall,” Kat says the “forbidden fruit” appeal of Eva is no longer so tantalizing. “After we slept together, I didn’t like myself,” Kat says. “The things that you work to protect? Those things hurt people like me. As much as I tried to convince myself that maybe it doesn’t matter, it actually matters a lot.” Kat doesn’t expect — or want — Eva to defend all of her harmful beliefs, and Kat can no longer stand by her as she harbours them. She wants to be proud of who she’s sleeping with.
Dee found the powerful monologue “on the page” after a decision to trust the people in charge of the series for the good of “her heart and her my soul” and “mental health” (remember, Bold Type season 5 shot during the pandemic). “I’ve said my piece and I’ve expressed myself,” she said of her mindset at the time after years of “losing sleep” over whether she should speak up about her own perspective. At most Dee may have improvised a bit of the scene, but she hadn’t seen the final cut of the premiere yet — “I don’t know what take they used!” she admitted.
“I do remember on the day [of filming], it felt really profound to have that effect on the show,” she recalled, citing scene partner Alex Paxton-Beesley’s support and talent as a rock during production. “Given the way that Kat is, she has such strong opinions and strong feelings — as she should. And it didn’t make sense [for her to be with Eva]. But since we went down that road, it was important to finish it.”
Now, the episode is out in the world. For Dee, that means it belongs to the viewers more than anyone else. “ I hope people find the same comfort in the show that it feels like they always have,” Dee offered. “I hope they feel really seen.”