The fascinating true story behind The Bold Type

Meet the real-life inspirations behind the show's iconic female characters.
Loading the player...

They say the best art imitates real life – and that’s exactly what you get with the amazing cult television series The Bold Type.

If you’re not familiar with the super addictive comedy-drama, allow us fill you in.

Inspired by the life of former US Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Joanna Coles and the hundreds of young women she mentored during her reign running the biggest-selling magazine in the world, The Bold Type follows three 20-something New York City women who work for Scarlet, a hugely successful women’s magazine.

Jane, Kat and Sutton experience all the highs and lows typical of women their age, as they find their feet in the workplace and manage office politics, relationship dramas and identity crises.

If their dilemmas feel just a little too accurate, that’s because the entire show is based on real-life anecdotes experienced by Coles and her employees during her time as editor-in-chief.

Now the chief content officer at Hearst Magazines, the publishing house behind iconic mags such as Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Woman’s Day, Coles also serves as The Bold Type‘s executive producer.

READ NEXT: Everything you need to know about Season 3 of The Bold Type

Kate, Sutton and Jane in Scarlet’s infamous fashion cupboard. (Image: Supplied)

Part of her role is to feed juicy snippets from her time at Cosmo to the show’s writers and producers, so each episode is grounded in reality.

Plus, the show’s creator Sarah Watson embedded herself in the Cosmo office for a day, following Coles around and interviewing about 25 staffers, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

So just how much of the crazy stuff that happens on The Bold Type actually occurred in real life?

We’ll let Joanna explain …

“In the second episode, someone gets one of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop Yoni stones stuck in an unfortunate place, and that was based on someone in the office,” she told Business Insider’s Sucess! How I Did It podcast.

“It was based on someone who got a sponge stuck and couldn’t get it out, and she was trying a sponge for a story and came in mortified the next morning and various people disappeared into a bathroom stall to help her and, well, it emerges as an anecdote in the show.”

Then there’s this little anecdote: “There’s a wonderful episode where Jane is one of the young ambitious writers and she gets sued, and when a lawyer opens her notebook it’s got wine stains all over it. That very story happened to a friend of mine who was sued and, when the lawyer went to look at her notes, it was full of doodles and coffee stains. Actually we changed it to wine stains, but that was very much based on a real story.”


The trio work at Scarlet on social media, fashion and writing, respectively. (Image: Supplied)

Scarlet’s editor-in-chief, the formidable Jacqueline Carlyle, is painted as a strong, stylish woman who is as empathetic as she is tough.

Scarlet staffers both fear and worship Jacqueline, who is worlds apart from the ice queen editor-in-chief character made famous by Meryl Streep’s depiction of Vogue editor Anna Wintour in The Devil Wears Prada.

Played by the gorgeous Melora Hardin, Jacqueline is a direct model of Coles.

They have a similar haircut – a sleek blonde bob – a love of expensive powersuits and most importantly, know how to straddle the line between hard-ass boss and compassionate mentor.

Swipe to see just how similar Jacqueline and Joanna really look!

What’s more, some of Coles’ quirky habits, like the treadmill she has installed in her office, are included as part of Jacqueline’s character – who of course also has a treadmill desk.

Watch Joanna Coles walking on her treadmill desk below. Scroll down to keep reading.

The very chic Jacqueline. (Image: Supplied)

When art imitates life! Joanna Coles and Melora Hardin on the red carpet together. (Image: Getty)

One of the thing the The Bold Type is often praised for, is the way it accurately depicts female friendships.

Kate, Jane and Sutton rarely compete with each other and their friendships are based around loving and supporting one another, rather than stabbing each other in the back.

It’s refreshing to see women portrayed in such a positive light on TV.

Coles says that’s because the show is a direct representation of what her own female friendships are like.

“It’s based on 30 years of reminiscences and talking to my friends,” she told Bustle.

“My best friends are the friends I met in my early 20s, when we were all going through stuff together. There was a little group of us and we all rose and fell at different times, and we also thwarted each other and were sometimes envious of each other, but we still became and stayed friends.

“So it’s really exploring that, the sort of complicated nature of female friendships in a workplace… and lots of alcohol.”

WATCH BELOW: Joanna Coles and Melora Hardin talk The Bold Type. Story continues after video.

Loading the player...

Showrunner Sarah Watson says she was sick of seeing fake female friendships on TV, so she decided to create a show that reflected the types of relationship dynamics she knew to be true.

“That was hugely important to me. On a scale of one to 10, that was an 11, because I wanted to see the kind of female friendships that I have,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.

“I wanted to see the kind of female bosses that I have been lucky to have. In my experience, women do help each other, at least the ones in my life.

“I feel like that’s not what we often portray. I feel like this is the time that we need to see those figures and those role models on TV. Showing the positivity of female friendships was incredibly important to me.”

And that’s why we love this show so much!

Season 3 of The Bold Type is now available to watch on Stan.

Meghann Fahy, Katie Stevens and Aisha Dee are re-defining female friendships on The Bold Type. (Image: Getty)

Related stories