This post contains spoilers for all five seasons of The Bold Type! Stop reading now if you don’t want to be spoilered.
Like many fans of Freeform’s The Bold Type, which just finished its fifth and final season, I was rooting for a happy outcome for Sutton Brady-Hunter and Richard Hunter (known collectively by the fandom as “Suttard.”) They’re the best straight couple on the show by far, from their Bluetooth vibrator sex date to their incredible Paris reunion in the season 2 finale.
At the end of season 4, the newly married couple have a blow-out argument when Sutton realises she doesn’t want to have children, causing Richard – who longs to be a dad – to leave her and then (at the beginning of season 5) begin divorce proceedings.
Over the course of the final season, Sutton destroys her wedding dress, throws a “divorce party,” starts therapy, and quits drinking in an attempt to get over Richard. Then they meet up to swap divorce papers, predictably fall into bed with each other, and Richard realises how much he loves her and that he doesn’t want a life without her, even if it means giving up his dream of having children.
So far, so romantic? But…
No two people will ever be perfectly aligned on every issue or desire. That’s impossible because we’re all multifaceted, nuanced, and complex creatures. But there are, I believe, a few fundamentals. Things you need to agree on (or at least be genuinely, wholeheartedly happy to compromise on) in order to have a functional relationship.
Having children is one of those things. (Others might include getting married or not, being monogamous or not, and possibly even political affiliation.)
Some things are just deal breakers. Some things should be deal-breakers. Because in reality, much as we want to believe that love conquers all, it doesn’t. Love doesn’t conquer wanting different things in uncompromisable situations. You can’t have half a child. You can’t be half married. Love, however real and powerful, doesn’t make these incompatibilities go away or create the potential for a compromise where there is none.
Fairytale endings: fantasy vs. reality
I’m glad the writers chose to end The Bold Type the way they did. Ultimately, this show is escapist fantasy – a Sex & the City for millennials with little grounding in the real world. Suttard fans were crushed when the couple split up and were rooting for them to get back together and somehow find a way through their conflicting desires.
The writers gave us what we wanted. Find me a single fan who didn’t let out a collective “awwww” at this moment:
But it really is just fantasy. In reality, fairytale endings like this don’t happen. Or if they do, they cause intense resentment and bigger problems down the line.
I admit that I struggle to relate to Richard, personally. As someone who decided early on that I will be childfree for life, I find it very difficult to imagine wanting to have children more than wanting to be with the person I love. (And my god, these two really do love each other – Meghann Fahy and Sam Page have incredible on-screen chemistry!)
But many people do feel like that, and it’s valid and real. Many people want to be a parent more than anything, even if it means they can’t be with the person they thought was their forever person. And those people can’t just switch that off the way Richard seems to in this too-neat-to-be-real happy ever after.
Happy endings don’t exist
A much younger, more naive version of me thought that I’d find a happy ending someday. When I left my abuser and fell in love with Mr CK, I wondered if I’d found it – if everything would be plain sailing from here.
What I can tell you now, years later, is that no. I hadn’t found a happy ending. Not because this relationship isn’t wonderful. It was then and it is now. But because happy endings of the fairytale kind don’t exist.
Real relationships require constant communication, ongoing compromise, and recalibration as you both grow and change. You can decide to be together, to commit, to go all-in, but that doesn’t take away from the very real work required to make love work long term.
Love is messy, love is nuanced, love is the best thing in the world. But it is not magical. It does not remove all obstacles or effortlessly sweep them aside. And some obstacles are too big to overcome.
So I’ll enjoy the Suttard happy ending for what it is: escapist fantasy wrapping up five seasons of escapist fantasy. But I’m glad it’s not real. Because as much as I want someone to love me for the rest of my life, I would never want them to give up their greatest dream to be with me.
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One thought on “On Suttard, Fundamental Incompatibilities, and Happy Ever After”
Yes yes yes, you’re so good. (Yes, this is a paraphrase of the slogan on Sage’s friends’ sustainable vibrator start-up’s billboard that was declared too ‘profane’ because it promoted female pleasure. Please help, I’m way too invested in this world where writers only work on one story at a time but still seem to be able to afford endless clothes and cabs and coffees.) But seriously, this post is brilliant and I’m so glad you wrote it, because I think it’s so important to talk about how love doesn’t conquer all. Increasingly I don’t think unconditional love exists, and I definitely don’t think that love alone is enough to either sustain or save a relationship. And I’m glad that Suttard got their fairy tale ending, but I hope the other fans watching know just how unrealistic that fantasy is.