It was my cousin’s idea really: She was the one who suggested that I get into watching the ABC show Scandal, so I did.
I went on Netflix and began watching the first two seasons in preparation for the upcoming season. I’m the type of person that has to see the character development from start to finish. I have to know the backstory, so I spent days watching the show in sequence just to get a feel for it.
I was intrigued and happily surprised by the great drama and dialogue. I was also happy to see the show’s creator was Shonda Rimes. Yay Hollywood.
First, there was a strong, female lead in a role that showed her beauty, as well as her strength, poise, and intellect.
Second, it was a woman of color, and I have to tell you that I was incredibly proud of that fact. Growing up, there were so very few people that looked like me on television. (Okay, Kerry Washington looks a lot better than I do, but that’s not my point.) Sure, I enjoyed the Cosby Show and Family Matters, but those were comedies. Hollywood just wasn’t ready to take the chance on establishing a show where the main character is a black woman – and a smart one at that.
We have always been supporting characters, sometimes portrayed as lovers of the main character. We were two-dimensional plot fillers with little dialogue. Rarely was the depiction of a capable woman of color. We had attitude, but no depth. We were stereotypes.
Now, there is a show on television that appeared to focus on a woman that was capable of being more than someone’s “arm candy.”
As black women, we had finally and successfully gone from playing whore to playing heroine.
So it gives me great displeasure to state that I’ve grown increasingly concerned with Season 3 of Scandal. The show is still good. Don’t get me wrong. The acting is great. The writing is well developed and complex. The storyline, however, is making me cringe at what they are doing to my favorite female lead.
In Season 3, Olivia Pope has gone from intelligent, strong and formidable to naive, weak and gullible all because of her love for a man she can never have. This may possibly be realistic, but it is disappointing as far as the character development is concerned.
Let me first start by saying that while I like Kerry Washington’s compelling portrayal of Olivia Pope, I’m concerned about the fact that the “love of her life” is a married man who appears to be wrong for her in so many ways.
Fitzgerald Grant is a powerful man, but he is only powerful because of what others have made him: governor and president. He is not powerful in his own right. His advisors push him in one direction or another and when he does finally try to take charge, he ends up drinking himself into oblivion and antagonizing those around him. He is indecisive and must rely on others to give him what he thinks he wants. He is his father’s son, that’s for sure.
Yes, the house in Vermont was a romantic gesture, but he is not wiling to pull the plug on his marriage in order to make himself happy; and he’s not doing this for the kids. He’s not doing this for loyalty to his wife. He’s doing it to keep his job. That, to me, is the epitome of selfishness.
I’m trying to fathom the reasons she is in love with this man and I’m still having difficulty finding them. He is not genuinely kind to anyone. He is a lousy father, much like his own but less overbearing. He is an intellectual, but he wields it with incompetence. He’s not good husband material in any way, shape, form or fashion. He has no concept of romantic loyalty.
Or humility and decency: this is the same person that fired her father from his job after holding the man hostage in a basement, chained to a chair. Oh, and he also spent that time describing how Olivia “tasted” and how “talented” she was in bed.
Are you kidding me? Don’t say that to her parent and have the audacity to declare your love for her in the next breath.
He has killed a judge in cold blood to protect the lie of his presidency. He flaunts his mistress in front of his wife, you know, the woman that gave birth to his children. He openly threatened his wife with political ruin by publicly calling her a racist if she did not play along with his goal of finding a way for the country to accept his mistress as his eventual First Lady.
The only respect I have for him is that he served in the military and fought for his country, regardless of the personal moral cost… I do believe his character wants to do what is best for the country, and I find that noble. I just don’t like the idea of Olivia falling for the 20 % of the time when he’s actually worthwhile.
What is he the other 80% of the time?
He is first and foremost an adulterer. He is a father that has no real relationship with his children. He has no problem being cruel and cheating on the mother of those children. He has murdered a federal judge to hide his own indiscretions and retain his job. He has publicly lied about his exploits and has demonized an innocent staffer by naming her as his mistress and subjecting her to public humiliation, while the highest federal authorities in the country protect his true mistress.
Despite Liv and Fitz’s longing glances and hopeful references to the (amazing I’ll admit it) house in Vermont. Despite their declarations of “I Love You,” she is still his mistress. She is still not his chosen one for the entire world to see.
It’s not that he’s all that attractive – he doesn’t smolder or ooze sex appeal like one would think. He doesn’t present as particularly kind or altruistic. He doesn’t show himself to be a hopeless romantic, but rather a hapless drunk.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not asking for the romantic hero of the show to be perfect, but he should at least be able to cultivate and grow his own set of balls.
The challenge for the show’s writers is that fans are so invested in this relationship, that they, like Olivia, look past everything else. I did for a while, but I have always felt badly for Mellie. Who can blame her for being bitter? Women are not born that way. They are molded and shaped that way by living a life that is not picture perfect and trying to find some semblance of happiness while wading through all of that heartache.
I suppose I had it with Fitz when he told Olivia to “Shut up” two episodes ago. I beg your pardon: If I am making a valid point and you allegedly love me, don’t you dare say “Shut up,” to me. I was surprised that she didn’t let him have it right then and there. After all, Olivia he had no problem giving a quick, but effective verbal slap in the face to Edison, who suggested that, well, she was sleeping with the President (which, by the way, was true.)
I continue root for the “formidable Olivia Pope.” Not the relationship, but her. Art doesn’t just imitate life. Sometimes life imitates art by making some behavior, while questionable, commonly acceptable. I want to make sure that the little girls of this up and coming generation to have a positive character to look up to and hopefully emulate. It’s a Scandal if the producers let this opportunity slip by.