ABC’s Scandal is finally returning from a three-week hiatus. The show has one of the most dedicated and diverse fanbases since HBO’s Sex and the City, which ended almost a decade ago. During the network’s break, The Scandalistas, as I like to call them (though they’re not all women), were going through withdrawal—evidenced by social media commentary lamenting the wait and the noticeable “silence” of tweets and Facebook status updates.
Full disclosure: I’ve never seen a full episode of Scandal. I know, I’m totally late to the party on this one. I can’t say I have a “good” reason other than simply not getting around to it. I am also not a huge TV watcher and a show has to be mighty good like the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning, Mad Men for me to sit down to a whole hour every week. I’m a fan of Kerry Washington, so I guess that’s a good enough reason. Exclusion from real and virtual show conversations is a close second.
Until this one.
A colleague whom I’ll refer to as Ms. Majorfan broke it down. When Ms. M. is not working her career as a busy creative management professional, she’s serving as a voice of reason in her friendship circle. The attractive single suburbanite has spent several Thursday evenings hosting Scandal events that ultimately turned into revelatory heart-to-heart sessions on life and love.
“It feels like Olivia is one of my friends and I’m cheering for her to get it right.”
By ‘getting it right,’ this devotee wants America’s favorite crisis manager to as Ms. M. says, “overcome the bad habit that she has,” an addiction to toxic relationships. Amidst the tales of danger and espionage, the juiciest buzz centers around Pope’s affair with President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn). While mainstream media appears to have approached the racial dynamic rather delicately, blogs and Facebook posts from African Americans have gone in. The black woman-white man extramarital dalliance has seen Washington’s character labeled everything from “whore” and “bed wench” to the “new Sally Hemings,” with equally harsh words for devoted, particularly black women viewers.
A post by TheRoot.com went as far to ask if black women are “hypocrites” for loving the “home-wrecking heroine.”
No matter the intensity of Olivia and Fitz’s flame, Scandal is hardly a primer on interracial romantic exploration.
“They’re all caught up in iniquity; that’s all I talk about,” says Ms. M.
It is very easy to dislike a philandering president and his weapons of mass distraction to throw Olivia off her already troubled course. The lack of clear-cut heroes and villains makes all the key players loved or hated depending on the scene. Viewers love an intricately plotted series about fiery human emotions and the way lustful passion, no matter how virulent the circumstances, will drive poor souls to desperate acts.
Until now, no one ever told me exactly why they were so intrigued. Some, though well-meaning, assumed that since it’s another top-rated Shonda Rhimes creation, I should just get it.
For Ms. Majorfan and her friends, Scandal strikes chords of empathy and sympathy for Pope, her supporting characters, and their real-life loved ones caught in a bad romance.
“They like it and don’t know why they like it. It’s just art imitating life.”
A messy life, but a life lived by people who without the high-level politics are something like us, quietly mitigating scandals of their very own.