Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Late to the Party: ABC's Scandal

[Possible mild spoilers.]

I'm not sure how I missed Scandal, but oh how I have made up for lost time! I've seen some people I follow on Twitter live tweeting the show, but I never actually thought, "Hey you should watch that." Plus, I kind of forget ABC exists.

Anyway, at the suggestion of a friend, I started the show last weekend. And thanks to my Hulu Plus subscription and sheer determination, I got all caught up to real time and I'm ready to watch  the newest episode on Thursday.

In short, I'm hooked.

I'll be honest. The show isn't my usual fare. I'm a comedy kind of gal (think Parks & Rec, Community, ya know, the stuff I blog about.) But when I do make a foray into TV drama territory  I'm much more of a Breaking Bad/Walking Dead, Parenthood/Friday Night Lights gal than Law and Order or Grey's Anatomy. Scandal has the tone and feel of the latter, coming from the same creator as Grey's (Shonda Rimes) but the web of complex political cover ups, crisis management, and media control is incredibly interesting to me. I'm also quite pulled in by the more human elements of the show, namely the on-going relationship between the lead character, Olivia Pope [Kerry Washington] and the married president.

But beyond being simply interesting, Scandal has some pretty important feminist significance. As The Feminist Spectator wrote, "Kerry Washington stars in the first series to feature an African American woman in the leading role since 1974, a fact of network history that seems both outrageous and significant. The lie that America is 'post-race' has long been put to rest, but that Scandal’s demographics make history in 2012 seems hard to believe." The Feminist Critic adds, "Scandal is also the first dramatic network television series written and produced by an African-American woman for an African-American woman in the lead role."

I really wish that these facts about Scandal were unremarkable--that we would be operating in a world where women of color TV leads and creators were as common as days that end in Y, but the reality is that this does set Scandal apart.

The character of Olivia Pope is also really remarkable to me. She's a woman who is strong, confident, ethical, and in charge. But while she's marching around Washington running the behind-the-scenes show, she's also a complex, imperfect, woman who shows both incredible resilience and authentic vulnerability. We see Olivia not striking fear into the hearts of her political adversaries and managing crises, but also bearing her heart and letting herself feel. (That's something they got better with as the series has gone on. At first, we wonder if we'll ever see her let her guard down; we do.)

I'd like to join The Feminist Spectator in hoping that Scandal continues to occupy a place on the airwaves. And I couldn't say it better than her:
Let’s hope spectators will be willing to put themselves into Olivia Pope’s (gorgeous) shoes. She’s a tough woman navigating a brutal world, and doing so with intensity, grace, and a ramrod straight spine that makes her irresistible to watch, especially in a medium that allows so few women to be as complex, powerful, and charismatic. And thank goodness an actor as ethical, aware, and committed to social change as Kerry Washington is bringing Olivia to our hearts.

1 comment:

  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE Scandal! It's my fave show!! Glad you are enjoying it too! :)


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