Scandal Is Scan-D-Licious!

For all of those readers already familiar with SCANDAL, the latest series by Shonda Rhimes, this is your Season One recap. For all of those viewers new to the series starring Kerry Washington as a DC-based Crisis Manager, here’s your chance to catch up! This is a loose recap….

FYI, the entire first season may be viewed in its entirety (7 episodes) on Netflix.

 

Sweet Baby

Dirty Little Secrets

Hell Hath No Fury

Enemy of the State

Crash and Burn

The Trial

Grant For the People

The series premiere season is fresh, witty, fast-paced (hold onto your lunch scenes), sharp and totally engrossing. I used to have stomach flips watching the episodes and figured there’s no way such a pace would be maintained for a 22-episode season. It debuted with seven episodes [that could easily have been doubled] as a late-season replacement this Spring and scored high ratings.  It sure is fun!

Kerry Washington plays a fictionalized version of real-life D.C. based cape-wearer Judy Smith, who more or less saves higher-profile folks from similar scandals to the plots featured on the show.  She also serves as an Executive Producer.

Olivia Pope Is Not… Superwoman

While her character is well-groomed, moderate in tone and compact and she wields a lot of power, she does not don a cape. She has a crack team of lawyers and investigators who do their jobs extremely well. She’s confident, brash and makes surgical strikes.  The show did a great job of filling in the back-story of the series regulars while weaving it into the plot of one of the episodes.

While they are referred to as Gladiators in Suits and her team is in fact Ride Or Die for Olivia, no one is so self-sacrificing to the point of no return. The choice to work a high-octane career where certain enemies could destroy your life does takes a toll. The show doesn’t gloss over that, but choice and consequence is a part of life! She has to make sacrifices. More of which is revealed as the season progresses.

Olivia Pope Is Not… Sally Hemmings

  

The scandal isn’t only about Pope & Associates’ client list! Olivia used to work for the White House. For a Republican President. Whom she almost single-handedly got elected. Who knew when they first met that he was in love with her [and was impolite to cover his realization]. Who was not at all hesitant to tell her and show her. Which would’ve been great..except…. he’s now the President of the United States and married!!

I think Olivia’s relationship obstacles with Fitz is what makes the show so arresting. All I have to say is watch the reveal and THAT kiss!! Phew lawdy!!! Flawed by weakness is what makes her human. The show was executed well enough to bring me back for next season!

I mention Hemmings because some daft writer at a black-oriented film site had a major issue with the relationship. Not on moral grounds, but because of race. Big surprise! This is not 1712 and women have more choices. There’s a reason why Fitzgerald Grant and Olivia Pope are not and (ultimately may never be) together. Race is the not even a factor.

She is a ‘home-wrecking hussy’ – or not!

Not according to Fitz. She’s not a side-piece, jump-off or mistress. Rhimes has taken pains to the point of overkill to explain and justify the relationship, show their love for each other and what’s at stake. Which is why Olivia quit working for him after he won the election.  He’s the one displaying his emotional attachment. She has to be the one to keep him at arm’s length before he does something foolish and the public gets wind of their non-professional activities.

Wives do have rights…. and responsibilities

Rhimes made it a point to portray First Lady Mellie Grant as the ‘devil’ so Livvie can wear a (somewhat tarnished) halo. Yet, she’s still a sympathetic character. She was a wealthy woman who gave up her career to help fund and support her husband’s political ambitions. It was always a ‘career’ marriage. For those who find it hard to believe, may I present to you the real-life examples of Charles and Diana and Charles and Camilla!  If Liv & Fitz just have to be together, they can wait another six years (since he’s only 2 years into his 1st term). Of course, Olivia can find someone else and finally move on. She should not put her life on hold. As for Fitz and Mellie, duty marriages are difficult to maintain.

I have to say though, that the level of cut-throaty-ness gave me some pause. Apparently Fitz thought he’d managed to keep his feelings for Olivia under wraps. Yet, it’s revealed that not only did Mellie know, but she didn’t seem to care as long as her position as First Lady wasn’t in jeopardy. What does it say about progress when so many women subjugate themselves to disloyal men to acquire power through them? I’m thinking about Jenny Sanford…and yes, Hillary Clinton, but there are countless other women who do it and get far less.

When the President is embroiled in a sex scandal with an intern who winds up dead, then all hell breaks loose. Fitz and Liv had managed to keep their relationship history a secret even from his National Security Advisor, who is none-to-pleased when he finds out.

One of the best scenes evah was between Liv and Mellie — and Fitz when the wife tells the cheating husband, she will have to take center stage in their bed again because having a baby is the best publicity for their tarnished marriage. More or less. The exchange between the women was the Queen telling the Courtesan she was slacking on the job. When FLOTUS Mellie chastizes Olivia for leaving Fitz vulnerable and complains bitterly that she’ll have to step in, providing sex & companionship to her husband my jaw hit the floor. Then I laughed because it was way over the top! It was Lady Macbeth-level.

Olivia had physically extricated herself from Fitz, but not emotionally. It’s the only time we see her this vulnerable. Fitz had been lonely and his excuse was to boink the intern? Who was a plant…but I won’t reveal the details of that plot.  How did Fitz get to be this clueless to think that his WIFE  wouldn’t know something was amiss?! Men!!!

Maslow’s hierarchy

  • Super successful women exude masculine energy dominant in creating their professional lives, but have an extremely difficult time turning it off after-hours.
  • Fitz is Olivia’s Kryptonite.

Fitz offered to resign so he could quietly divorce Mellie to be with Olivia, but he’s the PRESIDENT for goodness sake! He’s written as a Moderate Republican who wants to help people – as opposed to a power-hungry religious nut, so it was a moment of weakness. The closing scene has him taking the leadership role he’s meant to.

This is why I love shows like Damages (which just ended it’s six-year run) and of course The Good Wife. Accomplished yet flawed women with complicated personal lives makes for great tv.

Scandal and Damages are probably more closely related for the power being wielded, but Scandal is far more ethical. Olivia hasn’t tried to kill any of her assistants!

Olivia Pope is a WOMAN and Rhimes Gives New Meaning For “ONE MINUTE”

Rhimes  makes sure that Livvie is a woman first and black second. Season one was very compact, but we didn’t see any black friends, black family and no connection to “rescuing” the black community. But Norm Lewis will be her love interest at some point during Season Two.

Why does Olivia have to be ‘black’ instead of a woman who is black?  She has layers.  In a piece of dialog with a White House Gate security guard, he notes how she commands respect. She asked about his family. She’s comfortable with power and authority but doesn’t lord it over people.

So, why would she not be desired by the most powerful man in the world? We can learn a whole lot more from her than if she were slumming it with Ray Ray, Pookie, or that security guard she was speaking with in the season finale?

Certain blacks made it a point in criticizing the show for not portraying Olivia Pope as mammy, mule, asexual, or  save the community nonsense.

Tony Goldwyn is the male lead. Kerry Washington is the female lead. Get used to it! They have amazing onscreen chemistry! Olivia needs to date someone else but I hope Rhimes doesn’t shy away from the interracial aspects by forcing “Black Love” on the viewers.  We should have the opportunity to learn more about her personal life by having her sibling, or cousin or parent come for a visit, but they have to relate it to the storyline.

The perception that men like Fitzgerald Grant have about her, and how she relates to men says a lot about the character. That’s why they’re so attracted to Liv. Even her ‘sparring partner’, the District Attorney.  She’s  not controlling like Mellie. She doesn’t wear the pants in the relationship like Mellie. There’s a balance between her and Fitz. She’s the brains and he’s the muscle and they do compliment each other well. The timing is just off.

Finally, Liv is fiercely loyal to other women as well. Thank goodness. We see that with her associates and going into Season Two how she goes to bat for  Quinn.

Hasn’t anyone ever wondered about Condi and Shrub?

P.S. **I miss Steven!

Season Two:

The new season teases us with a Quinn back-story without telling us anything!

SO annoying…but so mysterious…just like a lady should be….I’ll be watching!

White Hats Off

11 Replies to “Scandal Is Scan-D-Licious!”

  1. Faith, your review makes me want to watch it even more!! This show sounds amazing. I have only been able to watch clips via youtube. I have to echo what itsmeak said, I do hope Shonda gets the green light to make this show available overseas.

  2. Hi Faith how are you doing? Fine hopefully. I don’t know if they’ll ever bring Scandal to UK audiences. Maybe it’ll eventually be on cable but I don’t have cable.

  3. (Continued)
    You are correct in your comparison of Mellie and the real life Jenny Sanford/Hillary Clinton. Although I don't believe that "love" should be the only basis of a marriage (because it's a fleeting/changeable emotion) there has to be some attraction to keep the couple bonded. These fictional and real wives' situations show that the "devil" will get his pound of flesh and Western women in duty marriages are playing a dangerous game. Responsibilities might or might not hold a marriage together over the long term. It truly depends on the individuals and their customs. Family responsibilities and support help make many arranged marriages successful in Middle Eastern/South Asian cultures. However, most Westerners are not going to be bound by their familial duties.

    Fitz and Liv are surrounded by treacherous forces (e.g., Fitz's chief of staff) which only adds to the drama. I agree that Shonda Rhimes is going to keep them apart (a la Romeo & Juliet) and have them gaze longingly across the room at one another. It's a story as old as time . . .

    1. I believe we'll get the payoff when the series ends. But my last fave tv couple from the former USA series La Femme Nikita had to wait years to be together as well while Nikita ran Section.

  4. You outdid yourself with this recap! You've written a wonderful analysis of Scandal's nuances. I have an issue with adultery so I can't condone Fitz and Liv's behavior. I know Fitz is the president but if he loves Liv like he says he does then he should resign his office. I know that sounds simplistic but if King Edward VIII could give up the British throne for the love of his life, Wallis Simpson, then Fitz could do the same. Both Fitz and Liv are in angst over their situation and are unhappy & unfulfilled.

  5. Thanks for the Scandal recap!! I'm waiting on your critique of episode 1 of Season 3 of the Good Wife.

    Wondered about Condi & Scrub? Well, at a dinner party while Rice was National Security Advisor, she referred to President George W. Bush as "my husband" before abruptly correcting herself.

  6. Great recap. The casting is perfection and I wish I could work for Olivia Pope! I have half a mind to start hosting Thursday night 'Scandal' parties 🙂

    1. Yes, it’s a cool show. I really still want Fitz & Liv to be together but that’s going to be the angst that keeps us coming back for more.

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