In Olivia Pope’s world, there is no government shut down and her personal life has been exposed in a big, big way.
Since my friend Jaime is just catching up on Season One of “Scandal” via NetFlix this blog won’t contain many spoilers. Instead, I’m jumping into the fray with two issues that have been making the rounds on Facebook and on blogs since the show debuted.
As one male friend put it: Why is the show so popular among women? And more bluntly: Why are we so crazy about Olivia? After all, she is having an affair with a married man, a behavior most of us deplore.
Here’s my theory. We don’t see women, especially black women, often enough in lead roles like Kerry Washington’s. She’s beautiful, she’s a boss and her personal life mirrors some of ours: her taste in men is terrible. She has a major weak spot — for the President of the United States no less. At least she is cheating up, said one of my friends.
When Olivia walks into the Oval in that bad-to-the bone white coat she sports, we know she’s about to go hard on somebody. And we know she’ll be ever so soft when the scene ends because she is crazy in love with Fitz.
We love Olivia for the same reason we love characters like Tony Soprano in “The Sopranos;” and Stringer Bell and Avon Barksdale in “The Wire.” They are extremely likable people if you overlook the fact that they have affairs, run drug cartels and murder people. And there’s this: they are fictional characters in a TV series. Try producing a TV show without these elements and see how long it takes for the show to be cancelled. Remember Boris Kodjoe’s show, “Undercovers?” There wasn’t enough action and tension to keep that show on the air.
Now if Kerry Washington were having an affair with the real-life president, she would get no love from us. Why? Because we love what the Obamas show us every day: a strong, black family that seems very real.
We know Shonda Rhimes, the creator of “Scandal,” is black, brilliant and holds a unique place in Hollywood. I’ve been a fan of Rhimes’ shows for years. “Grey’s Anatomy” has strong black characters in major roles that have nothing to do with race. “Private Practice” had two black doctors, played by Taye Diggs and Audra McDonald, who were tops in their fields and happened to be married to each other, for a while at least. Shonda’s shows contain all sorts of twists and turns.
Nobody saw the ending of the “Scandal” season finale coming. And we can’t wait to see what will happen this season. One juicy rumor I heard over the summer is that Harrison (played by Columbus Short) may end up being Olivia’s blood brother. That may explain something I’ve always wondered about. If you’re working every day with a single and fabulous brother like Harrison, why do you need to worry about taking Mellie’s man? The reason of course is simple, that’s way too predictable in Shonda’s world.