The Trouble With “Scandal”

The Trouble With "Scandal"

Like many, I eagerly anticipated the premiere of the show Scandal. A beautiful, black woman who is a power player in D.C., it had me chomping at the bit. With all of the strong television shows for women (Homeland on Showtime, The Good Wife on CBS – although, I don’t know why the woman of color on that show has to bed everything with legs), I was hopeful. There has been no shortage of shows where white women get to dangle their brilliance, their prowess, their wardrobe. So, I was like a child on Christmas Eve. Not since 1974 has a TV drama had a black female lead character. And, this is a far cry from Get Christie Love. Certainly, we are well beyond the days of, “You’re under arrest, Sugah!” Or, are we?

Before you go sucking your teeth, rolling your eyes and screaming to the heavens, “why can’t black people leave “successful” black folks alone?“, hear me out. I think there is an opportunity here to encourage the writers of the show to be bold and courageous. I am rooting for the show to succeed, but, the creators have to be fearless and let Olivia Pope dominate.

The first show left me a bit dizzy. I tend to tune out when the dialogue is coming at you like rapid fire in an inner city war zone. But, I understand, in the first episode, there was a lot of exposition to cover. I forgave it. I checked in with my Actor sisters to hear their thoughts. They weren’t so taken with Kerry Washington, but, I was eager to see her chops. And she is captivating. The show is designed to showcase her beauty. That is achieved without question. Considering we’ve spent the majority of the time studying every crevice of Kerry Washington’s face, we can all agree that she has a face sculpted by the gods.

And the second episode, when Olivia Pope (KW) is on the park bench “schooling” Amanda Tanner, KW showed her chops. She descended on Tanner like a drone missile. I haven’t yelled at the TV like that, since Michael Jordan obliterated the basketball court. In that moment, Olivia Pope established her skill set, her power, her uncompromising commitment to her work, her character, her grace under fire and it was stunning! Stunning! There was no finger waving, no back and forth head motion, no pulling of weaves; it was pure and uncompromising intelligence. She wasn’t anyone’s (basketball) wife, she was in complete possession of herself. And dressed to the nines while doing it!

I was even pleased with the delivery of the twists and turns toward the end of each episode. The fierce leftist politics. Yes, they are. The complex storyline of the black woman in love with the republican president. There was a lot of information being delivered here, and Ms. Shonda Rhimes was not waving any race banner. That made it all the more engaging. Olivia Pope is vulnerable, caring, wise and sharp – these are the black women I know. These characters have reached the upper echelons and are consumed with the things that get us out of bed every morning; love, work and passion.

So, what went wrong?! I was not a fan of Ms. Shonda Rhimes prior to Scandal. However, I am happy for all of her success. I respect her intelligence and (TV) acumen. And not in the way that people praise Tyler Perry. They condemn his work but laud over him because of his achievements. I believe in quality execution. And if it isn’t there, I don’t care how many gazillions of dollars you make, I will not curtsy in your general direction. I don’t simply support because it’s black. It’s got to be well done. Ms. Rhimes is a bit too ‘soap opera-esque’ for my taste. The ‘soap opera’ aesthetic of Grey’s Anatomy leaves me cold. That style undermines the strength of the characters (women, especially) and renders them sheepish.

Having gone through NYU’s graduate film program, one comes out with a very sharp, critical eye. I’m fortunate to do script analysis for private clients. One thing I note with my female clients, is that it’s hard for us to keep a woman character as lead. Usually, the female will partner with a male (either in work or love) and the male will eventually become the lead or takeover the storyline. It is very difficult for women to keep a strong, female character at the center of the story. This seems to be the case here. By the second to last episode, I did not know if ‘the president’ or Olivia Pope was the lead. It’s a very subtle dynamic. ‘The president’ took the lead in their interactions. He asked for ‘the minute’. He showed up at her house. He was making the choices. The lead has to make the choices, otherwise, they become a ‘passive’ character. Olivia Pope, who started off the series fully in charge, had become a doe-eyed mistress. How did we get here?!

By the last episode, Olivia Pope was grabbed on the arm by “the President”, read by the first lady and barely uttered a word. Kerry Washington did what she could with what she was given. But, I didn’t know how much longer KW would be able to pull off the teary-eyed, emoting in lieu of dialogue. There were a few moments in the last episode that were truly troubling. When they were trying to clean up Gideon’s apartment, Olivia Pope grabs the phone and alerts the police. Huck (played by Guillermo Diaz, who wore a ridiculous wig in a previous episode, that would have worked in Get Christie Love) then alerts everyone that the cell phone had not been recovered, undermining Olivia’s decision to call the police. It’s a simple moment that spoke volumes.

In the season finale, “the president” walks in and the “first lady” schools him on how they will proceed. And this came after FLOTUS schooled Olivia Pope. This was particularly demeaning. “The president” enters, we see the first lady and then Olivia Pope quietly stands up and has her head bowed in the corner of the frame. I’m like… what in the hell is this? This woman has gone from fierce control to utter shame. That is the series climax?! I’m sorry, marching around in a nice wardrobe with an overwrought soundtrack and the security guard saying how impressive you are, gives the illusion of power. Olivia Pope was severely underwritten. The show went off the rails, not quite back to the days of Sally Hemings but close. Perhaps, a friend explained, the ratings weren’t great, so the creators put the “white characters” at the center. Not sure. Whatever happened, they have to fix it. Ms. Rhimes has given us great expectations. And we want Olivia Pope to reign supreme.

Some thoughts:

1 – A support system for Olivia Pope outside of her office (a family member, sister, brother, old college roommate… someone that she can commune with beyond the office), open up her world. This will give us a sense of her inner life, what sustains her, what motivates her.

2 – Let Ms. Pope control the interactions with her lovers. Don’t allow her to be a woman of straw that bends in whatever direction her lover needs.

3 – Invite us into her background (childhood, teenage years).

4 – Take her out of the U.S. (always wonderful to see a woman abroad, out of her element, but, in control).

5 – Squash the relationship with the president. It’s done. It’s not that interesting or believable. We will learn much more about her as she attempts relationships with other, less powerful, men.

6 – For me, please do something with the black male “gladiator in a suit” (what happened to that phrase, anyway?). His fast talking, few minutes of screen time has become an annoyance. I know the brother has range, so slow his talk down and give him an interesting storyline. We have experienced everyone’s story but his.

7 – Be fearless. Let Olivia Pope run the show. Don’t let the show run her.

The show is exciting, tantalizing, intriguing but, in need of a stronger lead. Pope can be etched in stone with Kojak, Columbo and Tony Soprano if the creators stop pandering toward what America will accept. Imagine – more Barbara Jordan, less Sally Hemings.

Follow Tanya Steele on Twitter at @digtanya.

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Random White Chick

I saw KW on SNL and was really impressed with her versatility and comedic chops. She's incredibly talented and beautiful to boot!

Which is why it's so disappointing to see her cast in a role where the bulk of the storyline revolves around seducing (white) men. Can't we have ONE show where the lead female character has a life outside of romance/sex? I'm no prude, but come on. I can't even be in the room when the show is on because it makes my stomach turn.

"Power" is not the same as "sexuality". A man's power comes from his personality, achievements, talents, morals and goals; a woman's apparently comes from her ability to seduce a man. This offensive narrative is present everywhere, from music and movies to TV shows like Scandal. There's nothing wrong with celebrating beauty and sex appeal, but don't confuse it with true personal power.

George

Above all K. Washington's character is not a super heroine. She's actually an anti-hero and a human. The idea of Olivia winning everytime makes it harder to relate to her as I do now. This doesn't mean that she is underwritten at all. And yes, Scandal is really soap-opera esque and a very light serie but I think after Breaking bad, Homeland, OINTB and specially House of Cards, this format is actually refreshing.

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Muse

Now that Scandal is making its way back to the airwaves in a few weeks, it's time for the moderators to spray the spam roach spray to kill the last few comments, and make way for fresh new commentary.

Well

O.k. all I get it – we want to stop the whole black girl, sleeps with white man (no more black whore depictions). However, while this story may be a far fetch to what is real – who knows how this story was derived. Typically all fiction comes from a conglomerate of what is or has been real life. Everything black can't be Cliff and Claire Huxtable – truthfully, that was probably more unreal in the Urban black community but two-thumbs go to all positive African American images. Nevertheless, there are all kinds of people in the world and a person has to decide from themselves, their children – who or what they will emulate. An individuals personal life is just that it is personal, if Kerri were a real person and likely is a type of person that does exist – why would we all care who she slept with or didn't? I suppose this is what it would be if Monica Lewinsky were a black girl? In any case, let the show evolve into what it shall be a few episodes in not enough to decide the show is bad. We need a whole season. IJS

2SENSE

1st of all, I LOVE this show. Omigod, I dashed home Thursday nights to watch it like my life depended on it. The 8th week VOID sucked. Shondaville people, y'all are wrong for tantalizing, hooking, addicting, and then dropping your NETWORK TELEVISION fans like that. Y'all ran with only seven episodes of your riveting, naughty-as-the-dickens, ways-to-SCREW-the-US-Presidency kitsch! Surely y'all got a load of that Ken Starr, real life shagfest that made the men & women protecting Clinton's presidency cringe, right? So, y'all had to know you were going to get some fans. But, y'all didn't put your treats on PBS or CW with mini-series. So, WTF!!! I would like MORE per season, please.

Now, I didn't know the last TV drama with a "black female lead" was 1974. If that is true, there hasn't been one in my lifetime. "Scandal" does not have a "black female lead." I mean that hotter-than-an-oil-fire MIND on Quentin Tarantino made "Jackie Brown" for the motion picture screen. That was driven by and all about the title character, like "Grey's Anatomy" or "The Good Wife" is.

"Scandal" is not titled "Olivia Pope." It's probably named "Scandal" for the perpetually jacked up stuff in it. Other characters get way more sex than Pope and with lethal ramifications. Pope seems to stop only at whacking folks to clean up the filthy rich and powerful's messes, unlike other pit-bulls in it. Beyond that, there is the threat of what Republicans do to MARRIED politicians (including their own, real and fictional) BUSTED for having sex with the help.

So, what is "black" these days? Some of my ancestors traversed Africa long enough to concentrate melanin and for their skin pores to FLATTEN and prohibit the escape of life sustaining moisture–the better to protect their internal organs with. Ergo my skin looks caramel and my native hair is of the supercoiled, gift ribbon variety that forcefully extrudes out of those pore "slits"—like after a straight piece of ribbon is yanked between a thumb and the sharp end of a scissor blade.

I can't say I know enough about my centuries of American ancestors to specify myself as half-breed, quadroon, octoroon… Yet, given who I am, I just wonder if there will ever be a time that we are far enough past ante-bellum, trans-atlantic African slavery ECONOMIC fallout on the American psyche for ALL COUCH POTATOES to actually comprehend content of fictional character. In that America, maybe TV dramaS with a beautiful, black, female lead would annually appear on network TV. That public probably won't regard the sophisticated, multi-cultural "Scandal"—with its extraordinarily beautiful, intelligent, black, and female private business OWNER role—as the same thing.

bubby

I stopped watching the show after the 3rd week. I just didn't like how they made her seem weak and sort of like an high class call girl to the President. Shame on S. Rhimes. All this power to bring compelling women of color to the screen but being guided most likely by the hollywood suits. I threw up in my mouth during the scenes with the President. Mr. Rhimes, get your shit together. And stop thinking like a white man. People need to show people of color with some dignity

smile

The last episode did an excellent job of setting up the audience to really want to watch the next season. This was the overall goal of that episode. I believe the show has excellent ratings; which is why it was picked up again. Also, the romance between the president and Olivia is not meant to be about race. I believe that Miss Rhimes is trying to reach a global audience and that the romance has a lot to do with the success of the show and its ability to pull in more viewers. If you want to bring up race; there are undoubtedly many professional black women who have potential romances with white powerful men; partially because of the lack of black men in that position. The show is excellent and the lead is clearly Kerry Washington during every episode. Shonda Rhimes is moving mountains for many actresses with the creation of this role and she has done an excellent job.

Kid chaos

Sad many black women want that white man to take them away.You must think to yourself what kind of white man wants a black woman?

Sandra2

One thing I forgot to mention in my post below about the Olivia/Mellie scene is that sometimes as an actor, you have to stand back and let your partner step to the forefront. It's not about you trying to compete for attention but rather letting the other actor who has some dynamite lines shine in a way that he or she may not always have the chance to do. Kerry Washington is without a doubt the star of Scandal and in less skilled hands the scene with Olivia and Mellie would not have worked as well. She recognized that for that scene, Olivia had to stepback and let Bellamy do her thing as Mellie. Shonda and her writers wrote a killer scene with some killer lines for Bellamy. They wrote the scene in a way that both Olivia and Mellie showed their strength but underneath it all it was still about Olivia doing her thing. And luckily for the audience we had two very talented actresses who did justice to the scene.

Sandra2

There are a lot of issues I see with your thesis that makes me wonder if we watched the same show. I'm not a scriptwriter but it was pretty easy to follow the steps in the story as lay out by Shonda and I don't understand how you missed them. Others have addressed many of the issues I have with your argument already so I won't go into them again except for two points.

1. FLOTUS did not schooled Olivia. I am really amazed that some have missed the essence of that scene. Yes, Mellie had the showcase lines in the scene but like with her lie about the miscarriage, those lines were more about showing the audience the lengths that she would go to become and retain her position as First lady. Olivia was the one in charged of the outcome of that scene and the solution that they came up with. Don’t forget that Fitz was ready to give the presidency up for Olivia! Ignoring that rather BIG detail is pretty glaring but lets leave that alone for a moment and consider the other major aspect of episode 7 as pertaining to Mellie, Fitz and Olivia.

Mellie's solution was for Fitz to lie and say it was not him on the tape. When he said that he wouldn't do so, Mellie told him that he was on his own and started packing to go back to California. Basically, she gave up and was ready to cut and run from a sinking ship. What happens then! Well in walks Olivia to offer Mellie a deal. The writers even had Olivia show up as Mellie was packing to emphasize the fact that since Fitz had decided not to lie as Mellie suggested, she had no more cards to play and that is why she was heading back to CA. However, because Fitz was willing to give everything up for Olivia, the control was with her and not with Mellie. It's on her choice that his presidency either survived or fell.

So what is Olivia’s choice! Well she decides that for the sake of the country and also because of her love for Fitz and her belief that he will be a great president to give him up. Olivia then goes to Mellie to make a deal to save Fitz's presidency. Don't for one minute think that it was Mellie's idea to say that she was the woman on the tape. That idea was totally Olivia! Don't forget that we were already shown that Mellie's idea was for Fitz to lie. Olivia went to Mellie to make a deal and she knew going in that she would have a deal because a woman who would lie about a miscarriage to get to the white house would have no problem lying about being the one on the tape in order to keep that same position she plotted to achieve.

Yes, Mellie had the showcase lines but it was Olivia in control of the result. Even Mellie saying that it was time for her to take her husband back had no real merit because there is no way that she could have taken Fitz back if Olivia had decided to hold on to him. The only part of the solution that was probably Mellie’s idea was the baby angle, which I think she threw in as a way to stick it to Fitz and Olivia. However, Olivia again who solved the crisis and the writers even had Mellie point that fact out as she was leaving the room when she said “As I always say, whenever you are in trouble, put Olivia Pope on it” or words to that effect.

Tanya, I think that you like some others looked at the showcase lines from Mellie and totally missed the true dynamic of that scene and that is why I don’t agree with your thesis.

2. The other issue that I have with your thesis is that you even mentioned Sally Hemmings as part of justification for your argument. I am so tired with people comparing Olivia and Fitz’s relationship with that of Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson. Other than Fitz being a white president and Olivia being the black woman .he had an affair with, the comparison is tenuous at best. First, Hemmings was a slave and had no control over her life or destiny. Secondly, she was a young teenager when her affair with Jefferson started so I doubt that it could have been called a love match…in fact, it could arguably be called a lot worse. Olivia and Fitz’s relationship on the other hand started with they were both adults and in full control of t heir lives. They have also been written as obviously in love with each other and Olivia is arguably the most powerful woman in DC because of her job, connections, and the president’s feelings for her. It makes no sense for people to try to reduce Olivia to a Hemmings type character and I’m so tired of it.

JrGladiator

Thanks to STATIC_CLING for a fair appraisal of the situation. I am wondering if Tanya Steele may need some therapy or simply more education and life experiences… When is the last time that you were in love? Have you ever loved anyone that, for one reason or another, is essentially unattainable due to circumstance? Like BOOKWORM stated, you are looking for reasons not to like the show. It's sad. And a little pathetic. The show is flawless. Find some other show's nonexistent flaws to harp on…

STL

Tanita, stop hating. Scandal is the Cosby Show. This is politics baby and the dynamics are such that it is, in reality, all of the things you are critical of. That's life chick. It's not perfectly scripted.

Tanita

I can appreciate this post to a degree. For one – I enjoy watching this actor perform (without the close up of almost coming to tears). However, as I watched the show it took me back to why I could not swallow her character in "The Last King of Scotland." For me, I am young and married to a black man and we have 3 daughters and we struggle to find prime time representation. And so…Scandal seemed cool to tune in to. Anyway, without getting too PC, I really like Oliva Pope. She is the best thing to happen to the administration and she is in charge of her destiny. I get the "we are in love" plot. I just wish Shonda Rhimes would write that factoid BOTH ways.

If it persists, then what we should see unfold is; the President will resign, divorce his nagging un-attractive wife, get a condo in Mid-town Manhattan with his new mulatto family and blend into the fabric of the "regular life" he wants, with the love of his life! He could bank from writing a book about the whole thing and be set. She could go onto write a book AND still be hired to manage anyone's campaign in the future.

If we do not see this happening then, yes it becomes unbelievably romantic and sends the wrong message that black women are super vulnerable when it comes to white men and we out of touch with reality. This is the same unrealistic romanticism I see in Private Practice. There is some gritty-ness to the language that I connect with and like to engage in. But then there is the overcast of "this makes no sense" when it comes to relationships and the people involved. The finale shows Olivia hand in her pass to the security guard(who earlier inadvertently tells her to do what she can to fix the blunder of possibly loosing the only President who "asked him about his family"). He looked perplexed at the laminate…is she resigning? To go away and have her love-child alone (soap opera requirement)? Is she taking the route that is now the norm for black women today – Is she to collect child-support/quiet money for the rest of her and her child's life? Either way – not looking good for us colored girls. Again.

Melissa

"The trouble with Tanya Steele's highly subjective and inconsequential opinion piece"… As an African without any known slavery connections, I am wondering why Tanya why? Sally Hemmings? Really? I can see why that comparison would offend people. So every black women who displays the feminine wiles and flaws in the presence of a Caucasian man she is attracted to… is a Sally Hemmings? That woman had no choice in her liaison with Jefferson. And why do you have to take things back to slavery?

Static_Cling

I respectfully disagree with many of the author's comments. KW's character, Olivia Pope, is in love with a man who happens to be the POTUS. Love will make you act out of character. A strong, dominant woman calling the shots will let down her guard with the man she's in love with and occasionally act uncharacteristically. It's just being in love. I highly disagree with the comment that Olivia's relationship with the POTUS is not interesting or believable. What show is the author watching again The "Scandal" that I'm watching has my screen on fire with the chemistry that exists between KW and TG who plays the POTUS. Their attraction to and genuine like for each other are what makes their characters work and have viewers rooting for them despite the fact that it's an adulturous affair. Olivia's character cannot be the dragon lady all through the show. How boring and monotonous is that? She should be allowed to have her vulnerabilities, one of which is loving the POTUS. No one wants to watch her be hard and 100 all the time. SR wouldn't dare end the relationship between Olivia and the POTUS because that dynamic is why most people have tuned in and love it. She will likely get another love interest next season who's single, and that will add some interesting tension. I agree that perhaps a character could be introduced, like a family member, to give a glimpse of Olivia's personal world and to show a different side of her vulnerability. It's totally okay for that character to have those vulnerable moments because she's already shown and proven her mettle as a fixer. Plus, I don't see Olivia as a Sally Hemings. She's not subordinate to the POTUS like that. Olivia turned around his failing campaign and got him elected. How is that the embodiment of an enslaved mistress? She's in love with a man who's unavailable, and if anything, the POTUS has been more demonstrative and vocal of that love than she has. Ethnicity is not a factor in their relationship, which is awesome. They have enough to deal with. Please, let's not be overly critical and give "Scandal" room to grow.

Kia

Thank you Tanya for posting this. If there is a petition going around to Keep Olivia Pope Fierce, I will be the first one to sign. Agreed… please for heaven's sake drop the President love subplot.

Wanda Leverette

I m catching up on the last episodes I missed and the OP of two years before is much different from the one that crumbles whenever the President is around. The woman she is as a leader shouldn't turn 160 degrees whenever the old boyfriend comes into the room! It's out of character. I hope the next 13 episodes gives Olivia a backbone with the POTUS!

Ronald T. Jones

My name is Olivia Pope. :)

tt

I like Shonda Rhimes up tempo diologue/monologues. Through those moments you learn from the characters and begin to identify with them. That is why they were written in the first place. But sometimes, if you are not fast paced, or it takes you a while to 'get it' – I do understand the frustration.
Teams are just that- teams. Everyone places a role and you get to know each one, and value each person w/in the team. Although KW plays a large role -but she isn't the cast. A real leader – is one who will allow others on the team to step up. A real woman- is someone who is vulnerable, loving, and sensual. And just because the woman may be on her own doesn't mean she cannot be those things. Who wants to be around someone who is hard (domineering) all the time? Who wants to work with someone like that? That definitely doesn't produce loyal workers. Just saying.

Bookworm

I think you are looking for reasons to dislike the show.
The fast pace of the show is what it is. We walk into any law office (I've interned at one) and nothing is slow. People are talking fast and throwing papers by the dozen in your face. Olivia and her team talk fast but they are efficient. You get the words because they speak clearly and maybe once or twice it was really mumbled. I think the cast is great at it!!
I thought the scene with Amanda was great but it also showed Olivia's heartless side when it comes to Fitz. Like Cyrus, they seek to protect him and Olivia was unreasonable since Amanda did indeed sleep with him; though she was sent in.
I don't think going to NYU's graduate film program makes you any one fit to judge a TV show than others. It just means you are petty when it comes to things; makes for bad reviews-they are less fan like and more critical "tight collar" like.
They are both the lead but Olivia is the main character; she is fierce and in control of her professional life but she is flawed in her personal. The weekly cases and her helping the President at the end shows that she is dominate woman with control and power in her job but she has a heart that is conscious and in love.
Also, I think you were petty with the "undermining Olivia's decision"; Olivia wanted to call the cops and Huck, being the ex CIA he is, knew he needed the phone; he mentions it and says that we have to get it, I don't see how he undermined Olivia in that sense. They are very much a team where everyone has their strong points and contributes. Olivia is the head who makes the biggest decisions and pulls them all together but this is far from a dictatorship of Olivia Pope.
I do not think the First Lady was demeaning; she is the first lady and at the end of the day Fitz wife. Olivia and Mellie are very much on even playing field but Mellie is far more bloody thirty for power and Olivia did come to here wanting to make a deal; she got the deal of her life by playing with the She-Devil. Mellie is the perfect villain and it was a matter of time before her and Olivia showed down.
Anyone who is fan can see that Olivia, at the end of the day, is very much in control of the situation. I do believe she "fell back" for the sake of Fitz career but if and when she wants, Fitz will drop everything to be with her. Only Olivia can really help make a plan and Fitz will follow through. We saw that when Mellie told him to lie in the beginning of the episode and he basically told her no, he's not her. But an "Olivia made plan" clearly has a different affect.
As for the main character; Its still very much Olivia and ABC keeps all the promotions with Kerry. Ratings have been pretty good for the May Sweeps and Scandal topped all of their season ratings with the finale; it also earned them a Fall Spot.
Also the Sally and Olivia comparison is insulting.
Clearly you want Olivia to be the "strong black woman" stereotype instead of the regular, soft woman who is in love with a man and has her weakness. I don't need her whole background as I don't feel it matters when it comes to who she is, the fixer. She doesn't have to be "Miss Independent" and "not need a man". That would make her Mellie. I love that Olivia is a confident, smart and classy woman who is clearly feared out of respect by her peers. She is also soft and clearly feminine ; Kerry has a vulnerability feel to her that makes Olivia seem very docile but yet powerful.

Logic

Having read this again, I can't say I understand what got people so up in arms. At this point I just have to doubt that just a lot of people critiquing – a polite word for it, as some of you are plainly leveling low blows and cheap shots – Ms. Steele skimmed the article and jumped into the fray. Some plainly misunderstood: "I just don'™t agree with or understand your criticism. Why do you think women must €always lead"?… As a highly ascended corporate female professional myself, I can tell you from experience, €œWe don't always lead." Assuming that was in response to this portion of the article, "It is very difficult for women to keep a strong, female character at the center of the story. This seems to be the case here. By the second to last episode, I did not know if 'the president' or Olivia Pope was the lead. It's a very subtle dynamic. 'The president' took the lead in their interactions. He asked for 'the minute'. He showed up at her house. He was making the choices. The lead has to make the choices, otherwise, they become a 'passive' character. " My answer to that poster is that this is screenwriting 101. One of the first things you're taught (I also studied at NYU, though I won't attest to having emerged with anything more than a degree and debt) is that the protagonist of the story must drive the action, whether they're male or female. Simple. Nothing personal. Now just because Ms. Steele is offering a critique of a show featuring a black woman lead/created by a black woman doesn't mean she's invalidating the lives and/or choices of black women who can relate to her. We're not on trial. And can we get to the point where a black person can offer an honest opinion on another black person's work without being labeled a hater or getting hit below the belt? It's starting to get ridiculous.

sandra

@The Great CareyCarey says: " The opposing voice would have you believe that every black women is down with the sistah going down on the white man's "crown"… Down at the peepshow [Scandal], watching all the creeps…" *************** Do you even watch this show? Why are you being so crass toward black women who like this show? You need prayer! LMAO

sandra

@Bondgirl – Yup, I remember reading that Shonda based "Scandal" on a British series format.

CareyCarey

"Wow… where are all of the sensible posts from yesterday (such as TRUDY'S) and why have we been left with equal parts drivel and equal parts sensibility~ Nadine". That is a perfect segway to the belly of the beast. ***READ THE FOLLOWING 178 COMMENTS AT YOUR OWN RISK*** Some women would have you believe the author of this article in the boogieman. Yet, she's actually a very sensible black woman who others have found fault with. Her balanced critic of the new tv series Scandal has sent many black women over the edge. The opposing voice would have you believe that every black women is down with the sistah going down on the white man's "crown". Which most sensible black folks know is simply not true. They will also wax poetic in an effort to pursuade others that adultery and colorblindness is great entertainment, and thus, anyone who disagrees with their vision of fun and happiness is obviously standing on the wrong side of the fence. Yes, those who differed with the author will sling mud, take cheap shots and vilify her in a disgraceful attempt to discredit her name. Along the way, it's their hope that you'll be afraid join hands with the author for fear of "guilt by assosciation". SO BE FORWARNED! ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. Until then: Food For Thought. It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under. Don't push me cause I'm close to the edge, I'm trying not to lose my head, ah huh-huh-huh. It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under. Down at the peepshow [Scandal], watching all the creeps so she can tell the stories to the girls back home ["me and my professional girlfriends all LOVE this show!!"] . My brother's so sad bout my mother's TV, says she watches too much, it's just not healthy "All My Children" in the daytime, "Scandal" at night, can't even see the game or the Mayweather fight. A child is born with no state of mind, blind to the ways of mankind [All those people can't be blind and misguided. There's something about the Scandal that is connecting with many women. And, the criticism in this article is tired] God is smiling on you but he's frowning too because only God knows what you'll go through. You'll grow in the ghetto, living second rate. And others will sing… placate, and emulate, the white man, it's great. The places you play and where you stay, looks like one great big alley way. You'll admire all the number book takers, thugs, pimps, pushers [Movie's stars] and the big money makers [ Rhimes is a genius] driving big cars, spending twenties and tens. And you wanna grow up to be just like them, huh. Sleeping with a married man-her, scramblers, be damn-her, peddlers even panhandlers. You say: “I'm cool, I'm no fool! and everyone should join me in this school – of – thought” But then you wind up dropping out, divorced, lonely and tired, no clout. GRANDMASTER FLASH – THE MESSAGE

sandra

@NADINE – Oh snap! You're on fire. Nothing but the truth.

From Tokyo

"I don't simply support because it's black. It's got to be well done."

This. Supporting well-done media, regardless of race or whatever else, would hopefully encourage the creation of more well-done media. I fervently wish we could do this en masse, so that whether it's a deep, thought-out drama or an action flick, it could still be well-done. Just because a tv show, song, movie, etc. serves a purpose, it still should serve that purpose well.

That said, I have not seen the show yet (not broadcasted here), but because of this site and articles either way about it, I've become curious. If I can find it, I'd like to watch it and see for myself.

Nadine

Wow… where are all of the sensible posts from yesterday (such as TRUDY'S) and why have we been left with equal parts drivel and equal parts sensibility? I would like to reiterate, very important, that your "interpretation" of the "clean up" of Gideon's apartment is wholly incorrect. Please see the final episode at the 7:20 mark. Olivia asks Huck, "…we good?", Huck replies, "We're good.", Olivia asks again, "…we sure", and then Huck's final reply is "We're good.". The scene moves on and Olivia calls 911… Huck then remembers the cell… it was Huck's error (he just didn't own it), not Olivia's fault …at…all…, so if that scene, that "simple moment" spoke volumes to you… you should rest at ease. I do believe that it would be irresponsible for you to keep that portion of your article up, though, as it misleads the many readers who have not actually watched the show. Tanya, I find that misinterpretation as careless as the title and perspective of the article (changing the title of the article would help to silent the false "alarm" set off unless that was your intention). Tanya, I get the film school eye, but it is also seems clear that you could be more seasoned. Your lack of understanding regarding the feat Shonda Rhimes undertook in successfully condensing a major storyline of such magnitude with ancillary characters (and tangential arcs) whom we, the audience, are supposed to care about (let alone breaking barriers with a Black woman lead character in Obama's Amerikkka) within a 7 episode "season" is short-sighted and near negligent. Your request for more Columbus Short is also unfortunate. Honestly, any seasoned writer, or patient viewer, could see how Rhimes was quietly developing a connection between Quinn and Short's character. The show opened with Quinn and Short's character (Harrison); as Quinn's character develops next season, we will, obviously, see a heck of a lot more Short. I loved his role and liked how, in the few short episodes, they were able to establish his reliability, his personality, his maturity, yet his junior status which works well since before Quinn arrived, Short's character would have been "the baby". I loved that, for me, it was clear that Short's character (Harrison) was going to be given the opportunity to grow next season, so my interest in the Quinn storyline has more to do with the development of the Quinn/Harrison dynamic (which I'm excited to see… I find their relationship to be very sweet and also perfectly staged for a wonderful dynamic next season). This sense of urgency in moving the storyline is something I often see as a major fault in up and coming filmmakers. They want to tell TOO much story and haven't really learned that drama can be quiet. Drama can be established and LATER USED to make what would be seen as a more pedestrian storyline… e.g. "Oh, Olivia's got a new boyfriend", where everything is riding on the casting of the actor, their chemistry and more blah boring stuff, to a more layered storyline, "Oh, Olivia has got a new boyfriend who once consulted for Senator Gonzales who ran against Grant and so on and so forth…". Scriptwriting… is a weakness I'm seeing a lot more of, and this lack of patience is a major contributor to these issues. Rhimes is a genius. I'm not even going to break down why, but Rhimes has been patient, the tortoise, and won.

Nicole

And here I thought this post would top out at 100 comments. 165(166) and still going strong.

Solaam

Why did this article create anarchy?

Dankwa Brooks

WOW! 156 comments! #ThatIsAll

MOGAL1

Tanya were we watching the same show?… Because me and my professional girlfriends all LOVE this show!! We love it's characters and it's story line(s). I just don’t agree with or understand your criticism. Why do you think women must “always lead"?… As a highly ascended corporate female professional myself, I can tell you from experience, “We don't always lead.” Nor do we always want to – the Smart ones allow those around them to lead when necessary too. They also realize their idea is not the “only idea” or always the “best idea” for that matter. What I can tell you is that we do “want to WIN!” And that’s what Olivia Pope’s office does each week. WIN! Next, why can't Olivia make a bad choice in who she falls in love with – women do it every day – Even smart women? For the story to have credibility the "President of the free world" would NOT be someone who "only takes orders from Olivia Pope! Come on… Now regarding the lines/delivery, really, you don’t like the delivery? I love the rapid fire delivery of the lines – It puts pace in the story and the show, "if you don't pay attention – You will miss it!"… That's what happens in high power jobs!! I know – I’ve got one. It’s "keep up, or get run over – left out – or fired!" I actually agree with your comment wanting to see more back-story about Olivia’s childhood/background. How did she become the power player that she is? – that’s usually an interesting story too. The back-story and her inner circle of friends probably will be covered in the future of the show. I don’t think that you can disclose this kind of detail in a mere 7 or 8 episode. I predict that we will not discover much in the friend’s area because women (people) with jobs like Olivia Pope "usually" find that the people they work with also become the “friends & family” that they socialize with. Why? Because they can't speak freely to outsiders about “what they’re doing” – “what's really going on with their clients business” It’s the kind of confidential information that everyone involved KNOWS they cannot share outside the office or it would all be sold to TMZ and they would be fired. Can you say “Client- Lawyer confidentiality?” Tanya, bottom line is SCANDAL, is a great new show so “Don’t Hate!”

rozzjack

I disagree with you Tanya. I think Olivia Pope is realistic. I love the fact that she's all powerful in her work life, but vulnerable and unsure in her love life. That's realistic. I know plenty of women in real life who are like that. If Olivia were superwoman in both her work life and personal life, she'd be a one note character and she'd be boring and predictable. Shonda Rhimes' signature is creating female characters who have it together career wise, but struggle in their love lives. You see this in Meredith, Christina, Bailey (Grey's Anatomy), Addison (Private Practice), and now Olivia. In regards to Olivia being checked by FLOTUS, she was sleeping with the woman's husband. She would have some nerve trying to tell her off when she's in the wrong. What is she supposed to say? "Yeah b*#ch, I slept with your husband. What of it?"

I love the dynamic between Olivia and the president. Again, she's all powerful at work, but when she's around the president, she's vulnerable, weak, and she second guesses herself, however, she eventually ends up doing what she feels is the right thing. You can tell she likes being dominated sexually by him. She spends her day in control of everything and everybody, but in the bedroom she wants to be dominated. I get it. I think it's very sexy.

DHarr

I think you're overanalyzing and placing expectations on the show based on your own biases, You're not giving SR or KW the respect they deserve for delivering a very entertaining and engaging show in just seven episodes. So what if some of KW's acting involves silences. She does a hell of a job with those silences. Everything doesn't need to be said out loud. I love the show including the very sexy and intriguing Olitz relationship. I plan to trust SR's vision for the next season—that she will flesh out Olivia and the other characters in the 13 show season. It's her clay, let her sculpt. If you want to create something, why don't you just do so and not bash someone else's creation.

Tiffany Darling

I think you're hating. Perhaps you should write your own TV show since you can't see how great this one is. You remind me of a Hollywood "Suit" who just doesn't get that maybe there are some Black powerful women who are in fact, disconnected from their families because they are work-a-holics, maybe estranged for climbing high up the ladder. How many friends would you have if you worked for the President of The United States? Do you think there's time for Sunday dinner in the hood or a middle class environment where "Olivia Pope" may be from. In her job, don't you think she'd want to protect her family and keep her loved ones from harm? What's wrong with showing vulnerability and strength? Just relax and let Shonda live. I don't watch Grey's Anatomy, because I am not into hospital dramas. However, she is a successful Black woman with two hit shows and we don't need another person spitting on the success of Black writers and actors who don't "get" the overall picture. She is opening doors…while people like you continue to keep them closed, allowing Tyler to walk in, in a dress. Don't watch it if you don't like it. But don't talk smack out of jealousy and hate. You're a hater…stop it. It's a great show. Great writing. Great acting. It will only get better from here. I'm in and I don't even watch TV! Congrats to Shonda and Kerry for ROCKING this drama out the PARK! Tell the critics to kiss yo' A$$ as you cash that check! And little miss Script Analyzer…think on this some more because you're wrong and you're probably a PA script reader with no control, trying to flex your chops in the wrong place #sorry #fanofSCANDAL

Bluedove

Tanya—Excellent job! This was a balanced, intelligent assessment of a good show that can be even better! I hope someone gets your script ideas to Shonda Rimes!

AI

Where did my comment go?

meks

Ms or Mrs Tanya steele, I gotta ask bcoz I'm also a black man, whats wrong with just enjoying a TV show? Why does it have to be twisted and adjusted to fit a certain criteria. Answer this, is the show about race or is it about Black female power or is it quite simply a TV show that is meant to be enjoyed. I'm happy for kerry washington because she's amongst the few black women that's leading a show. But that's it.
Do you think the fact there are very few black people leading their own show, is some kind of slight to the black community. Does that mean you buy into the notion that blacks have something to prove against whites, like "oh we gotta show that we went to college or are educated". I mean seriously that's fundamentally flawed, if you doing your job to prove other people wrong or for social status respect, thats sad. You are either good at what you do or you're not, there's no black or white to it. Period. Now please write better articles and give me something to enjoy and learn from, not this rant about an old way of thinking. I mean for goodness sakes, you're writing an article and its being read by the whole world, isn't that an indication of a liberal expression that was not afforded to us blacks back in the day. Not that I'm playing ignorant to race or anything but its not a factor to be shined like a light on every damn detail. It makes one's way of thinking and ability to expand you mind, shrink. Common now. Back off from such critics and let the show take you on a journey.
Now you are better than this, so be better. Impress your audience.

Travis

It's the first season, with only 7 episodes. I wonder if you would have the same sentiments if this were a white woman playing the lead. Don't forget, we don't know ANYTHING about Quinn – or did you forget that point and only focus on the minority characters?

Ali

Jeez I feel like the only person that never watches this show, LOL.

lauren

I have girlfriends who are smart and beautiful yet totally irrational when it comes to the men in their life… sad but true! I call it "chemistry override" Every super hero has an achilles heel and Fitz is Olivia's kryptonite- that's what makes her human and their chemistry makes the show entertaining.

Moionfire

I half agree with this article. Although scandal only had 7 episodes, they should have made a better effort to flesh out Olivia's life outside of work aside from her romance with president.

I don't think Olivia should travel– this show is about DC crisis management. Lets not make this show about everything.

It also does seem that harrison(by colombus short) is the least fleshed out character.

Essentially I think the soap-opera esque element of Scandal is what drawing more people– but I think the heavy focus has compromised this show being a serious crisis managment procedural show. It also has made Olivia Pope less interesting and symphateic as she always seems frazled or weak in the knees for President Fitz.

CareyCarey

Please… who cut the chess? Oh wait, that's just the rotting smell of psuedo intellectualism, funky rationalization and lame minimization defense mechanisms leaving foul droppings on the floor. Also, over in the dark corner, that's the smell of Uncle Tom's butt crack. Hey, I'm not trying to be funny, this mess is getting deep in here. Listen, just as some folks are tired of the "race' discussion finding it's way in several S&A posts, I am equally feed up with those who run and hide from the obvious. Look, I know it's cheap to blame the white man for all our misfortunes, I'm on that. So I am going to set the record straight. I don't care what anyone says, when a person enters a room, the first thing we identify is the color of their skin – period! That cannot be denied. If you meet someone who disputes that claim — RUN! They are fooling themselve or they believe you're a damn fool. So it's all Shonda Rime's fault. We would not be having this discussion if the lead character was not a black woman and Shonda Rimes was not in her position of authority, would we? But wait, before the Pro-Shonda crowd jerks their knees, listen to the whole story. Okay, to get the full impact, we have to flip the script, because in my opinion, Shonda is getting the big black pass because she's a big black woman. That's right, take that as you please but hear me out. Let's say Betty Crocker, Kathryn Stockett or Lena Dunham was the writer of Scandal. Yeah… white chicks. UT OH, shit just got a little funky didn't it? I wonder if the "Down with Tanya Steele's head" crowd would be singing their same dixie-land song? But wait, let's put a little P-Funk on this party. You know, for all who are down with the female mandingo role, let's have the writer pen the lead character as a black man and his creep, Kathy Bates. OH YEAH, that would be hot wouldn't it? Why would anyone notice the color of their skin? Hell, why even talk about it. Oh, I know, if Kathy Bates was a thin white chick with the looks of Marilyn Monroe, problem solved – right? No more race issues, and everybody would still be cozy-cozy-cool-cool with this scandal… this mess… this soapy night time soap opera – right? I doubt it very seriously. If a white woman wrote Scandals this comment section would be on fire! And much of it would be about race and the sorry storylines. Shonda… plain and simple, is getting a pass, and some black folks are frontin' — and fakin' the funk. That's what I said, intellectualizing, rationalizing and justifying black folks [some]who would sell their souls to live in a colorblind world — when it suits their interests. It ain't happening… so get over it and get over yourselves! Tanya Steele told it like it TIS!

Logic

Is there some kind of Jedi mind trick/Vulcan mind-meld going on in that screen shot? She looks like she's been rendered a naive little girl.

Stevinix

We( black people) are always belly aching about Hollywood's treatment of the African American in film and television. I am black and I am so confused about what "we" want. "We" hated The Help. Why do they always make us maids? "We" hate buffoonery. And now, apparently, "we" hate an intelligent, beautiful black woman who can walk in and out of the White House at will. Oh, yeah, and "we" apparently don't care much for the black man on the show. "We" don't want to see us in maids uniforms and then "we" don't think a beautiful wardrobe is enough. No wonder Hollywood doesn't like to take chances on us for film and television. "We" as a people are never satisfied. I am a huge Shonda Rhimes fan. I watch Grey's and I have fallen for SCANDAL. While I don't care much for PP, I do not dis it. SCANDAL is well written and well acted. I can see a couple of your points (I had a meltdown when the redhead yelled at Olivia Pope). But the fast talking is the style of the show. If you don't like it, don't watch. That's what I do when I don't like the style of a show (Desperate Housewives). I don't need for Olivia Pope to have family and friends as her lack thereof tell me as much about her as having them would. SCANDAL is a smart, saavy show that requires a viewer that can keep up. Now, I do agree that we need to see more of the delicious Columbus Short. Much more.

misha

One last point and then I'm taking my ass to bed! LOL Olivia is really no different than many of the lead characters on other shows when it comes to "losing" in her personal life. Just take Hugh Laurie's House, for example. He's a brilliant surgeon whose personal life is a mess and is certainly not above being "schooled" by other characters when he's in the wrong. An obvious tactic by the writers to make him more relatable/sympathetic to viewers. In other words, Olivia cannot win/be fearless all the damn time! LOL If she did, she would be one annoying/unlikable character, at least to this viewer.

Babygirl

I think her relationship with the president is what made the show. It seems you like to put a lot of racism into this show and I don't feel that's the case at all. Olivia pope is still the lead and there are other main characters. I enjoy the show very much and I watch it to see how these star crossed lovers will b able to b together. Everyone is focused on what's happening now as honestly I don't think anyone really cares about her "teenage years"

Kelea

I haven't read any of the other comments but I have to say for the most part I agree. Especially with the seven points, those are the areas where this show is lacking (though I enjoy it) and what I'm missing. Not necessarily kill the Fitz/Olivia storyline for good (I'm not fond of Fitz, not enough to be interested in their love story, but I'm not against them eventually being together either,) but it does need a rest. All the other points are spot on in my opinion.

Nunxie

Just like you claim you couldn't get through the 1st episode, I certainly will not get through this article. It's weird how blackness becomes this ridiculous chip on the shoulder that drives every analysis. Eeeeevery analysis is, "oh goodness, let us unpack the idea that, well, other whiiiite actress get to do this, so why can't weeee?" So over this redundant crap. So WHAT Olivia Pope is black? Why does Kerry Washington's skin color have to prompt these agonizingly tired articles about black characters in TV shows? Over and over again!

People are enjoying the show. Let them ENJOY IT. Move on with your life and try to come up with some other innovative article to write about, even if it's hinged on race, race, race. Make it fresh! Stop whining. Oh, the irony of someone writing an article with this header, while repeating the same general B.S. "woe-is-black-actress-in-a-diverse-cast-produced-by-a-black-woman-on-a-major-network!" Urgh. Done.

Matt

I think most women of color want a white man because that means you have made it in america.Black actress want to be famous and really the only way to do that is to be with a white man.

Mr J

I am one who loves the show. This could have easily have been a white actress in the lead role. But the choice was to put a black woman in the lead. Let's not make it about a black woman who has to be black… I love the pacing and the fast-talk dialogue between the characters. Be patient, a lot of Olivia past will be reveal in the second season. If you are so great at dissecting characters then write you own damn show and shop it. This show has room to grow with other black characters and nuances. Olivia Pope is the lead and she's strong, but her character is flawed by weaknesses which make her human. A woman in-love is a woman in-love no matter what her occupation is. That's why it's so hard to keep shows like this on the air because so many asinine complaints from black viewers. The show was executed well enough to bring me back for next season. I applaud Shonda! And by the way, Grey's Anatomy never came across like a soap opera to me. If it did, I would watch it anyway because that's what I do…support other writers and producers. Go some where and sit down!

Orville

Shadow and Act is the ONLY website I have seen really tackle the issue of race in relation to Scandal.
An important issue Tanya's article addresses is Scandal isn't as racially diverse as ABC and Shonda Rhimes is letting on. Scandal seems to try very hard to placate to white audiences. Shonda makes sure that Olivia Pope has no black friends, no black family no connection to the black community. Olivia Pope is this color blind woman that is supposed to be exist in this bubble which is ludicrous.

On other websites the whole Sally Hemmings complaint is just glossed over. Race is a big part of Scandal even though Shonda Rhimes and ABC want to pretend it doesn't matter. Just because race isn't discussed doesn't mean it isn't there.

I would LOVE to see Olivia with a black male love interest in season two. I feel Olivia needs to demonstrate to the audience she is independent from President Grant. Some people are too caught up in the fantasy of a black woman being seduced by a white man. Tony Goldwyn isn't bad looking for his age I will give him that and I do see the chemistry he has with Kerry. However, I don't like Olivia Pope being so vulnerable she is too weak and I have a problem with that. I want Olivia to stand up to Fitz and Mellie I want her to have a backbone and be her own person.

I don't think our opinions is dissing the show I think most people on this website want Scandal to be better. Constructive criticism is never a bad thing. Tanya wrote a well written essay and provided some suggestions on how to improve Scandal.

E. Joyce Moore

Love your article. I think Scandal is a great first step into taking African American leads in a major non-comedic television series. I do think Kerry is doing a great acting job and look forward to the writers moving the series to yet another level.

Awahili

Looking at these responses, it seems many would like it better if Kerry Washington was a mammy character in the house of payne. If the president were a black man would you still be making this Jefferson/Hennings allegation???? This is why shows like this with an educated talented black lead to not do very well because you guys love to tear it down. Crying Shame!

Brown Betty

From this post I want to respond to some of the bullet points:

1 – A support system for Olivia Pope outside of her office (a family member, sister, brother, old college roommate… someone that she can commune with beyond the office), open up her world. This will give us a sense of her inner life, what sustains her, what motivates her.

My Response: And why do we need to know this? If you need this go watch the cosby show or a different world

2 – Let Ms. Pope control the interactions with her lovers. Don't allow her to be a woman of straw that bends in whatever direction her lover needs.

My Response: She looks like she can get a grip when she needs to. You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. given her position she has to operate in a way to make the powerful men she is with "look" like they are controlling things. Women do this every day in their marriages. The man is the head, the woman is the neck and she turns the head any way she wants.

3 – Invite us into her background (childhood, teenage years).

My response: if she were dysfunctional, on drugs, etc maybe a backstory would be necessary, but it is not, we know what we need to know about her for the time being.

4 – Take her out of the U.S. (always wonderful to see a woman abroad, out of her element, but, in control).

My Response: Great, should she invite Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte along too?

5 – Squash the relationship with the president. It's done. It's not that interesting or believable. We will learn much more about her as she attempts relationships with other, less powerful, men.

My response: So she is not worth being the desire of the most powerful man in the world? We can learn a whole lot more from her if she were screwing Ray Ray, Pookie, or that security guard she was speaking with in the season finale? Now I get it *****facepalm*****

Dean

I've read your entire comment. The show is good but not great. I like it and I intend to keep on watching. I've enjoyed every episode so far and I do not watch any other Shonda Rhimes shows.

BeautyIAM

With all due respect, NO I am not going to hear you out. I'm tired of hearing what people like you have to say. Nothing can be good enough for people like you without having to analyze the hell out of it. I really wish people like you would sit down and be quiet.

Darkan

Why has no one realized or mentioned that the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES in this show was willing to give it all up to be with her? Leave his marriage, children and the presidency for a black woman!!!? That alone was some of the best writing in years and that alone was worth my time of viewing!!! Yeah for Scandal and love to my black sistas!!!

Jeni

Good post, but I just can't with this show. I gave it several chances, but almost always turned the channel after a ridiculous, unbelievable scene, or the Pres ordering Olivia around in their foreplay scenes (yeah, you're not the only one who saw shades of Sally). After I saw the opening where Olivia decides to clean the murder scene, I was done. Love Kerry's work, but I'm done.

Nadell

Folks, we gotta be patient. The pilot was only limited to 7 (seven) episodes. In that time-frame Rhimes had to build on those few episodes alone and capitalize and draw the viewers. Was it 100% perfect? Perhaps not but what pilot series are picture perfect? It's all about keeping our suspense heightened and desiring for more. Sure we witnessed the weakness of the strong-willed Olivia Pope and in the same token we saw it for POTUS. Aren't we all vulnerable and weak in areas? But I promise now that Rhimes has gotten the green light for season 2, we will see more into the life of Olivia Pope. Rhimes knows exactly what she's doing. Her method is one that should be followed by many. It is a matter of lulling and pacifying – . Rhimes is a black woman pitching a show about a black female lead character to a board of directors that are dominated by whites. All that she wants to do cannot be done instantly. It'll take time …gradually. She can't just come full-blown and present everything all at once. That isn't how it works, unfortunately. Well certainly not in this case.
I will say yes I am slightly disappointed with Olivia's hard exterior being shattered by the passion she has for the POTUS and that she succumbed to a married man but this is reality; regardless of this totally being a fictional character. All isn't perfect — make believe or not.
I like the show and I'm excited about season 2 and am proud of the brilliance that is Shonda Rhimes!!

Wm. Randall

And here I thought I was the only viewer who felt this way. Right on, Ms. Steele!

Kid chaos

The above pic look like the white man is trying to rape the whore.(Any woman who sleeps with a married man is a whore)

Cherish

I am really surprised that so many women here are content with how the FLOTUS confronted Olivia and Olivia's reaction afterwards. That was not "the indignant wife confronting her husband's lover" convo. In that scenario, Olivia's guilt and acquiescence to Mellie's demands would have been justified and appropriate. But here Mellie basically told Olivia, "you were supposed to keep f*cking my husband since he loved you, and that's fine with me since I don't want to f*ck him anyway. But you stopped f*cking my husband and he went and f*cked someone else, so this scandal is ALL YOUR FAULT!" Mellie practically YELLED at Olivia, "I'm the First Lady and I do my job, WHY COULDN'T YOU DO YOURS??" And Olivia just stood there with her mouth open. WTF?? No comment from her? No thoughts, nothing. How does Olivia feel about what the FLOTUS just threw at her? We know she's suppose to be the fixer, but come on! What does that say about Olivia? What is Shonda trying to say about this character? I mean, I don't believe Shonda is actually saying THAT about Olivia, but more dialogue, something was needed to clarify. Then Mellie closes with, "For starters, I'm gonna need to take my husband back, because clearly, I have to do everything myself from now on." Um, didn't we already see Olivia give him up? But she still sucks it up. And again, no thoughts or feelings on this and how this relates or impacts her job. I just have never seen a lead White female character under so early in a drama's inception. That wasn't a good plot device or writing IMO. Anyway, had to rant because I just don't get how you ladies think this was good story or OK for Olivia's character development. It just felt thrown out there for shock value to leave our mouths gaping. Then again, this is what Shonda Rhimes is good at anyway, and maybe I'm a masochist as I still keep watching Grey's Anatomy (and yes, I hated that season finale.) Still doesn't necessarily make it good TV.

Orville

I could be wrong but I think Tanya made the Sally Hemmings reference in relation to Olivia Pope's sexuality. In Scandal, when Mellie criticizes Olivia for stop having the affair with her husband I thought that scene really cheapened Olivia. I don't mean in the context of being the mistress but I thought there was a subtle form of racism involved. So a black woman is basically the concubine for the white president? Mellie basically loaned her husband over so Olivia can sleep with him she had her approval. I felt that scene really treated Olivia like a prostitute.

Orville

Tanya writes a compelling essay it is true Olivia is too weak and vulnerable. Maybe the reason Olivia's personality hasn't been strong is because Shonda only got seven episodes? It seems to me ABC isn't giving Scandal enough time to develop. Next season Scandal is ONLY getting thirteen episodes instead of twenty two.

But I don't think Shonda Rhimes will pair Kerry Washington with a black man.
Also, President Grant is going NOWHERE I have surfed the internet and yes there are plenty of black women and women of other races who really love the interracial romance.
I imagine Shonda might give Olivia a new love interest but he will be white. I would LOVE to see Olivia with someone like Henry Simmons or Anthony Mackie but I doubt this will happen.

I am sorry to say but it seems to me in Shonda's post racial world she really wants to attract as many viewers as possible. I am proud of Shonda's hard work and being a successful black woman TV producer. But maybe we don't know the politics at work?

Maybe ABC told Shonda don't make the show too black? Maybe this is the reason the show seems to try SO HARD to ignore blackness?

Someone else mentioned that if the Scandal appears too black it will frighten other races off. I think Scandal isn't black enough and I agree with Tanya that Olivia NEEDS a life outside of the office. I would love to see Olivia have a mother, or a best friend who is a black woman or some family member on the show.

Neziah

It's a decent show for what it is, I'd rather not read too deeply into it, it's only a waste of time anyway. Rhimes isn't going to change a damn thing no matter how many people bitch.

Hakeem

For the record, I agree with Trudy's response below. Scandal is not the best show or even the best drama on television. However, it is entertaining. The suggestions in this article would completely alter the complexion of the show and force it to fail in my opinion. The suggestions are valid but how would they thrive in the current media landscape where a black woman has not starred as lead in a drama in decades??? And lets not ignore the overwhelming images of black women all over reality tv! Baby steps are necessary to present a more realistic character and plot. In the meantime, blacks need to be more supportive whether we agree 100% or not or maybe just show that u can do better (good luck with that btw). I'm also a writer and its really depressing to realize that I will likely receive the harshest of criticisms from my own people when I am doing it to further our collective agenda. Lets lighten up a bit! It is a show! It has nothing to do with slavery. We are a new and diverse people and the world deserves to see it all.

Francine Fanon

If Kerry's character "checks" the wife of the man she's sleeping with then she looks like a black b****. Why can't she be held accountable for the wrongs she's done? If she weren't then you'd be saying she's a "Magical Negress" who solves all problems and is perfect all the time and why watch the show until they make her three-dimensional/flawed. And Sally Hemmings? Really? Black love has a 59% marriage rate. I think more Black women need to find love where they can get love back and stop this tomfoolery of quotas when Black men clearly don't give a hoot.

Cherish

I'm glad you wrote this 'cause it touched on some issues I have with this drama. I agree with points 1-3. Point 4 – traveling outside the U.S. is unnecessary and they probably have a limited budget. Point 6 – you're completely off. Olivia's relationship with the POTUS is the best part of the show, and they have great chemistry. But the relationship has run its course and I'm ready to see her with other men. Agree with points 6 and 7. Thank you. Good points.

Nadine

@TRUDY wrote the following beautiful post in response to this article below, "Some of the suggestions at the end of the post would change the show. She is a POWER player in DC. This is why DC is called the bubble at times in the media. Having her globetrotting with a passport sounds great…but for another show. Not this one. She is a crisis manager in DC, not Secretary of State. Also, the false equalization with Sally Hemmings is the most destructive part of this post. False equalization and lack of scale/context are severe problems in the media right now. (Cory Booker now knows better than anyone I bet.) There is a difference between being helpful (as she is a crisis manager in the show) and being The Help. There is difference between choosing a lover, even if not the most socially appropriate one (since he is married and the President) and being a slave. Their relationship is believable to me. There is love there. Their on-stream chemistry speaks volumes and is conveyed with varying temperament throughout the show. This is part of what holds the show together. Her reactions when she is not in control are perfect (i.e. the incident with Mellie in the season finale, her guilt and fear about the affair allowed her to let Mellie take control, which was the most accurate behavioral response in that situation). Who is in control of every single situation of their life and the life of others 100% of the time? (Contrary to popular belief, no one is.) The idea that she should be begs to suggest that she has to be a superwoman character to be a good one. That would be more destructive than anything else. The show has much room to get better but not a single show compares to it now. Whether it is the technical aspects (love what they are doing with lighting, camera angles [such a filming through glass/windows to create distance and closeness/secrecy at various moments; chronological asynchronization as what was used in the love scene between Fitz and Olivia] sound effects [the camera shutter noise between scene changes that alludes to the political image and literally the press], and soulful music choices), the entertainment aspects (great high and low emotional moments, great monologues [i.e. Cyrus and Fitz; Abby and Olivia] where the listener in fact has more impact than the speaker, the way the script is delivered with intensity that makes me think of DC, and the ongoing and resolved conflicts) or the sociopolitical ones (an interracial relationship that does not solely revolve around race as there are actually bigger fish to fry, a Black woman running business without being a total dictator—making very human mistakes, and a combination of political leanings [even the difference between Grant and his VP in terms of type of Republican], ages, and personalities meshing in the White House). I do agree that more Black women could be on Scandal, but for me, it is not about quantity of Black people on screen. (Tyler Perry does all Black work that I despise for lack of depth, caricature personalities, quickly recognizable stereotypes, class warfare, educational attainment warfare, colourism and religious indoctrination.) It is about overall technical, entertainment and sociopolitical quality that makes me like a show. Quality over quantity. I think the show has great quality and has huge possibilities to be even better. When Black characters can have good attributes and flaws without being caricatures or easily recognizable stereotypes–complexities and problems that usually only White characters are allowed to, I see it as progress. I do not see progress as perfection. I see progress as nuance and complexity." – TRUDY… beautifully insightful.

CareyCarey

OH HAPPY DAY… stay black, stay strong Ms. Tanya Steele! Woman, I have died and gone to heaven — when I opened my eyes there you were, holding me, rocking me, telling me everything was gonna be alright. WHOA! I can't believe S&A let you up in here with one of the most truthful articles of the year. Well, maybe I should qualify that. Listen, it's no secret that most of the visitors around here have been walking on eggs, trying not to mention any of the subjects that you so boldly laid on the table. Heck, I ain't got to tell you b/c coming in the house you knew what was behind the black door –> "Before you go sucking your teeth, rolling your eyes and screaming to the heavens, "why can't black people leave "successful" black folks alone?", hear me out" . Tanya, I fell out when I read that line. I said to myself "This woman is nobodies fool and she is not scared". Yep, in my best black-man-from-the-projects-vernacular — "I don't care what nobodies says, you done the damn thang. You laid this mfer out". Having said that, I have this sneaky feeling that you kind of held back. Yep, I don't believe you hit the "black voice" angle as hard as you really wanted to. I know… I know… some of us can't stand the cold hard truth — all in one post. Nevertheless, you got my lovin' feelin'

Nadine

Tanya, please re-watch the scene between OLIVIA and HUCK at GIDEON'S apartment at the 7:20 mark (http://www.hulu.com/watch/362308/scandal-grant-for-the-people) that you cite as a simple moment that spoke volumes. Before Olivia calls the police, she twice confirms with Huck if they're ready to go… Oliva, "…we ready?", HUCK, "We're good.", Olivia, "We sure?", Huck "We're good"… Huck was at fault.

Bklyn Negress

I find the comparison to Sally Hemings insulting. Of course there is a unique power dynamic between white men and black women but to equate a relationship between two intelligent, influential, powerful individuals to a master/slave relationship is ridiculous. I've been thinking the the Pope/Grant relationship is similar to GW Bush/Condi Rice, save for the sex — maybe.

eshowoman

Correction : ….two blacks per show and no racial strife

eshowoman

Like the writer I also have a degree in media studies, but I have also studied and taught black history, so I know the difference between a slave and a twentieth century black woman. Sally Hemmings was 7/8 white 14 year old slave sexual exploited by her owner. Oliva Pope is a power player who made a mistake falling in love with the most powerful man in the world. Unlike most representations of black woman, he actually loves he back. Olivia Pope is not the only one having an affair on this show. Amanda Tanner had two and the FLOTUS had one with a toe fetish porn star. Greys's Anatomy originally had more black characters but she could not get it produced. Shonda Rhines is a success because she plays within the rules, two black people per show and racial strife. If you want to blame anyone go back to school take a class on the political economy of the media and then assess who really makes the decisions about about black representations on TV. Rhines managed to pack a whole years worth of story telling into seven episodes and even though my personal taste is not melodrama I enjoyed it. Maybe next year we see Oliva's family, her friends and on vacation in Paris. One character cannot bear the burden of 65 years of black female representation. I would much rather watch Olivia Pope and teeth grindingly annoying Nurse Hawthorne instead of the complete erasure of black women from the TV. With the new acceptance of white & Hispanic love interests for black men this prospect is getting far more popular on the small screen.

Kimberly

While I was initially going to write this off as another "can black people ever appreciate anything" post, I will say you presented some very valid points that I agree with, and some that I don't. Yes, Olivia has become a bit passive in her role in the last few episodes, allowing others to call the shots and losing her stride when she needs it the most. This is not the empowering black woman that we all signed up to see. However, I would argue that this is a crucial part of the storyline. Every superwoman has a momentary lapse of judgement and for Olivia Pope, Fritz is the one who can have her thinking with her heart instead of her head. In the last few episodes we got a glimpse at how powerful their chemistry really is, and it gave us insight into just how much kryptonite Fritz is for Olivia. While I hate that the Presidents Wife was the one that had to pull it all together to keep them on top, the show made it clear that Olivia realized her need to refocus going forward. It was a great way for the show to not only show her vulnerability, but also what comes first, her, her career, and her A-squad.

Yolanda

The show is good and has gotten better with each episode. I do want Shonda to explore more of Olivia's past in the 2nd season and get Olivia a love interest with a future. I say bring in Boris Kodjoe or Michael Ealy if Common Law fails. I would love to see them on my t v every week. Pooch Hall is available now too. I wonder if he can do drama!

Trudy

Some of the suggestions at the end of the post would change the show. She is a POWER player in DC. This is why DC is called the bubble at times in the media. Having her globetrotting with a passport sounds great…but for another show. Not this one. She is a crisis manager in DC, not Secretary of State. Also, the false equalization with Sally Hemmings is the most destructive part of this post. False equalization and lack of scale/context are severe problems in the media right now. (Cory Booker now knows better than anyone I bet.) There is a difference between being helpful (as she is a crisis manager in the show) and being The Help. There is difference between choosing a lover, even if not the most socially appropriate one (since he is married and the President) and being a slave. Their relationship is believable to me. There is love there. Their on-stream chemistry speaks volumes and is conveyed with varying temperament throughout the show. This is part of what holds the show together. Her reactions when she is not in control are perfect (i.e. the incident with Mellie in the season finale, her guilt and fear about the affair allowed her to let Mellie take control, which was the most accurate behavioral response in that situation). Who is in control of every single situation of their life and the life of others 100% of the time? (Contrary to popular belief, no one is.) The idea that she should be begs to suggest that she has to be a superwoman character to be a good one. That would be more destructive than anything else.
The show has much room to get better but not a single show compares to it now. Whether it is the technical aspects (love what they are doing with lighting, camera angles [such a filming through glass/windows to create distance and closeness/secrecy at various moments; chronological asynchronization as what was used in the love scene between Fitz and Olivia] sound effects [the camera shutter noise between scene changes that alludes to the political image and literally the press], and soulful music choices), the entertainment aspects (great high and low emotional moments, great monologues [i.e. Cyrus and Fitz; Abby and Olivia] where the listener in fact has more impact than the speaker, the way the script is delivered with intensity that makes me think of DC, and the ongoing and resolved conflicts) or the sociopolitical ones (an interracial relationship that does not solely revolve around race as there are actually bigger fish to fry, a Black woman running business without being a total dictator—making very human mistakes, and a combination of political leanings [even the difference between Grant and his VP in terms of type of Republican], ages, and personalities meshing in the White House). I do agree that more Black women could be on Scandal, but for me, it is not about quantity of Black people on screen. (Tyler Perry does all Black work that I despise for lack of depth, caricature personalities, quickly recognizable stereotypes, class warfare, educational attainment warfare, colourism and religious indoctrination.) It is about overall technical, entertainment and sociopolitical quality that makes me like a show. Quality over quantity. I think the show has great quality and has huge possibilities to be even better. When Black characters can have good attributes and flaws without being caricatures or easily recognizable stereotypes–complexities and problems that usually only White characters are allowed to, I see it as progress. I do not see progress as perfection. I see progress as nuance and complexity.

(sorry if this posted more than once…web acting weird)

Trudy

Some of the suggestions at the end of the post would change the show. She is a POWER player in DC. This is why DC is called the bubble at times in the media. Having her globetrotting with a passport sounds great…but for another show. Not this one. She is a crisis manager in DC, not Secretary of State. Also, the false equalization with Sally Hemmings is the most destructive part of this post. False equalization and lack of scale/context are severe problems in the media right now. (Cory Booker now knows better than anyone I bet.) There is a difference between being helpful (as she is a crisis manager in the show) and being The Help. There is difference between choosing a lover, even if not the most socially appropriate one (since he is married and the President) and being a slave. Their relationship is believable to me. There is love there. Their on-stream chemistry speaks volumes and is conveyed with varying temperament throughout the show. This is part of what holds the show together. Her reactions when she is not in control are perfect (i.e. the incident with Mellie in the season finale—her guilt and fear about the affair allowed her to let Mellie take control—which was the most accurate behavioral response in that situation). Who is in control of every single situation of their life and the life of others 100% of the time? (Contrary to popular belief—no one is.) The idea that she should be begs to suggest that she has to be a superwoman character to be a good one. That would be more destructive than anything else.
The show has much room to get better but not a single show compares to it now. Whether it is the technical aspects (love what they are doing with lighting, camera angles [such a filming through glass/windows to create distance and closeness/secrecy at various moments; chronological asynchronization as what was used in the love scene between Fitz and Olivia] sound effects [the camera shutter noise between scene changes that alludes to the political image and literally the press], and soulful music choices), the entertainment aspects (great high and low emotional moments, great monologues [i.e. Cyrus & Fitz; Abby and Olivia] where the listener in fact has more impact than the speaker, the way the script is delivered with intensity that makes me think of DC, and the ongoing and resolved conflicts) or the sociopolitical ones (an interracial relationship that does not solely revolve around race as there are actually bigger fish to fry, a Black woman running business without being a total dictator—making very human mistakes, and a combination of political leanings [even the difference between Grant and his VP in terms of type of Republican], ages, and personalities meshing in the White House). I do agree that more Black women could be on Scandal, but for me, it is not about quantity of Black people on screen. (Tyler Perry does all Black work that I despise for lack of depth, caricature personalities, quickly recognizable stereotypes, class warfare, educational attainment warfare, colourism and religious indoctrination.) It is about overall technical, entertainment and sociopolitical quality that makes me like a show. Quality over quantity. I think the show has great quality and has huge possibilities to be even better. When Black characters can have good attributes and flaws without being caricatures or easily recognizable stereotypes–complexities and problems that usually only White characters are allowed to, I see it as progress. I do not see progress as perfection. I see progress as nuance and complexity.

Trudy

Some of the suggestions at the end of the post would change the show. She is a POWER player in DC. This is why DC is called the "bubble" at times in the media. Having her globetrotting with a passport sounds great…but for another show. Not this one. She is a crisis manager in DC, not Secretary of State. Also, the false equalization with Sally Hemmings is the most destructive part of this post. False equalization and lack of scale/context are severe problems in the media right now. (Cory Booker now knows better than anyone I bet.) There is a difference between being helpful (as she is a crisis manager in the show) and being “The Help.” There is difference between choosing a lover, even if not the most socially appropriate one (since he is married and the President) and being a slave. Their relationship is believable to me. There is love there. Their on-stream chemistry speaks volumes and is conveyed with varying temperament throughout the show. This is part of what holds the show together. Her reactions when she is not in control are perfect (i.e. the incident with “Mellie” in the season finale—her guilt and fear about the affair allowed her to let “Mellie” take control—which was the most accurate behavioral response in that situation). Who is in control of every single situation of their life and the life of others 100% of the time? (Contrary to popular belief—no one is.) The idea that she should be begs to suggest that she has to be a “superwoman” character to be a good one. That would be more destructive than anything else.

The show has much room to get better but not a single show compares to it now. Whether it is the technical aspects (love what they are doing with lighting, camera angles [such a filming through glass/windows to create distance and closeness/secrecy at various moments; chronological asynchronization as what was used in the love scene between “Fitz” and “Olivia”] sound effects [the camera shutter noise between scene changes that alludes to the political “image” and literally the press], and soulful music choices), the entertainment aspects (great high and low emotional moments, great monologues [i.e. “Cyrus’” and “Abby’s”] where the listener in fact has more impact than the speaker, the way the script is delivered with intensity that makes me think of DC, and the ongoing and resolved conflicts) or the sociopolitical ones (an interracial relationship that doesn't solely revolve around race as there are actually bigger fish to fry, a Black woman running business without being a total dictator—making very human mistakes, and a combination of political leanings [even the difference between “Grant” and his VP in terms of ‘type’ of Republican], ages, and personalities meshing in the White House). I do agree that more Black women could be on Scandal, but for me, it is not about quantity of Black people on screen. (Tyler Perry does “all Black” work that I despise for lack of depth, caricature personalities, quickly recognizable stereotypes, class warfare, educational attainment warfare, colourism and religious indoctrination.) It is about overall technical, entertainment and sociopolitical quality that makes me like a show. Quality over quantity. I think the show has great quality and has huge possibilities to be even better. When Black characters can have good attributes and flaws without being caricatures or easily recognizable stereotypes–complexities and problems that usually only White characters are allowed to, I see it as progress. I don’t see progress as perfection. I see progress as nuance and complexity.

blaqbird

Wow…this…I just…can't… This was one of the most ridiculous and unnecessary articles on S&A in a long time. I won't even get into the reasons why: Misha; Statum106 and District Diva did that for me. Tanya, in the future, please don't go around declaring how you've got this "sharp, critical eye" via NYU's graduate film program. It's not a good look, especially when you end up with something as ludicrous as this. Smh….

MT

I agree with your analysis. I've been craving a Black female lead in a drama and I was happy to hear about one being created, but when I heard it was Shonda, I knew her race wouldn't matter. Shonda tries to be colorblind and I find that problematic because it doesn't reflect reality. We try to suspend belief when dealing with 'soap operas' (which this show is becoming), but racial dynamics between Black women and White men cannot go ignored, especially when he is the president of the united states and married to a White woman. Black women are highly politicized, from our hair to our weight to our marriageability. It's odd to me that race hasn't entered the show's equations at all.

I'm also extremely disappointed that they are isolating her from having a back story. This is such a standard for Black female characters; we know next to nothing about them that doesn't involve their sex lives (or lack thereof).

Im also fascinated by how harsh she is with women, but she seems to be coming around… and its only because she's now a woman scorned.

B

I'm sorry. I simply can't stand this show and I keep looking for a good analysis highlighting all the many priblems with the show. Kerry's constant overacting. Diaz's overacting, not to mention the overacting of the guy who plays Cyrus. The fact that the writers turned the one gay character into a psycho woman killer. The lack of believability of the "love" between Fitz and Olivia: he is a narcissist who saw something forbidden and decided he had to have it and eat his cake too, while she is simply a strong career woman but generally a weak woman willing to be some man's side piece (at least until the shit hits the fan). The fact that the writers are so unsure of Olivia's strength that they have to constantly make characters repeat verbally how strong she is in every episode. The childish behavior of all the characters other than the VP and Flotus. The wholly improbable plot threads. Elementary level writing and storytelling. Apparently there is only one black career woman in DC. I could go on, but i'll just finish with one last statement: if this show is the best that we black women can do then we are in a LOT of trouble.

misha

"Having gone through NYU's graduate film program…">>>> Is that correct, Ms. Steele? Well then, it's disappointing that you failed to realize what Shonda and co. were trying to accomplish by having Mellie "school" Olivia, in particular. Olivia is the lead character, the "heroine" of the show, yes but she is also guilty of having an affair with a married man. Thus, she has to pay some price for her actions and part of that was her getting "schooled" by the wife of the husband she cheated with. What purpose would it have served for Olivia to put The First Lady "in her place"…other than to make Olivia look inconsiderate, unapologetic and thus, unsympathetic? The goal, of course, is to present Olivia as a character the audience can root for and you don't undermine that by never depicting her as vulnerable or wrong or unashamed.

david

This is ridiculous!
I swear we are NEVER satisfied!

Priss

Rolling my eyes at — "Having gone through NYU's graduate film program, one comes out with a very sharp, critical eye. "

Akimbo

Points 1 through 7 are cool, basic, and things that I think will naturally occur on the show but are you really troubled by Huck's stopping Olivia from calling the police? If she thought she could do the clean up by herself, then she wouldn't have called her TEAM. Team, as in she's not superwoman, she's the captain of a squad of very talented people who all bend to her will/defer to her. And I know you're singling out Columbus Short, but no one on Olivia's squad has been developed much, especially that obnoxious squawking red head. We have the tiniest amount of info about their pasts, but the only people with family and lives thus far are the clients of the week. Guillermo Diaz got a little shine because he unveiled his "special skill." Maybe that's how everyone else's story will be unfurled as well. The show's not the best in the world, but I feel like some of the criticism is reaching.

Afia

This is the second time of seen Olivia Pope compared to Sally Hemings and I'm still disgusted. She had a consensual relationship. She was not a slave. She was not owned. Let's get that out of the way.

And secondly, she is flawed. She damn well should have shame in from of Millie. She deserves to be in a corner head bowed because she was having an affair with her husband. She should be humbled. She should feel powerless because she is suffering the damned consequences.

As for Huck, he was right. He has a certain expertise that Olivia lacks. Clearly he respects Oliva and he is beyond loyal. He listens to her. And she knows when to listen to him.

I would like to see more from this character but we got 7 episodes. So let's stop the foolish nitpicking and actually attempt to be constructive.

Hassan Fvckry (@DLYDJ)

I'm just getting into this show, but spoilers aside, I think the show has some legs. They just got to show 'em off some more. Lol —HF

misha

Well, Ms. Steele, I agree on some of your points and couldn't disagree more on others. I'll start with what I agree with. Yes, Olivia is underwritten. I made that point myself in the last Scandal thread. And it is partly because she is underwritten that I find it difficult to like or relate to the character. So I'll agree with you on points 1-4. But you completely lose me with this here: "Squash the relationship with the president. It's done. It's not that interesting or believable." >>>> Say what now, Ms. Steele?! LOL I'm sorry but the subplot between Liv and Fitz is the most interesting/believable part of the show for this viewer. (The weekly cases would be the silliest, most unrealistic aspect of the show). Not only do Tony and Kerry have amazing chemistry but the love affair involving their characters is the only part of the show that isn't lacking, IMO. And quite frankly, it is the only time I find myself really liking Olivia Pope, as she becomes much more human/relatable in Fitz's presence. Take away that element of the show, and I'm afraid Scandal no longer becomes watchable for me. Ok, you may be thinking, "well what about Kerry? Don't you think she can carry the show without Tony?" Umm…NO! LOL Sorry but Kerry has failed to convince me that she has the gravitas for the role…that she is leading woman material at all. And don't even get me started on some of her acting choices! So yeah, getting rid of that relationship would further expose Kerry's acting flaws the show's overall flaws.

sandra

The first season (comprised of only seven episodes) served as an introduction. The show has great promise. More characters will be introduced. Be patient! Why do people tune in to Scandal expecting a history lesson. Go to the History Channel for that! Based on her interviews, Shonda has a clear idea of who she is and is aware of the social impact of her shows. There is a reason why she is so successful.

juliette

YES YES YES TO ALL of this! The "one black woman per show" – though standard tv formula these days -drives me crazy and I really did expect more from Shonda after reading all the hype about the show. I'm also not a fan of the black woman as jump off though I get it in the context of the show. Now that it's been renewed, I am so hoping that we can see some of the complexity and depth discussed in the comments because I do think the show has promise. Thanks for a GREAT analysis – well done.

Dankwa Brooks

While I agree with most of what Tanya Steele said I do have some caveats of my own. Kerry Washingtin and Tony Goldwyn has some of the most amazing chemistry I have seen on TV in a long time. Most of the time it never rings true or authentic. And I have to repeat what I heard on a podcast (Cinema In Noir) that the POTUS didn't just use Pope as a jump off, he was IN LOVE with Olivia. Big difference.

I also love all seven of those thoughts. Yes her work is her life, but gotdamn what about her family?

I would like it to be less sensational and yes "soapy", but that's the vision of the show creator and as a filmmaker I choose not to question such things. It's her show not mine and it's my choice to watch it or not.

As someone who has been a fan of Kerry Washijgton's work from everything I saw her in THIS is the best damn performance I ever seen her give. Period.

I'll look forward to seeing what comes from Season Two.

DCDistrictDiva

wow COMPLETELY disagree with the author of this. 1) I am THRILLED that a person who had an illicit affair with SOMEONE ELSE'S HUSBAND would show some remorse and shame for it in the wife's presence. I already hate it when in scripts and real life people like to pretend that the wife being a terrible person is a good enough excuse for affairs to occur. So the fact that Shonda Rhimes wrote Olivia to be a very strong intelligent woman who is also capable of shame at her mistakes made me love her even more. 2) If the President of the United States risks his life, safety, and presidency to come to your home, it might be important and you might want to let him in. Olivia has very much called the shots in the relationship. She ended it, for one. She quit her job and started her own firm and she also has been very quick to shut him down throughout the series. The only time she didn't was when he randomly stopped by her house. Considering the context, she was right to let him in. 3) Huck did not undermine her decision to call the police, he just said grab the cell phone before they leave, which was SMART and led them to the killer. That's why their a team, but it's been quite clear that Huck would kill or NOT kill at Olivia's command. She is in complete control of that office but it is not a dictatorship. They are all there because they add some sort of skill. Except that Quinn person. I don't know what her function is. 4) And if they're "talking to fast" she should listen a little faster and then she can catch-up. :)

statum106

The Oliva Pope character, though the driving force of the series, is a flawed (human) one. While she has the swagger that laid out the negative scenario that awaited Amanda Tanner and forced a South American leader to slink back to his country, her affair and continued attraction to the president she helped get elected, is her weakness. That weakness is what kept her off the top of her game throughout the remaining episodes of the season. Observe the difference throughout the series when she and her team have their "subplot crisis of the week." She's fully in control (even when she isn't).

You talk about Huck undermining Olivia (and brought up the wig from the previous episode- which makes you feel he should have no standing with her or the audience), when in fact, finding the phone is what saves them all from being arrested. In the end, he helps her and her team (who are loyal to Olivia for various reasons) evade prosecution. Olivia still called the cops and her working/personal relationship with Huck never changed. He still deferred to her when offering to kill the VP's Chief of Staff. Remember, Captain Kirk had McCoy and Spock for counsel before making the big decisions.

As for being dressed down by the first lady, it was necessary from the first lady's POV. Given she had full knowledge of her husband's affair with Olivia and his continued affection towards her and the benefits it offers to his ability to function as POTUS. The first lady and Pope also school the President as to what he will do from that point on and Pope effectively ends their romance. This can lead to a new love interest next season.

I'm sure we'll see more of Olivia's backstory, friends and relatives in season 2. We'll also see more of whatshisname's backstory as well (once they deal with Quinn's past). As for travel outside the US, the show has a budget, so don't be surprised if Montreal doubles for France.

TamiSawyer

Good points. I was slowly lost the last few episodes. No one had any control but the president and his wife. Even Cyrus lost it. Olivia has too many look sad and have tears in her eyes moments. Why does Shondra love to repeat stuff? Gladiators in Suits. Trust my gut. Etc.
And the whole next season will focus on who is Quinn. Where'd that come from?
And I'm glad I'm not the only person who thinks Columbo Short's delivery is annoying.

Ps. If by Gods you mean Dr. Nasir…then yes

Erica B.

Great article. But as an avid viewer of Ms. Rhimes other two series ("Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice"), it seems that she has set a precedent in allowing other characters among her ensemble casts to assume the lead during the season. On "Grey's", the storyline does not always revolve around Meredith Grey. Nor on "Private Practice" does it always center around Addison Montgomery. I find ALL of the characters on "Scandal" to be equally as intriguing as "Olivia Pope" and would love to see each one assume the lead throughout the next season. Especially Columbus Short. :-)

tina

5 and 6 my thoughts exactly! I think what you saw in the White house in the last episode with O Pope more quiet and standing down instead of running this town like kanye, was Shonda's way of letting us know that O Pope is letting go of the power she had in there….aka leaving the president for good and letting Mrs President run the show as she see fit. Hopefully next season Pope'll be more in control of her personal life like she was with her professional life. I was never a fan of the love story between her and Fitz, he made her weak, I'm glad to see her hand in her badge at the end….I'm stoked about next season!

DB Smith

Funny, I used "Sally Heming" comparison just yesterday. I knew it was something that could be done, and I love your suggestions on how to salvage such a promising, positive

Evelyn

I have not seen this yet mainly because KW "overacts" to me but from your analysis maybe this time I will experience her differently. I do appreciate your commentary for sure as I was also hesitant to watch because it smacked of "soap opera" in the description. Thanks for the information, I must admit it did make me want to watch it at least.

AI

If one more person compares Olivia Pope to Sally Hemmings!!!!! Lawdt today. Hemmings was a teenaged slave without the capacity to give consent. Pope is a power player who made the decision to be the other woman despite otherwise impeccable common sense and who has to deal with the repercussions — including this awkward scene that you're describing.

I'm sorry, I just don't see that scene with POTUS and FLOTUS as her cowering like a slave girl. She was grappling with the decision of whether to follow her heart's desires, which she knows to be "wrong" (so yes, that may include some shame… but hell, she had an affair with a married man, what do you expect?) and her career (save the president from himself at all costs). The result of the emotional struggle of that scene is her doing exactly what you seem to be advocating — being smart and putting her career before her heart. Like, I don't think it's realistic or advisable for her to be this cold as ice dominator through the whole show. Granted, I agree that it's time to move on to a different storyline, but let's not impose unrealistic expectations on the one we're on before it closes completely.

Marie

Agreed. Every time she mentions her "gut" feelings (and someone else in the office would say how great they are) they would prove to be wrong. "Quinn" constantly shows her up in that regard. I will say that she and the President have chemistry, but I'm not with the whole "Black woman as jump off". Boo.

Also, where are all the other Black women? This is a problem on every Shonda Rhimes show. One Black woman per show. The writer, creator and producer are all Black and we only get one Black woman in a show set in DC? Especially when the main character owns her own company? The heck?! I think episode 3 had a Black forsenic person and schoolteacher. Otherwise, that was it. Is someone telling Shonda she can't have other Black female actresses or is she doing that on her own? Either way, it stinks.

Jasmine

Can we stop with the comparison to Sally Hemings? Sally Hemings was an underage slave (13 or 14 years old) who was raped, Olivia Pope and the president are two adults engaging in a consensual relationship. There is a big difference. The only commonality is that a black woman is with a white president. Calling Olivia Pope a modern- day Sally Hemings could not be any further from the truth.

black

"..Not since 1974 has a TV drama had a black female lead character…."
not quite.
I can think of one now, at the top of my head, with SouthLAnd and Regina King.

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