Scandal is Back!

Another school year, another season of Scandal to get us through it. Shonda Rhimes’ political drama premiered its 3rd season last night to its highest numbers yet. The episode was filled with its usual twists, turns, and quick dialogue. We learned that Fitz leaked Olivia’s name to the public so that Mellie, who exposed Fitz’s affair to the public last season, had no more cards to play. Olivia, oblivious to who leaked her name, got a visit from her estranged father, who works for the government agency Jake Ballard works for and Huck used to work for. They like locking people who disobey orders into holes. Cyrus, a surrogate father figure for Olivia, also attempted to save her from the scandal, but as Olivia should know by now Cyrus is not someone to be trusted. He nearly turned his back on Olivia, but ironically Mellie came up with a plan to sacrifice an innocent white house adviser who they found footage of calling President Fitz hot. At the end of episode Olivia, Queen of white-hat-dom, takes the case of the ousted white house adviser who just saved Olivia’s career and reputation.

For me, the most interesting parts of the episode were the interactions between Olivia and her father. The last two seasons, we’ve come to understand Olivia’s complexities. She shuts crises down on a daily basis, but has weak spot for a certain leader of the free world. This is the first time we get a sense of Olivia Pope before she becomes the Olivia Pope. She grew up quite privileged, but with a distraught family life. Her mother, who warned her to stay away from her father, died when Olivia was 12 years of age. Perhaps in an attempt to avoid her borderline abusive father, Olivia spent the rest of her upbringing in boarding schools. She was also a legacy Princeton undergraduate. 

The exchange I want to focus on comes when Shonda not only gives us a peak into Olivia’s childhood household, but Shonda gives America an insight into all black households in America. While scolding Olivia for bringing this scandal upon her self, Olivia and her father have this exchange:

 

Rowan: How many times have I told you, you have to be what? You have to be what?

Olivia: Twice as good.

Rowan: WHAT?!

Olivia: TWICE AS GOOD.

Rowan: Twice as good as them to get HALF of what they have.

In other words, sh** got real. To be totally honest, I’m tired of the melodrama and laborious dialogue of Scandal, but I watch for moments like these. Let us not forget that Scandal is a groundbreaking show because the main character is a black woman, and what makes it worthwhile is the fact that the writers don’t ignore that fact. This scene reveals the weight of Olivia’s situation. Firstly, she had an affair with the president. We saw in this episode how easily they could paint her as the opportunistic whore, wiping away her identity as a successful and intelligent career woman. On top of that, she a black woman, and because of that she has even more to lose. As the exchange tells us, Olivia has had to work tremendously hard to get to where she is, and this affair jeopardizes all the work she has put in; and to continue to keep it real there are not very many comeback stories of black public figures who have fallen from grace.  All of that is what is at stake in this episode and every episode of Scandal, and I don’t think blaming another woman will totally let Olivia off the hook. That would be too easy. Only time will tell I guess.

 

Watch out for more information about HCP live tweeting the upcoming episodes.