WHAT’S WRONG WITH SCANDAL?

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[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap]fter writing a great critique on the TV show, Scandal in the Custodian think-tank end of year review, we commissioned Aisha Modibbo to write a lengthier and more detailed version. Find it below;

I have a lot of issues with Scandal at this point but there is a hexad of points that function as the main source of my headaches.

1. Scandal, a show that had the potential to be amazing became a complete trash soap opera, turning shock into a sport. This is just incongruous seeing as Shonda Rhimes wrote a show (Private Practice) that made fun of telanovelas in an episode. I loved Scandal before this season but unfortunately it’s just a big mess now. I could feel the quality deteriorating in the first episode when Cyrus said, “Yes, but I’m your monster.” Truth is, they have always had lines as such but it was at that point that the lines stopped being amusing and started to irk me.

The episode was good otherwise and I particularly liked the part Eli Pope yelled at his daughter but from then on, the mediocrity was palpable. The cheesy scripts are all we get this season as evidenced in “presidential balls” and in the bomb episode. You would think that an entire episode centred on the main character’s life being threatened would be memorable. Scandal has used the shock narrative to the point of tedium. Every episode is either marked by a killing or rape.

2. Mellie puts us through an emotional zinger. One moment, we’re feeling sorry that she has to share her husband with someone else and then we discover that she was a member of the cabal who rigged the election in his favour and whatever sympathy we feel evaporates. Then we see that she’s been raped in what was her moment of dealing with the devil in order to ease her no good husband’s path. I am fully aware that this is an extension of the theme that shock has been overused but it is also a great reminder of the need to look at all dimensions instead of narrowing in on one. After watching Mellie get raped I really hoped it wasn’t just a cheap ploy used to gain sympathy and I have been let down. It was just written in so the viewers would start to like Mellie it seems. There is always a possibility that they’ll get around to it later but we have had three episodes since then and I am not encouraged. Is Fitz the father of that child or not?

3. Shonda is experienced with teaching through her TV shows so I don’t know what’s happening here. With Grey’s Anatomy she taught us how to be more tolerant of issues that were then rather unorthodox when she portrayed Christina’s abortions and Callie’s homosexuality. In Private Practice she portrayed Charlotte’s rape expertly. However, she falls short when it comes to Scandal. I just feel like she is wasting so many opportunities. Every single character is a villain and there is no character development. When asked, Shonda said she wanted to create flawed roles so people could relate to them. Who on earth relates to these people? The characters have all become caricatures of themselves. It is all so messy! When you’re juggling that many balls at the same time, for sure some storylines are going to get dropped. Are they just going to forget that Quinn is actually Lindsay? That Fitz got shot? That he killed Verna? That Harrison has no backstory? And these are only the lost season 2 storylines. I pray that before they get back in February someone can explain to me why Mama Pope went through all that effort of finding Olivia, hustling to get on a flight to Hong Kong, acquiring 2/3 deaths on her hands along the way JUST so she could stay in Washington where she was in the first place.

4. I have noticed patterns with Huck and Quinn, Olivia and Fitz and Abby and David. Huck and Quinn keep torturing each other. Abby goes to David to ask for his help and he’s reluctant. And as for Olivia and Fitz, there is nothing worse than their phone calls. I am tired of Olivia Pope taking Fitz back for dumb reasons. This season alone she took him back because she missed vetting his jokes and again because he built her a house. I would love it if people stopped saying Kerry Washington’s role is empowering black women because all I see is a woman who cannot get anything done herself and instead turns to men. Olivia asked her mum to let her do the job she’s “good” at, then goes ahead and hides in a corner so she could call Fitz. Again. She either does that or gets David, Harrison or Huck to do the work. She has no real influence! She just exploits that of all the men around her. The show is a love story between a useless, white, married man and a woman who is stupidly and unexplainably devoted to him.

Olivia sleeping with Fitz while she still thought he killed her mother was the most disgusting moment in TV history. Both Mellie and Olivia are too good for Fitz from the looks of things so the writers need to show us why two intelligent, accomplished women would fall for a man as incompetent and unpleasant as Fitzgerald Grant because I don’t see it.

5. That’s not to say that it’s only terrible although most of the best moments are from previous seasons. Like the diamond in the rough, some parts shine bright. Bellamy Young who plays Mellie Grant is one. She has the best monologues! All of the show’s monologues are trite but Bellamy is an accomplished enough actress to pull it off, I guess. It’s in her delivery. Her drunken performance was exceptional. So were her “marriage is pretend”, “I can be honest. I can also lie” and the time she told Fitz he had become just like Big Jerry. It certainly beats Olivia’s 54321, Fitz’s “you control me” or any of Cyrus’s emotional abuse. I’ll even go as far as saying they’re comparable to “I’m not Meredith Grey” “pick me, choose me, love me” and “you happened to me”. I’m comparing Scandal to Grey’s Anatomy obviously because it’s the same writer so we can tell what she is capable of. With Grey’s Anatomy she struck gold. With Scandal however, she has shown she is comfortable writing ordinary stories too. This season’s Scandal has been incredibly painful to watch. I’m pretty sure a broken jaw is a kinder companion as you pave your way on the path to want to kill yourself.

6. With the ridiculous, fast-paced, roll-my-eyes, repetitive dialogue and the off-point storylines, I feel like I am watching a never-ending Tyler Perry movie. It would be laughably bad except it’s not funny it’s heartbreaking. I have tried but I can’t even intellectualise the show anymore. I can’t defend it anymore. It has in it all the things I stopped watching other shows for.

Jake (hide and seek champion) wants to turn around and run B6-13 like Nikita decided to run Division and Mama Pope came back from the dead like Bart Bass. I really hope they turn things around before next season. They still have time. Their problem is the double-edged sword that comes with a show’s success. They need the success to stay on air but when they get it they change because of this irrational desire to want to please everybody. It’s why I have respect for Game of Thrones. They’re happy to kill off our favourite characters because they’re not doing any of it merely for the sake of delighting the fans, they’re doing it for the story and that’s what I want for Scandal. I get that TV shows serve the purpose of entertainment but when the writers and producers make that their priority and their motive, their work tends to lose value. Give Scandal back its meaning and credibility! Thank you

2 Comments

  1. Toni says:

    This is perfect. All my worst bits.
    Scandal has definitely deteriorated in quality. It’s like the plot got absorbed by ‘shock’ as you stated.
    Although I must say that killing of James was probably the boldest move, he was a victim, even when he did wrong, so he was loved by us all.

  2. I could kiss you says:

    because this review is very much on-point! I’m tired of Olivia and her weak ass. And like you, I no longer understand what Shonda Rhimes is getting at. I stopped watching the show right around the time Olivia slept with Fitz in that house in Vermont. My sister, a person can only take so much insult from TV writers! Then I heard that James was killed by none other than Jake and I just knew that I cut my loses at the right time. Good luck to the Scandal team but I think that this show might be running away from them.

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