While I am fairly up on entertainment and had certainly heard two years' worth of buzz regarding the Shonda Rhimes drama (I love her work; having seen every episode of Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice), I didn't actually start watching until the current season (the third) and now there's no going back. Though actually, there's lots of going back. After the first episode of this season, I was desperate to see what I had missed, so I downloaded the first two seasons from iTunes, and I've been frantically catching up.
This show, however isn't for everybody. The following are my top five signs that Scandal might not be for you:
1. You like predictability. While occasionally I can see what's coming (I mean, I totally knew that aspiring politician was secretly with his brother's wife...which probably means that Shonda and the writers wanted me to get that from the start) there are tons of surprises that you truly cannot see coming, from the trivial to the downright shocking.
2. You want linear, step-by-step plots. Scandal is not about keeping things in bland chronological order, though I'm sure it's not helping that I'm going back and forth between the current season and past seasons, all of which include flashbacks. It's just a big, beautiful scandalous blur. I would love to know how far ahead the master plan for the show was written, as the frequent flashbacks tie in so seamlessly it feels like it was all scripted before the show ever began.
Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope
3. You want to know who you're rooting for. Sure, Olivia Pope is the heroine...but man, can she mess up sometimes. And how is it possible as a viewer to fall totally in love with the guy who's having an affair? In most films and shows, it works if you hate the one-dimensional wife...but you just can't hate Mellie either, and she's definitely multi-dimensional. You also just can't hate the guy who is able to torture a close friend by removing her teeth. Seriously. Who's right and who's wrong? Everyone. Every character is a bad guy. Every characters is a good guy. Just like real life.
Tony Goldwyn as President Fitz Grant and Bellamy Young as First Lady Mellie Grant
4. You want actors to be on red-carpet pedestals, inaccessible to their fans. This cast live-tweets during the broadcasts, which is a major draw for viewers. I wondered if it was a contractual obligation, but I think that would spoil the effect, and none of it seems forced. I mean actors know that fans = ratings = contract renewals = more work = more money, but I truly don't get the sense that they're interacting for that reason. This cast really seems to appreciate what they're a part of, and they love the "gladiators" who share it with them. Even in interviews they appear to have fun together.
(Please note that Kerry Washington can sure handle the red carpet too. I've heard her mention a few times that she realized quickly that her red-carpet and editorial presence is her marketing department, and that philosophy is certainly working for her. On a related note, don't you think mom-to-be Kerry would make an excellent addition to my celebrity Momterviews here at This Mom Loves? What do you think, KW?)
And by the way - the acting on this show is incredible. Not only Kerry, but the whole ensemble: Tony Goldwyn, Bellamy Young (who is absolutely brilliant as First Lady Mellie Grant), Guillermo Diaz, Jeff Perry...I feel like I want to just list the whole cast, as they really are that good.
Fitz and Olivia
5. You like to feel comfortable while you watch TV. If you don't want to digest smart dialogue, squirm because you can relate exactly to a scene, feel a rush of emotions as you love/hate/fear someone...then don't watch Scandal. The dialogue is incredibly sharp, with episode titles (if not all, I haven't analyzed completely) being pulled from actual lines from the show. (I mean really, "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot"?) If your comfort zone only has room for nice old-fashioned characters, this show is also not for you. Color, gender, sexual orientation...who cares, with characters like these? Being a powerful black woman is not "the story", nor is a gay couple adopting a baby. But they're IN the story, which to me has a much more profound effect.
Olivia and Abby Whelan, played by Darby Stanchfield
Catching up on Scandal in bed has not exactly been helping with my sleep. Not only am I staying up late, but I have scenes going through my head while I'm trying to nod off and characters are even visiting me in my dreams. Well, a certain character. I'll just leave it at that. But I'm sorry, Mellie. And Olivia. See, I don't even know who to apologize to!
Season 3 of Scandal on ABC resumes next month. My PVR is set.
(Images used are courtesy of ABC. And by "courtesy of", I mean that I am borrowing their promotional shots and hoping they don't mind, since I am certainly trying to promote!)