May 4, 2013

If you are not on Facebook or Twitter while watching Scandal, I would encourage you to check out the posts from time to time, perhaps during the commercial breaks.  This latest episode brought about some interesting comments for sure, with the line of the night being "if you want me, earn me!"  Everybody wondered what Fitz was going to do.  I think that a lot of people feel conflicted when watching the show.  They want Olivia to win but not to win as a mistress.  Why even think that deep about it when it is just a TV show?  Trust me, I wish it wasn't that deep and I guess it really does not have to be. However, when you consider the struggle and the frustration over the images of black women in media/entertainment, to finally have a black leading lady, we can't help but be that deep.  Plus, I do not know that we should throw the "social responsibility" talk out of the window because Shonda Rhimes has produced yet another hit show that captivates us.  I must admit though I would like nothing more than to veg out, watch the show, and not think twice about it.

So yeah we want Olivia to win but not as a mistress.  I think most people agree that she and Fitz genuinely love each other.  His marriage was built on the wrong things and he became enthralled with another woman.  But because his situation is so frickin' complicated, I can't possibly see how Liv wins in the end.  Ms. Rhimes is the writing expert and I hope she has a way out that ends well for Liv.  Right now though, I just can't see it.  So that leaves many of us conflicted.  We are fascinated with her on one hand and then frustrated with her on the other.  Kerry Washington said that she loved the fact that Olivia Pope was not perfect.  She has flaws and was vulnerable.  I do not know that any of us expect perfection but why this flaw?  To me it is not a flaw, but a stain.  No matter how sharp and lovely, right or wrong, the stain is glaring and what most people zero in on.  Personally, I wonder how the show continues once the biggest scandal is public knowledge.  No other scandal compares.  Even now, no one really wants to see her clients and their scandals.  The prevailing story is Liv and Fitz.  So we see Liv in her weakness now more than in her strength as fixer.  And for all of the progress of being the rare black leading lady, the ultimate image portrayed is still one we want to get away from.  The image of the high-powered, SINGLE, career woman.  The image of the alpha-chick (stealing from Sophia Nelson) outwardly strong but inwardly broken and unhappy.  The image of the breathtaking black woman that is so brilliant that people seek her out and pay her top dollar, but dumb when it comes to men.  The image of the fixer that seriously needs fixing.  The image of black woman as "not a role model." The image of the black woman yet again losing.  It is unnerving and ironic to have these images perpetuated when the inspiration for Olivia Pope, Judy Smith is in fact married with two adult children.  Why was this story line chosen?  I would have been just as drawn in as a viewer to see the brilliant woman win on all fronts, especially when that is indeed happening.

Instead the role of the mistress is being glorified.  I was surprised to see the promo for a new show on ABC entitled Mistresses.  I haven't looked into the background of the show.  This is mere speculation on my part.  As far as I know it is not a Shonda Rhimes show.  But is this new show partly inspired by the love/empathy for Olivia Pope?  It would not surprise me at all if the creators of this new show decided to craft this show because the success of Scandal is evidence that viewers are not as bothered by the idea of mistresses.  Once again to some it may not be that deep and in a perfect world it should not be that deep.  But we all know the influence media/entertainment have on culture and perceptions.  Life imitates art; art imitates life. We all know that adultery takes place and there are mistresses, but will they now be looked at favorably?  Or will the social responsibility aspect of this be the fact that the side chicks don't win?  Will Ms. Rhimes follow the Denzel Washington philosophy that the bad guys have to suffer the consequences?  If I remember right, Denzel said that his Training Day character had to die (that may not have been the original plan) because he was such a corrupt character that he could not possibly win in the end.  Will that be the fate of Olivia Pope?  If my thesis is correct that we want her to win but not as a mistress, then we should be satisfied either way, right?  What do you think?  Are you conflicted about Olivia Pope?


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