Beware I am venting.
I am officially tired of the “what if Scandal… ” scenarios. What if President Grant was Black? What if Kerry Washington played Mellie and a White actress played Olivia Pope? Would Black women still watch in earnest?
Why does any of that matter? Why do we continue to have these discussions after three seasons? Why do you continue to care? If you don’t watch the show, you won’t ever understand. But since this keeps showing up on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram timelines, I will give you some insight to help possibly answer your questions.
Please know that I am not speaking for all Black women but I am a Black female gladiator (I’ll address that later).
First, I think Shonda Rhimes is brilliant. And as a regular viewer of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “The Practice” (before it ended) I am both a supporter and a fan. She is a gifted writer who keeps you on the edge of your seat week after week with compelling storylines… and she’s Black.
Second, I think Judy Smith is a trailblazer. To have a professional career that can provide — even in the smallest inkling — a backdrop to some of the storylines on “Scandal” is amazing and I am in awe. She is definitely at the top of her game and she’s Black.
Third, and pay attention, the show revolves around a Black, female lead. Something that has not happened since Diahann Caroll. Finally, we — as Black women — are not the backdrop to someone else’s center stage…we ARE the center stage. We are not playing the drug addict, the prostitute, the downtrodden woman who is overlooked by society and falls into societal ills. In “Scandal” we are viewed as a woman of power, a woman that has many intricate layers to her. A woman who is loved by many, feared by some and revered overall. And for us, for Black women, that’s rare.
But please know, that if Olivia Pope was not Black, I would still be a huge fan of the show because it is a brilliant collaboration of actors who present lines that are sometimes works of verbal art that can leave you speechless and reaching for the remote so you can relive that minute once again.
And for those who challenge the show based upon the decisions made by the lead character, I provide these thoughts for you to ponder.
The character of Olivia Pope is a complicated, sensitive, proud, defiant, flawed, overworked, misunderstood woman who takes no prisoners, fights for her team (called gladiators), has major family issues and a way of drawing in any man she wants. She makes mistakes. She is not perfect and is not a role model (if your kids watch scandal …well that’s another blog post).
But here is the kicker… It’s a damn show! It is fiction! It is not a documentary or a testimonial on how to live your life. She is a fictional character doing fictional things with fictional people. She just happens to do it with an outstanding wardrobe and a purse collection that I might fight someone for. SO GET OVER IT! When people watched “24” or “The Unit,” they were are not thinking about how to build a bomb out two soda cans and wire because it was fiction!
So tonight, I will watch the season finale settled comfortably on my couch with my remote control in hand. And as I prepare, please be so kind as to hold your tongue and your comments, but pass me some popcorn, a glass of Merlot so I can enjoy the show in true gladiator style! And if you still don’t understand? Just leave me the hell alone this Thursday night.
Signed a proud gladiator in Arizona.