by Yon Walls, 2015
I’ve been watching the ABC Political Thriller Scandal since it’s first season, and I must say that I’m a difficult to please television viewer in that I’m always expecting TV that’s culturally transforming and or educational with great writing, a great production team and always great actors. I’ve too really been spoiled as a Public Television subscriber and a seeker of great film and especially Independent film as an often incognito freelance arts blogger and advocate. Scandal has delivered on all points. The show has lots of 20 something female (mostly traditional College age), 30 something, 40 something and 50 something male and female faithful mixed audience viewers. Simply put; a lot of people are watching via Thursday night ABC Primetime, selected scenes from Utube, Netflix and Hulu. ABC also now has a pay-on-demand option through Utube.
The drama also has a very active Twitter following that has set a new standard for social media and viewers connecting with TV celebs. The creator of the Drama, Shonda Rhimes (also creator of Grey’s Anatomy) has really found her niche and knows what it takes to write Drama that keep viewers thinking and watching. She’s also got a great writing team and produces the show with her co-producer Betsy Beers and is offered some great directions by Tom Verica and luscious costume designs by Lynn Paulo. The Drama’s concept is based on the true life Washington Public Relations fixer, Judy Smith.
This last finale that aired on May 14th ending the fourth season, left viewers with a sense that the Drama’s central characters really do matter and that characters always need to be fleshed out with actions and language that’s consistent with who they are from start. In this finale, it seemed that we were able to see characters come full circle and address their truths. The brilliant characters; Cyrus Beene (played by Jeff Perry), Huck (played by Guillermo Diaz) and Jake (played by Scott Foley) were surely great potential for exposing truth and moving the story forward and (as most serious fiction writers might admit and enjoy), for bringing characters fully to the page and deciding about them. To give them life or to hack them to death is the question. It’s fun stuff and a very serious profession for a few. Yet, there’s more! We won’t actually get to see if the characters survive till the start of next season. However it turns out, the writers have wittingly achieved a writerly narrative cohesion that the luckiest industry writers are paid for.
Also the characters Mellie (played delightfully by Bellamy Young), Quinn (played courageously by Katie Lowes) and Abby (played vividly by Darcy Stanchfield) are also in question. Will Mellie remain a President’s wife or will she decide that what she really wants is power and lots of it and arranges her life accordingly? Will Quinn in a heat of anger kill her best friend? Is Abby really the new ready White House girl or are parts of her abusive past still unresolved? It seems that this Drama’s writing team is going to have it’s will in the end and mostly are going to get the rare professional pleasure of deciding about characters based on who they really are and get the satisfaction of knowing Drama really does matter.
Other than effective writing and wonderful acting, maybe one of the other reasons the drama has been so successful is that, viewers need continuity and they need to know that some things turn out exactly as they want because it’s based on real to life characters with problems that matter. Viewers also don’t get off the hook for having to think something through when many of us daily through varied technology and electronic media, are having some fact or narrative changed for us every few days. This is why smart, thought-provoking, belief suspending drama really matters, especially in American culture today!
The Drama’s topping on the parfait is the delicious yet troubled couple Olivia Pope (played by Kerry Washington) and White House President Fitzgerald Grant (played by Tony Goldwyn), who at the finale find their way back to one another after a painful separation (on a beautifully filmed re-imagined White House Presidential balcony) despite Fitz’s unhappy marriage and the political and criminal intrigue that haunt them both. Yet, considering the Drama’s beginning, how could the couple not be reunited? Beneath the Drama’s genre of political thriller (as it’s named on Wikipedia), it’s a love story and a very passionate one. And, as cliche as it might be, we want true love to win in the end, even when the moral majority says otherwise.
There’s no mistaking; this magical Award-Winning on screen couple has fountains of chemistry, great acting skills and great writing for playing without a doubt, one of the screen’s best love stories.Recently I listened to an Hollywood reporter interview Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn about the finale who conjectured; that Olivia Pope will finally become B613, (the secret government criminal agency) replacing her father (played by the wonderful Joe Morton). My best writer’s argument is that; it won’t happen. It’s not consistent with Olivia Pope’s character; always in pursuit of the white hat, someone who really wants someone to come home to, who’s loyal to her friends because they always try and do the right thing, likes muppets, likes dancing, wants to make jam, and who knows real darkness but will never completely succumb to it. So, I’ve had my say and promise to keep my nose out of the Scandal writer’s room throughout the upcoming season.