Friday, February 8, 2013

What’s Happening To 'Scandal?'

I watched Scandal last night, and as I told my cousin, I feel cheated. This show is getting out of hand, and I’m not sure I like it.  It’s true I have a preoccupation with justice, but I can handle my “good guys” getting their hands a little dirty. But Fitz a cold-blood murderer? Not good. Sure I like my characters complex, but not so complex that their actions aren’t making any damn sense.

Denzel’s Washington’s character in Training Day? Good complex. Fitz snuffing Vera’s lights out, then giving a rousing eulogy at her funeral? Icky, bad complex.

And, speaking of Vera and her dying confession, what was that? This is the woman who betrayed her friend only to keep her seat on the bench, and now she’s all, “I gotta clear my conscience,” but then comes clean in what I’d call a downright mean-spirited fashion, not what you’d expect from someone racked with guilt. And then there’s the kicker, of course—she hired Fitz’s shooter? What? Why? To protect her legacy? Sorry, this isn’t hanging together for me.

Here’s the thing. I’m beginning to believe that Shonda Rhimes or whoever’s responsible for the story line has a clinical aversion to decency and that the only thing we can count on with this show is people behaving badly. At this point, the only consistently decent character is David, and he keeps getting his ass kicked. What are we supposed to make of that? Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised if David starts acting up too, although I may not be around to see it.

Something is wrong when a man kisses his wife, and my stomach turns—that’s how I felt at the end there, when Fitz tells Mellie that she’s the only one he can trust, or some dumb stuff  (sounding like a silly, naïve fool) and then he kisses her, yuck—but he can embrace his mistress, and it seems right. We’re being manipulated here in a disturbing way. I mean, okay, look, I can’t claim complete innocence about this, as I knew it was wrong to cheer Fitz and Liv from jump, but last night some really creepy corner was turned.

So you say, well, Crystal, in real life people are complicated. They’re not all good or all bad. And I say, fine, but this is not real life. This is an art form, a dramatic construct, and there are rules, and I think some of these rules are being violated, here.

I watch a lot of television, and I understand the notion of turning expectation on its head and surprise endings, and all that jazz, but there has to be a level of consistency, or a surprise ending (or any other twist) doesn’t feel like a clever move but instead a lame ploy by a lazy writer.

Abby pulling the Cytron chip from her blouse? That felt authentic. Cyrus (everything he does lately)? Brilliant. These people are hard-core believers, and I don’t quite get it, but I understand it. But the principal characters are suffering. Fitz, never perfect to be sure, has always at least struggled with trying to do the right thing. Now all of a sudden we’re supposed to believe he cares so much for the Presidency that he’s willing to kill for it? Hmmm … And so help me, if this is explained away because he’s suffering personality changes as a result of his traumatic brain injury, I’m going to scream.

See, maybe I’m dumb. But I started watching Scandal, and it seemed fresh, and slick, and smart with some pretty interesting characters doing some pretty interesting things, and now it’s just devolving into this cheesy, lame-o, soap opera with characters behaving out of character, and there’s nothing to believe in and no one to root for. The show’s central character, Liv, is looking like a sad, little masochist right about now, and that speech about how she wants difficult and painful, and all that crap? Come on girl! Get it together! We know Fitz is your Achilles heel, but enough already.

I expected more, damn it. I just expected more.


  1. Agree - the envelope of credibility has been pushed a tad too far. So maybe Fitz has to evolve (devolve?) into one of the baddies to give the show legs beyond a season or two, but this arc felt inauthentic to me, too.

    I do have a question - not sure if I misheard this - when Fitz hears the dying Vera's "confession," doesn't he include Mellie's name amongst those who were in on the election rigging scheme? I thought it was the first name he uttered. If so, is his re-alliance with his wife also subterfuge?

  2. Hi Patti!

    I thought the first name was Cyrus, but then I was in a semi-state of shock and dread, having pretty much figured out where this was all going, so I may have misheard. However, nothing much would surprise me at this point.

  3. Hi Crystal,

    I totally get the points you made but I felt that Fitz's behavior was understandable and in alignment with his character development to date (including the head injury). He has shown the ability to be a bit ruthless in the past but has still been a sympathetic character. I felt sorry for his character in the moment he killed Verna because I believe he acted out of desperation after losing everything else that mattered to him. He was destroyed psychologically by Olivia's betrayal and it confirmed everything that his father said about him. Also, Verna tried to kill him, killed an innocent woman and totally crushed him. While I don't condone his actions I can understand them and feel sorry for him. I'm hoping that the 10 month advance in the story will provide the characters a fresh start.

    Shonda Rhimes has discussed her reasoning behind the characters' moral development and it makes some sense to me; I think it is a bold move because she stands to alienate viewers who are so invested in Fitz and Olivia having a fairy tale romance. Huck was originally supposed to kill Verna which would have been a safer route to travel.

    The Olivia/Fitz storyline has always been problematic but Mellie's behavior makes rooting for them a bit more palatable.

    Just my thoughts! I really enjoyed this entry and your blog overall:)

    FYI He did mention Mellie first as a co conspirator. He was not shocked by her involvement because it is in line with her character.

  4. Hi Mia! Glad to have you weigh in (and answer Patti's question--I thought you might have the answer)!

    OK, after reading your post I'm inclined to change my mind about Fitz ONLY if I can still consider the TBI OR if I consider that Fitz just "snapped" out of anger and despair. I'm not buying the "legacy" business.

    It'll be interesting to see how Rhimes untangles this mess and extinguishes the romance between Fitz and Liv without the entire show deflating.