April 23, 2013

All’s a Scandal in Love and Politics

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The show I decided to focus on this week was an obvious choice, since I spent the last week catching up on all of ABC’s Scandal (yes, that does mean I watched twenty-five episodes in a week). Like most TV shows I binge-watch, Scandal put me through a rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts — and left me in extreme anticipation of its return (Thursday, by the way).

Almost done with its second season, Scandal is about a team of lawyers in Washington, D.C. that specializes in making scandals disappear. They deal with a lot of high-level government secrets, including some of their own.

The best part about Scandal is its chemistry. The chemistry between the characters — among love interests, friends, enemies and others — is powerful and compelling. It is this amazingly-written and powerfully-acted chemistry that forces viewers to root for the characters, even when they make questionable decisions in all aspects of their lives. Shonda Rhimes (one of my TV idols) and the rest of the writers make us love the characters, sympathize with them and root for them to succeed — even when our morals are challenged.

(The rest of my post contains spoilers, so you have not caught up, or you’re planning on watching Scandal, you have been warned…)

Olivia Pope, former White House Communications Director who now owns crisis management firm Pope & Associates, is a strong, smart woman. She excels at what she does, and always looks fabulous doing it. When Olivia has a steamy, passionate affair with Fitzgerald Grant, the President of the United States — something everyone knows is wrong, inappropriate, and could jeopardize Fitz’s administration and career, yet we all root for it. Olivia and Fitz’ undeniable chemistry and passion, combined with how likeable her character is, makes it okay for such a scandalous relationship to thrive and be considered one of the most popular relationships on TV. We cannot help questioning our own morals and wondering how they can end up together in the end.

Even more scandalous, as the series progresses we learn that Fitz’s team — including his wife, best friend and Olivia — rigged the general election so he could win the presidency. This discovery should cause us to hate these characters and resent them for committing a literally world-changing felony. However, the show is written in such a way that we actually feel for them, and hope that they do not get caught. Each of the characters has separate motives and reasons for their actions — reasons that we surprisingly sympathize with and understand.

So what about when we make questionable decisions in our own lives? How do we define what is “right” and “wrong”, and what makes us question those lines? What makes us cross them?

Olivia Pope uses her gut: she always has a “feeling” as to whether to take a case, or if someone is lying. On Scandal, Olivia helps the rest of her team develop their own gut feelings — their intuition helps them make decisions and win cases.

Chemistry is powerful. Whether you have chemistry with your partner, your friends or what you love to do — it is a force to be reckoned with. Chemistry causes us to do crazy things, like have an affair with the President, or rig a national election. But when do you draw that line between acting with passion and going too far? How do you make a decision based on chemistry and morals? Just use your gut — Olivia Pope does.

And what happens if your gut is wrong? If chemistry leads you down the wrong path? Well, let’s just hope your affairs are not as scandalous as those of Olivia Pope.

Original Author: Samantha Weisman