Scandal flew below my radar for its first three seasons. When the show's popularity really hit, I was all caught up in Breaking Bad and Mad Men and turned up my nose at any network drama like some pretentious jerk. To quiet the pleas of a fellow television lover, I finally gave it a chance and I was hooked. As my new favorite Clickhole article so eloquently says, "Not every show needs to be fucking Mad Men."
Shonda Rhimes, of Grey's Anatomy fame, has perfected the art of melodrama, but here instead of giving us a whiny female protagonist who's more concerned with a dreamy doctor than saving people's lives, we have a strong, independent woman who confidently handles the problems of powerful people. Oh yeah, and she just happens to be having an affair with the president of the United States. Nothing about the premise is rooted in a believable reality—at least I really hope our country's politicians aren't framed for murder as often as Scandal suggests. It's easy to let go of logic and get caught up in the dramatic existence of White House fixer Olivia Pope, played to perfection by Kerry Washington. The most unbelievable detail of all is that Olivia only wears white and constantly drinks red wine, yet NOT ONCE have we seen a spill or stain. Talk about escapism.
Last season ended with a series of events piled on top of each other that were so insane that on any other show it would have constituted a jump-the-shark moment. Watch out, things are about to get real spoilery.
One of Olivia's comrades became a professional assassin. Olivia's father was revealed to be an evil mastermind. The president's son was killed. And, at the end of it all, Olivia left the country to assume a new identity and live on an island with the former head of a covert government agency tasked with torturing and killing those who get in the way of the White House's plans.
The season four opener gives Olivia (or rather, Julia Baker, her new identity and a nod to the first lead character played by a black woman on TV) exactly two-and-half minutes to relax on island before all hell breaks loose. Here, red wine is her demise; her colleagues track an unusual amount of alcohol shipments to a remote island and discover her whereabouts. But that's for the best. Sure, Olivia deserves a break, but I don't watch this show to see Kerry Washington loafing around in a swimsuit, I watch this show to see Kerry Washington's furrowed brow and quivering lip before she snaps out of it and yells at high-level politicians. Which, thankfully, is exactly what happens next.
Last season's over-the-top final moments aren't forgotten, but they are delicately handled in a way that proves this season won't be about trying to out-outrageous itself, the downfall of many shows of this genre. Instead it will be about doing more of the same in a world where the once good-hearted core group of characters has become deeply corrupted. I'm all in for the melodrama to come, with a trusty glass of red wine in my hand every step of the way.
Scandal, Thursdays at 8 PM on ABC