This Scandal review contains spoilers.
Scandal Season 7 Episode 5
What better title for a Scandal episode than “Adventures in Babysitting?” I haven’t watched The Help with Viola Davis, however, I’ve seen enough television shows, movies, and plays with an African American female cast as a caretaker for children and spoiled adults. Little was different in tonight’s episode from previous ones that included shouting, pouting and fighting between and from Rowan, Olivia, Fitz, and Mellie.
It’s odd that Olivia, as emotionally and spiritually damaged as she is written, has emerged as the caretaker for the other cast members. She needn’t have been ideal from the beginning of the show, but others not listed as the star of the show would have been more realistic as a stern parental figure in this and previous episodes. Perhaps her flaws were written as her areas of improvement over the course of what is now seven seasons. There’d be a lot of ground to cover to make Olivia a more developed character before the final episode bows.
I understand star vehicles built around an actor or actress that are infused with similar expectations some parents have for their unborn child. Creating a show based on the legendary Judy Smith, the lead actress ought to have had the chops to pull it off. Semiautobiographical work will always be scrutinized and compared to the original person or source material by people who know the person or was in their orbit.
It’s far too late in the series to air these complaints, and now doing so might signal that I don’t know or accept that Scandal is pure escapism. The original premise of the show was Olivia Pope and Associates solving sensitive, high-profile political cases that would be devastating if regular citizens learned about their exploits on newsstands. I signed up for that show, not what it has devolved into over the last few years. I don’t know what signaled the changed and retirement of the infamous white hat Olivia once wore.
Did something happen in the writers’ room? Did Kerry Washington become bored of her character always rescuing people? Did a focus group campaign for Olivia to have a love life with occasional intrigue and heartbreak.
The show doesn’t move me emotionally or prod me to think critically about the characters and/or situations they willingly accept. I don’t see myself reflected in any of the characters. A true test of most creative media is a connection to a larger than not audience who can and will identify with the story and characters on some level.
Countless boys want to be either Spider-Man or Superman when they grow up. Girls see themselves in Wonder Woman, Phoenix, or Storm. Yes, these are superheroes and fans know they’re written to be otherworldly, but that still doesn’t stop us from emulating some of their human personality traits.
I wish the Scandal writers and creative team hadn’t lost sight of what made the show good and in a few instances, great. The writers ought to have had a babysitter standing watch over them to maintain continuity with each successive episode and season.