Can you even remember what you used to do on Thursday nights before you got hooked on ABC’s hit TV show “Scandal?” I know, right.
Every few years a series comes along that just clicks with Black
America. Just off the top of my head, and in no particular order, there
was “The Game,” “Soul Food,” “Living Single,” “Def Comedy Jam,” “The
Arsenio Hall Show”, the “Dave Chappelle Show”, “The Cosby Show”, “In
Living Color,” “Soul Train,” and now “Scandal.”
What distinguishes that list of shows from many of the shows popular
among blacks is the emotional ties that came with them. If you didn’t
watch “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” your peers might assume it just
wasn’t your kind of show … if you didn’t watch “The Cosby Show,” “Def
Comedy Jam,” and now “Scandal,” black folks look at you funny.
I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve heard comedians, actresses and
others literally have to defend themselves and their blackness because
they aren’t regular viewers of “Scandal.”
It’s a good, well-written show, but how did it get to be an obsession?
Hollywood veteran actress and “Scandal” fan Holly Robinson-Peete thinks she knows why.
“We are starved for people who look like us doing the things we do or
fantasize about doing and we don’t get a chance to see enough of that,”
But Christopher J. Respass, a pastor in a Dallas
suburb, thinks it goes a little deeper. He says “Scandal” appeals to a
lustful part of us that longs to be satisfied. He says what we don’t
see in the hour-drama is that its allure results in “real destruction.”
In case you’re not familiar with “Scandal,” and God bless you if you
aren’t, in a nutshell, the show is about Olivia Pope, a fixer who is
having a torrid affair with a very white president. Ironically, Pope
seems to be able to fix the world while her personal life crumbles
before our eyes. Played by Kerry Washington, she became the first
African American actress to have the lead in a network drama in almost
40 years when she landed this role.
Pope is based on former George Bush (the daddy) administration press
aide Judy Smith who is also a co-executive producer. There’s lots of
sex, mystery, intrigue and the show created and written by the
incomparable Shonda Rhimes is fast-paced, unpredictable, and an
But even with a black creator and writer, a black co-executive
producer and a black star, ABC and Shonda Rhimes are quick to stress
that “Scandal,” is not a “black” show.
It may not be in their heads, but for whatever reason it speaks to
Black America in traditional and not-so-traditional ways. There are the
formal live social media parties like the one Tom Joyner frequently
holds on Facebook, and a variety of Twitter parties, some that include
Kerry Washington and Shonda Rhimes. Add to that the home and cell phone
parties and one thing is clear: “Scandal,” is one of the most social
shows on the air.
People feel the need to talk about it when it’s on and to complain when it isn’t.
So much so that when the networks put it on a three-week hiatus, a
petition was started on “Change.org.” The leader of the “movement”,
T.R. Mason writes:
“Putting a show like Scandal on repeated hiatus is a surefire way
to lose fans and viewers. Gladiators/Scandalistas/Scandalists
everywhere have not gotten over our initial shock that there will be no
Scandal AGAIN for 3 more weeks. Instead of whining and complaining, we
are doing something about it! Shonda Rhimes is NOT the reason there’s
another hiatus. It’s the TV execs at Disney/ABC Television Group. Let
your voices and displeasure be heard by contacting Anne Sweeney, the
President of ABC Entertainment [...] Or send her a nice little profanity
free email at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
So far, nearly 2,000 have signed the online petition.
I wonder if the signers find it a little strange when they noticed
that some the other issues being protested are child sex trafficking,
the exploitation of child labor and lack of insurance coverage for life
saving medical procedures.
Even though Mason’s letter was somewhat tongue in cheek, we know some people who sincerely seem to need their “Scandal” fix.
I’m a “Scandal” fan, but I wonder if some of us have crossed the line
and become fanatics—obsessed and overly enthused about it. I know one
mom who won’t allow her children to interrupt her during the show no
matter what, and another woman who won’t work the night shift on
Thursdays even though she could use the overtime. That’s gangster.
I could understand this zeal, maybe, back before DVR, On Demand,
HULU and Netflix. But “Gladiators” want it live or nothing…no matter
what the cost.
Oh, by the way, here’s a tweet that might make their day from Rhimes:
“All new episodes of @GreysABC and @ScandalABC this week! FINALLY! Whew. Because some of you were yelling at me on the street about it ..”
Watch your back this summer, Shonda!