When it comes to TV, there are so many things I’m thankful for, but none more than Scandal. I’ll admit I wasn’t completely sold when it first premiered, but this show has continued to build and grow and ramp up its storylines and characters in ways I couldn’t imagine. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the turkey and the stuffing and the family and friends that come along with Thanksgiving, but when it comes to interrupting my Scandal viewing and forcing me to wait a whole additional week to see how the drama plays out, it feels like B613 level hole-in-the-ground torture. So to hold you over until the show’s return, here are ten reasons why I’m thankful forÂ Scandal.
#10 Constantly Surprising Us
I could point to various twist and turns throughout all three seasons, but I think last week’s episode was proof enough. Normally I am the type of TV watcher who is suspicious of everything and can see most things coming from a mile away. Not with Scandal. Liv’s mom escaping prisonville and showing up at Liv’s door, Huck preparing to torture Quinn, James taking a play out of the evil playbook and turning the tables on Cyrus, these are all moments (back to back, no less) that had my jaw on the floor. And I loved it. Of course, I could make a whole list of Â shocking I-didn’t-see-it-coming moments — Fitz “killing” Olivia’s mom, Mellie being raped by Big Jerry and using it to her advantage, Liv’s father-enforced reason for breaking up with Ellis, Fitz being the one to leak Liv’s name to the press — but that could be an entire article in and of itself. Nevertheless, I am so grateful that in an age of predictable TV storylines, this show keeps us on our toes and constantly goes further than we could ever imagine. I mean, Liv’s mom practically chewed thru her own arm, you cannot tell me you saw that coming.
#9 Finally Giving Us Harrison Backstory
No, it wasn’t much. Probably more of a glimmer than a glimpse, but after three seasons, we’ll take it. We’ve had stories, flashbacks and even full episodes about Huck, Quinn and Abby’s past, but nothing on Harrison. Until now. Granted, all we know is that he’s running from big bad Adnan Sharif who has been extradited from the country and the news that he may be back on U.S. soil has Harrison fearing for his life. Like I said, not much to go on, but we’ll take what we can get! And hope that we get more before the season ends.
#8 Proper Use of Flashbacks
So many shows attempt to use the flashback as a story-telling device. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s unnecessary and sometimes it’s just downright bad. Lucky for us, Scandal knows how to use the flashback just the right way. Not too much. Not too little. And not over done to the point where our characters are unrecognizeable. Each of the flashbacks gives us insight in to a character or story. From Huck’s past happy-go-lucky demeanor to Liv’s last memory of her mother and Mellie and Fitz pre-presidency, these flashbacks always add to the story and show us something we need to see — not just hear— for ourselves.
#7 Cyrus’ Ruthlessness
He had Amanda Tanner killed after she slept with the President. He came *this close* to having his husband killed after he found out about Defiance. And at one point he seemed to be preparing a hit on Liv. There is no line Cyrus won’t cross to achieve what he believes is the “greater good.”So it should come as no surprise that he is now shamelessly pimping out his husband. All his acts are so despicable that normally you would hate this character, but there is something about Jeff Perry’s Cyrus you just can’t quite hate. He is the President’s guard dog and in my heart of hearts, I think he really truly believes in what he’s doing and that the only people who will get hurt are those who deserve or need to be hurt. While I would put absolutely nothing past him at this point, each of his ruthless acts still continues to surprise and entertain me. And now, I can’t wait for the tables to turn as James takes the upper hand and gives Cy a taste of his own medicine.
#6 Doesn’t Talk Down To Us Â
I am so grateful that this show doesn’t talk down to us. Granted, I know very little about the inner workings of politics and sometimes I can feel some of their conversations go right over my head, but I would much prefer that to being spoon-fed a lecture in politics 101. This makes the show real. These characters know what they’re talking about and wouldn’t spoon-feed it to one another and I appreciate that they treat their audience with the same respect. And despite what people say about TV making you dumb, I think I’ve even learned a little (some things I wanted to know, others I didn’t) about the real world of D.C. politics.
#5 Finding Out Liv’s Past
As I mentioned before, I’m grateful to Scandal for finally giving us Harrison’s backstory. It felt missed and overlooked and was much needed. However, Liv’s backstory is one I’m even more grateful for because it’s one I didn’t even know I was missing. We are so caught up in the here and now and the Fitz-era Olivia that it hardly even occurred to me to think of her pre-Fitz. I really didn’t think the story needed it. Until I saw it and it opened up a whole new world. Watching Olivia’s mandatory Sunday night dinners with her father and her discovery of her father’s true work added a whole new layer to Liv. Their contentious relationship is so revealing and imperative to who she is today…not to mention to see how she’s changed and hardened over time. But just when I thought her father was insight enough, they throw in Liv’s mother! Alive! I truly can’t even imagine where this storyline is going but it’s clear that Mama Pope’s supposed death was vital in shaping Liv. Her father was cold and shrewd and direct and he modeled that for Liv so she grew up and became those things herself (although she still harbors a heart underneath it all…which I’m convinced Rowan does not). Whereas, her mother seems warmer, more loving, more nurturing. I love when she called out Rowan on not having any personal family photos of OIivia and even more so when she told him she used to make Olivia popcorn when she came home from school (all these years watching Liv eat popcorn and drink wine has seemed like an irrelevant ritual…until now!). So if Liv had grown up with her mother around, would she be different? There’s no way to know. But I have no doubt she is prepared to go all guns blazing to take down Papa Pope for not allowing her the chance to find out.
#4 Great Guest Stars
Lisa Kudrow. Paul Adelstein. Lisa Edelstein. Jack Coleman. Barry Bostwick. Just to name a few. This show knows how to use its guest stars. Some in roles we expect, others in roles we don’t. For example, I was a bit hesitant upon hearing Lisa Kudrow would be joining the show for an arc. I know she can do drama and we’ve seen another side of her comedy in things like WebTherapy, but when I look at her, I still can’t help but see a little Phoebe Bouffay. However, in her role as Josie Marcus, there was no Princess Consuela Bananahammock in sight. She was tough and ruthless and yet caring and willing to play martyr at the same time. I didn’t love how they introduced the character, but by her second episode, I was definitely intrigued and on board. Barry Bostwick has long played Fitz’s big bad dad, but his most recent portrayal may have been his most memorable. This man is reckless, shameless and heartless, everything that Fitz is not. He puts down Fitz at every turn and even takes advantage of his wife with little remorse. He is the reason Fitz is who he is and Bostwick plays the role to perfection. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, when this show casts a guest star, it’s a safe bet they won’t just be doing a shallow cameo…like the series regulars, the guest stars are required to step up and deliver…and boy do they ever.
Don’t get me wrong, I am team Olitz all the way, but that being said, I also adore Jake. He was super suspicious and creepy when he first appeared, but despite all that, he was also charming. I love how this season has brought him over to OPA and paired him up with Huck. These two former B613 agents are exceptional together and they will do anything to protect Olivia and take down the man who has ruined their lives aka Liv’s dad. I love it. And another thing, could he be any sweeter with Olivia?! He knows that beneath her tough exterior, she is broken and fragile and yet he respects her to no end. I think the reason I can love this relationship (if you can even call it that) is because I know there is no way it is endgame. He’s sweet and they are cute together, but there is no way they have what Fitz and Olivia have. And the show never tries to make that the case. So we don’t have to choose. We can enjoy Jake’s presence now and always know Olivia and Fitz’s love still endures.
How can you not love this fantastic bundle of crazy? Like Cyrus, she is cunning, intelligent and willing to do whatever it takes; however when she puts on the big smile and convincing loving wife faÃ§ade, you can see how she’d have anybody fooled. Her goal is obviously power and success and inevitably she has become an expert at manipulating Fitz in order to achieve that. After all, if it weren’t for her, Fitz never would’ve thrown his hat in the political ring in the first place. However, between the glimpses of that aspiring shrewd politico, you also see that Mellie really is the loving wife and despite how she may act, her husband’s betrayal still hurts her. Not to mention, this woman knows how to deliver a line. She’s always calm, she’s always collected, she’s always unruffled, but the lines she spouts are enough to set anyone on edge. She was absolutely phenomenal with Liv and Fitz in the bunker as she dictated the details of their affair (or at least what they would tell the press), but my favorite speech of hers was when she realized it had been Fitz who leaked Olivia’s name to the press.
Mellie: Â “The upsetting thing about being as educated as I am and as intelligent as I am is that being First Lady is profoundly boring. What’d you call me? Ornamental? Non-functional? I’m a rose dying on a vine here. Give me a war to run or the CIA or something. But I use the copious amounts of free time I have to think. And I’ve been thinking, ‘who could possibly leak that name? And why?’ And then I realized who would benefit the most. My idealistic, romantic, optimistic, idiotic husband.”
This woman has manipulatingly planned a pregnancy, revealed her husband’s affair on national television and demanded that her husband’s mistress go back in to the lion’s den. And yet, she’s also endured adultery, rape and public humiliation and she keeps on ticking. The character of Mellie is not only ruthless; she can also be fragile. But regardless of what she faces, she is smart and she is strong and she makes for a darn compelling character.
Â #1 Liv & Fitz Chemistry
I mean, really. This is what the show is all about. And I’m not just talking the sex scenes like we saw last week in the cabin. You can put these two on the phone together and their connection is electric. One of my favorite recent scenes was when he was in the bathroom and called her and she fervently dug the phone out of the trash to talk to him about his speech.
Olivia: “How are you? Are you freaking out about the White House Correspondent’s Dinner?”
Fitz: “I am freaking OUT about the White House Correspondent’s Dinner.”
Olivia: “Who’s vetting your jokes?”
Olivia: “You can’t vet your jokes, you’re not funny.”
Fitz: “I know that. Wait, I’m funny.”
Olivia: “You’re funny but you’re not funny.”
Fitz: “You think you’re funny?”
Olivia: “I’m funnier than you.”
Their cadence and rhythm is spot on. This is more than just character chemistry, this is actor chemistry. If you were to replace one of these actors, I just can’t imagine it would be the same. And Fitz built Liv a house! She’s yelling and screaming and he calmly begins to detail the house, which instantly changes her mood from rage to that undying love that we know exists between them. And he will never give up on. Yes, he felt betrayed by her for a bit over the whole Defiance thing, but even then, you knew that that was only because he loved and trusted her and ultimately he still held a place for her in his heart. Just as you knew that once Fitz found out he had killed Liv’s mother, it hurt him just as much, if not more, than it hurt her. She may have hated him at that moment, but he hated himself twice as much, which is why he is dead set to get to the bottom of it, regardless of what it costs him. Because that’s how much he loves her. More than he loves himself. More than he loves being President. I honestly think you could watch Kerry Washington’s Olivia and Tony Goldwyn’s Fitz read the phone book to one another and the spark would still be undeniable.
Scandal airs Thursdays at 10/9c on ABC.
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