It's the age of bingeing. No, I'm not talking about on food or alcohol, although I'm sure somebody somewhere is bingeing on one or both of those things. I'm talking about on television. We live in an age where binge-watching on television is the new normal. Not only is binge-worthy television more easily accessible these days, with Netflix, On Demand, online, and complete seasons on DVD, it is highly entertaining and addictively watchable. When you're fortunate enough to latch on to a series that makes you want to skip meals and sleep, choosing instead to watch the next episode, then you've struck television gold in your quest for your next great binge. My latest is Scandal.
The rapidfire sound of a camera shutter, snapshots images across the screen, giving me the sense that someone is always watching. The camera slowly pans the scene, alternating between clear and prism distorted shots. Scandal has a look and style all its own. For me, these stylistic choices mimic the idea that someone is always watching, but what did they actually see. I don't know what took me so long to join the masses in watching this series of sex and politics, but I'm thankful that I no longer have to shake my head apologetically or shrug my shoulders unaware when it comes to Olivia Pope references or articles written about Bellamy Young's portrayal of first lady Mellie Grant. I am now in the know and couldn't be happier to be an attendee at the gladiator party.
Let me start by saying Shonda Rhimes is a genius. She has created, with Scandal, a television show that appeals to me even more than Grey's Anatomy did when it was fresh and new. Scandal is a political drama with enough thrills, sex, romance, power-hungry politicians, and yes, scandals, to fill a six-month quota in just one episode. It's never boring. I am constantly intrigued and never surprised when I find myself shocked. There's a level of anxiety that hovers in the room when I watch. The story lines can take any twist or turn during a given episode, but those twists and turns always feel right. The brilliant writers know how to give enough backstory to leave you wanting more, while answering questions you didn't even know you wanted the answers to. They know how to shock you and they know when to give you the payoff. I am never sure what to expect, but being open-mouthed (jaw to the floor) is an expression my face has gotten used to.
When you watch a show called Scandal, you expect there to be plenty of what the title suggests. You will not be disappointed. There are scandals that last an episode, scandals that span the season, and one major, overarching series scandal that looms over everyone's head. However, the show is about so much more than the sum of its scandals.
Kerry Washington's character, Olivia Pope is a "fixer," a crisis manager. Her job is to fix the problem. And manage her clients' problems she will, even if she can't manage her own. She runs Pope & Associates, a collective of lawyers, sleuths, and hackers who help her help the client. There's quite a bit of dysfunction between these characters, but the same can be said of any family. And that's what the characters who work at Pope & Associates are, a family. For that matter so are the characters who work in the White House. All of their paths cross, their lives overlap. They know each other as much as they allow themselves to be known. Sometimes they work together as a team. Sometimes they work against each other. There is a desire among these characters to take care of one another, but there is also a willingness to hurt each other for the greater good. The question of who can you trust is always in the air and friendships seem only as deep as Olivia Pope's Prada bag.
If the scandals make the show interesting, it's the characters that make the show compelling. The storytelling is so engaging, the scenes so well acted, that the machinations of the political figures that thrive and breathe in Scandal's Washington, D.C. make me question what childish plots and crafty schemes our real life politicians keep hidden.
Scandal is delicious and just as good as all your friends keep telling you it is. It rightfully earns its People Magazine praise as "TV's juiciest drama." I don't want to give anything away. I want you to experience for yourself the political intrigue as it unfolds in all its breathless, sordid detail. The search for your next great binge is over. Pour yourself a glass of wine. "It's handled."
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