Last Thursday night I, like millions, finally received my fix. Scandal's gladiators came swinging back to me firing speeches off as if words are bullets and their mouths guns (and rest assure there was a proverbial body on the floor by the end of the episode), and Miss Pope surveyed her queendom and saw that all was damaged but forcefully told, easily, the most interesting man in her life, daddy, that she is "never out of options," or fabulous white Burberry coats, and set about to save her world and that white man's presidency (but why oh why Liv?). In short: I got my life last night. Yet, while many are talking about the very quotable, "Are we gladiators or are we bitches" line delivered by the always sexy Harrison/Columbus Short (seriously Olivia must have a vision problem), what stuck in my consciousness was the exchange between Olivia and her father:
Father: "What have I always told you? You have to be?"
Olivia: "Twice as good to get.."
Father: "Half as far."
And with that exchange Scandal made, perhaps, its most explicit comment on race in America. Also, it coupled this commentary on race with one on gender when Daddy Pope tore to shreds the idea of the status of "First Lady" as a prize. (Truthfully, the position of First Lady in the world of Scandal has always been a less than desirable one, so Olivia wanting it seems, well very pedestrian.) He wants his daughter to have power -- real power. That he couples this desire with patriarchal sexuality-shaming that reduces Olivia to a whimpering child is certainly problematic, but that he wants power for his daughter is -- dare I say it, progressive and almost pro-woman?
The reality is that what Daddy Pope tells Olivia is what so many black and minority parents tell their sons and daughters: Be better than best, be smarter than smart, be more than all you can be. And Olivia is the embodiment of the weight of that: it crushes, it hurts, it makes you lash out, but it also makes you brilliant and strong. (Anyone who disagrees with or thinks the "Twice as good" mantra is hyperbole need only look to the recent Emmys [and the overall history of the Emmys and the Academy Awards] to see proof, after all, a nomination is only half as far.)
What we are waiting to see is how strong Olivia really can be; after a season that basically tore her down and apart -- we saw Olivia depressed, stalked, sleep with a stalker, degraded by the "love of her life" who couldn't control his erections around her and we saw her almost killed -- we need to see her rise; frankly we need to see her ditch the Beyonce soundtrack to her life and instead play "My Way" the Nina Simone version, and it needs to be on repeat.