For the past six years, I’ve made it a point to never be busy at or around 9 p.m. on Thursday evenings. Whether rushing home from choir rehearsal; or, leaving a work event early, before the clock struck 8:59, I’d be positioned in front of a TV screen. Remote in one hand; a smart device in the other.
This weekly ritual centered around ABC’s culture-shifting political soap, Scandal. Being Shonda Rhimes’ second TV series after the successful Grey’s Anatomy, no one expected thunder would strike twice. The initial reception for the show was timid. It teetered on the edge of D.C. thriller (a la House of Cards), and soapy drama of Empire proportions. And if that wasn’t enough, its lead was an African American actress.
While Seattle Grace’s Meredith Grey became a feminist icon, a black woman leading a network drama was a different animal. An African American woman had not lead a drama series since Diahann Carroll’s nurse in Julia. And let Hollywood tell it, people wouldn’t be interested in a black show. But as Field of Dreams stated: if you build it, they will come.
Viewers – mainly black women – came in droves to witness and make history with the series. And in a single season, the synergy of twitter and television became live-tweeting. It tapped into a pulse of TV viewership totally unprecedented. Thus birthed ABC’s TGIT – the biggest must-see TV block since NBC’s Seinfeld- led comedy run in the 90s.
Six seasons later, the twisted tale of Olivia Pope and associates is coming to an end. April 19th the series finale will air, closing an astute chapter in television history. I’ve compiled my favorite moments – from legendary monologues to the ever-so annoying Fitz-infused lip quivers.
1. Amanda Tanner meets Olivia Pope
- The pilot introduced us to Washington D.C. crisis handler, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington). Her first assignment – dismantling the rumors of an intern’s affair with the president. It was the first of many verbal assaults Olivia catapulted toward an adversary.
2. Meet Papa Pope
The end of season three finds Olivia possibly outed as President Grant’s mistress. As she thinks she has it all under control, her father – portrayed by the magnificent Joe Morton – arrives. He would have a series of memorable monologues, but this one ripped into Olivia’s from stem to stern.
3. Assassination, Attempted
Season two opened with a BANG. After discovering Fitz’s affair, Mellie is reluctant to play nice and attend a state dinner. We assume it’s because she knows what wicked this way comes. Fitz ignores her whining, and exits the limo to the press. Seconds later bullets ring out as he’s shot in the head.
4. Fitz with Blood on his Hands
As you may have guess, Fitz survived the assassination attempt. But when he finds out the who and why behind it, he flips his lid. To protect his legacy he silences the one person with the ammunition to bring him down. The bastard would later deliver the eulogy at his victim’s funeral.
5. Mellie’s Secret Pain
Just as Fitzgerald thought he had severed ties from his power-hungry wife, Olivia drops a bombshell in his lap. A pain Mellie kept hidden from her husband for years finally came to the surface. And like a woman, she swallowed it like it was nothing. This was before the MeToo movement and the call for Capitol Hill’s reform on sexual harassment in the workplace.
6. Liv and Fitz’s Closet Freak
Another staple of the series was the Cinemax-level sex scenes shared mostly between Olivia and her part-time lover Fitzgerald Grant. Here the two slip away from tumultuous situation in the White House to release some tension … in a computer server closet.
7. I Am Huck
In a stunning season two arc, we learn gladiator Huck’s backstory. Suffering througha mental episode, he shuts down verbally, only reciting three numbers. It’s Olivia who is able to reach him. We would later learn the tragedy Huck experienced at the hand of B6-13 years before joining Olivia’s team.
8. Jake kills James
Despite attempting to murder his lover before, Cyrus was never the same when James was killed. Jake acting on the call of Command takes James and two others out. I forget why but it was all to protect the Republic.
9. Quinn Vader
Billy Chambers was the main nemesis in the first two seasons. The conniving official was set to expose the Defiance, OH secret, bringing the administration down. Olivia and Command couldn’t have that. When Huck fails to finish the job, Quinn takes the reigns.
10. Sally’s Sin
In an alternate timeline, Hillary Clinton would have ascended to the Oval back in the 90s if it wasn’t for her philandering husband. Scandal played with this fan-fiction in the life of Sally Langston – a right-winged Christian conservative eyeing Grant’s incumbent seat. But when Cyrus threatens to expose the truth of her husband Daniel’s indiscretions, Sally snaps in a carnal moment.
11. Olivia Kidnapped
This storyline began the nadir of the series. Catapulted by Fitz’s jealous vice president, Olivia is kidnapped and held for ransom. The cost: the U.S. would have to declare war against a rather peaceful country, equaling a major payout for the VP. This had a sense of Cheney and Halliburton written all over it.
12. Olivia Gets Revenge
After the ordeal that was Olivia being held hostage, she struggled with extreme PTSD. Andrew returned hellbent on ruining Fitz’s life. As if being tortured by Charlie wasn’t enough, he pushed Olivia off the edge. She forever lost her White Hat when in a rage killed Andrew with a metal chair.
13. Mother Maya
For years Olivia believed her mother was deceased. A victim in a large-passenger plane crash overseas. But once she uncovered the truth of her father’s occupation, it wasn’t long before Olivia was reunited with her other parent. Turns out Maya didn’t die, nor was she a victim in the plane crash, but the perpetrator.
14. Fitz & Mellie Lose a Child
We witnessed the sinister depths Eli ventured to ruin the Grant family. None other was more cruel than the orchestrated murder of their son, all to swing sympathy toward Grant to win an election.