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A Scandal-ous end

They were known as The Gladiators.  When Scandal’s Shonda Rhimes created an African American woman who was the real power behind the White House and Washington politics, she also created a team to assist her.  Together, Olivia Pope’s crisis management firm of gladiators manipulated the media.  They broke laws.  But they did so with the unfailing knowledge that they were doing it for the greater good.

They were the White Hats in a corrupt town and viewers loved the way they saved the day.

Then we discovered they weren’t so gallant after all.  The slippery slope of all those little laws they’d broken took them to the dark side pretty quickly.  They blackmailed, lied, tortured and murdered for their cause.

Of course, the argument is that if you’re going to fight evil, you’ll likely get a little dirty in the process.  But somewhere amid the Shakespearean monologues at hyper-speed that justified a myriad of sins, things got a little … muddled.

I was a seven-year veteran of the show.  However, I often found myself hitting fast-forward on the PVR while shouting “Oh do shut up, already!”  I also found it difficult to watch the so-called good guys decide whether or not to kill someone with the same level of consideration with which they’d choose between chicken and fish.

While I battled my distaste for the characters’ actions, Scandal’s creator and its stars loved to tout the show’s social awareness.  Yes, it had the first black female lead in over 40 years.  It had LGBTQ characters in positions of power.

It had a powerful episode regarding the shooting of a black teen by a police officer.  And it put a female, a Latino, and a gay man in the Oval Office.

However, it also made sure that every time viewers thought they’d seen the lowest level of humanity in their own back yard, they were introduced to someone even worse.

Executive Producer, Betsy Beers, recently said that “a show that endures is a show that tells stories of real human beings in difficult and sometimes extremely, almost larger-than-life situations.”  This is true.  Ironically, none of Scandal’s characters seemed “real”.

They regularly tortured people with power tools while proclaiming their love.  A man with a murky past got top level security clearance.  A fired Assistant U.S. Attorney was later named Attorney General.

And viewers watched seven seasons of Washington politics with barely a handful of discussions regarding policy, bills, or military action.  (The West Wing’s Aaron Sorkin must have been having a fit.)

Sadly, in the final episode, almost no one paid for their sins, while the one remaining true White Hat was murdered.  Shonda Rhimes says it showed that “there are few honourable people left in their world … and everyone was corrupted by the Oval Office.”

Scandal was a sad parable of power and corruption.  However, given the current political climate, I think viewers would have been better off with more hope and redemption.  And an extra white hat.