I wouldn’t hang with Olivia Pope in real life. She’s actually the kind of woman I try to avoid. She’s an adulterer and a liar, and her clothes are better than mine. I can’t get with that.
However, each week I—and apparently all of my hundreds of Facebook friends— tune in to watch Olivia, played by the brilliant Kerry Washington, weave her web of deceit, intrigue and dishonesty.
Granted, I’m not perfect. Olivia and I could swap a few stories (mostly about where to shop in D.C., but I digress). So, I try my best not to judge real people, but I do enjoy passing judgment on fictional characters. With that said, I was still reluctant to hate on Olivia, a strong, Black, savvy, independent sister (much like myself in those ways). I overlooked the adultery. Excused the blackmail. I turned a blind eye to the flawless hair and gave her a pass. We all have issues. Right?
Right. However, Olivia lost all sympathy from me a few episodes back when her lover, Edison, confronted her about her affair with the president. He was silly enough to expect an honest answer from the woman he wanted to marry. Instead, he was met with righteous indignation.
I get it. It’s hard to admit a lie, and it might be impossible if that lie involved the president of the United States; however, I would have continued to root for Olivia had she denied his correct assumptions with a little less pride and arrogance.
Maybe a: “You’re trippin’. Please leave,” or even an “I won’t dignify that with a response.” I could have stayed in her corner with an “If you think that little of me, we shouldn’t be together.” Instead, she shamed him for even questioning her. The poor man even apologized. Despite her scandalous behavior, she had the audacity to consider his marriage proposal. I love Black love, but don’t we all, including Olivia, deserve to be loved for who we are, not for who we pretend to be? Luckily, for them both, she declined.
Series’ creator Shonda Rhimes pointed out that Olivia isn’t meant to be perfect. She’s a flawed, layered human being, like us all. Understood. However, I’d like to think that most of us try to do what’s right. If we notice we’re headed down the wrong path, we switch directions. If we end up in a torrid affair, we take steps to avoid the lover who’s already committed to his spouse. If we’re caught in a lie, we, at the very least, respond with some humility. And if we are wearing fly clothes every week, we give them away to writers… That’s the right thing to do.
Of course, it’s doubtful “Scandal” would be the hit show that it is if Olivia was that clean cut and remorseful for every decision she made. She wouldn’t be as effective a crisis consultant if she stuttered and hesitated every time her job required her to tell a lie. And if viewers wanted a moral to every story, they’d watch “Touched By an Angel” reruns.
But as relatable as a flawed, conflicted character is, most people want to see a happy ending. So, I continue to tune in to watch the messiness unravel, and while it’s sometimes hard to root for their questionable actions—like disposing of dead bodies and overlooking Columbus Short’s character as a viable romantic interest—I watch, hoping the same for Olivia that I would if she were an actual friend. I hope she rises from the quagmire she’s tossed herself in, leaves the drama behind and finds her happily ever after.