What the Hell Happened to Scandal?
Scandal, I have some questions for you. Namely, what the hell happened?
The ABC drama used to be believable. Not plausible, but at least somewhat believable. For any show to pull off the over-the-top melodrama Scandal does without becoming completely unhinged, it needs to be grounded by some semblance of reason. Even cartoons exist within a set of limitations. For example, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote can both run in midair unless Coyote looks down and realizes he's about to fall. Then, by the rules of cartoon physics, he plummets. Recently though, it's felt like Scandal's been running full-speed ahead with no ground beneath it, but when they look down and see they're about to fall, they say, 'F--- it, I'm going higher."
How much longer can they keep it up? How many more SHOCKING TWISTS can they throw at us before we become numb? How many more characters can they assassinate before the show loses all its relatability?
I'm not talking literal assassination (though the show has dabbled in more than a few of those). I'm talking about shooting a bullet straight through the heart of every character's core beliefs for no reason other than to shock and startle.
Does anyone actually believe Sally Langston (Kate Burton) would murder her husband in a crime of passion? Is Sally Langston even capable of that kind of passion? Why was Mellie's (Bellamy Young) strength reframed as the result of a sexual assault? Couldn't she have just naturally been the bada-- b---- we always thought she was? Is there a brand of bleach that will remove the image of Huck (Guillermo Diaz) licking Quinn's (Katie Lowes) face from my brain? Is Olivia's (Kerry Washington) gut ever right anymore? Is there anything she won't compromise?
The answer to that last one - as Season 3 has made abundantly clear - is no. So if there's nothing Olivia won't do, where are the stakes? Probably in whatever B-613 hole the writers stashed David Rosen (Josh Malina) in.
David was Scandal's voice of reason, the person who made sure Olivia earned the right to wear that White Hat, yet his role has dramatically diminished this season. Why? Because there is no room for reason in Scandal anymore. David's opposition to Olivia's tactics would force the show to slow down and actually develop a plot line. Instead, Scandal just keeps chugging along as though it had been injected with "That Chinese Sh--" from Crank.
Every episode feels as though Scandal is trying to outdo itself, but no one asked for this unremitting game of oneupmanship. There was never any pressure on the show to up the ante. So why has it felt the need to take what was once a fun political soap and turn it into an unmoored global conspiracy where laws and ethics are as disposable asHenry Ian Cusick? Was Ryan Murphy named showrunner when I wasn't paying attention? Has Shonda Rhimes gotten so addicted to the instant gratification of Twitter trending that she's forgone logical story lines and started injecting hashtags straight into her veins?
Scandal is like a snake eating its own tail, and eventually it's going to run out of story lines to chew through. Not to say I won't still be here watching, but I guess I'm just a sadist.
Do you think Scandal has gotten too crazy? Is there hope for it still?
Scandal returns Thursday, Feb. 27 at 10/9c on ABC.
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