Viewers love an intricately plotted series about fiery human emotions and the way lustful passion, no matter how virulent the circumstances, will drive poor souls to desperate acts.
ABC’s Scandal is finally returning from a three-week hiatus. The show has one of the most dedicated and diverse fanbases since HBO’s Sex and the City, which ended almost a decade ago. During the network’s break, The Scandalistas, as I like to call them (though they’re not all women), were going through withdrawal—evidenced by social media commentary lamenting the wait and the noticeable “silence” of tweets and Facebook status updates.
Full disclosure: I’ve never seen a full episode of Scandal. I know, I’m totally late to the party on this one. I can’t say I have a “good” reason other than simply not getting around to it. I am also not a huge TV watcher and a show has to be mighty good like the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning, Mad Men for me to sit down to a whole hour every week. I’m a fan of Kerry Washington, so I guess that’s a good enough reason. Exclusion from real and virtual show conversations is a close second.
Until this one.
A colleague whom I’ll refer to as Ms. Majorfan broke it down. When Ms. M. is not working her career as a busy creative management professional, she’s serving as a voice of reason in her friendship circle. The attractive single suburbanite has spent several Thursday evenings hosting Scandal events that ultimately turned into revelatory heart-to-heart sessions on life and love.
“It feels like Olivia is one of my friends and I’m cheering for her to get it right.”
By ‘getting it right,’ this devotee wants America’s favorite crisis manager to as Ms. M. says, “overcome the bad habit that she has,” an addiction to toxic relationships. Amidst the tales of danger and espionage, the juiciest buzz centers around Pope’s affair with President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn). While mainstream media appears to have approached the racial dynamic rather delicately, blogs and Facebook posts from African Americans have gone in. The black woman-white man extramarital dalliance has seen Washington’s character labeled everything from “whore” and “bed wench” to the “new Sally Hemings,” with equally harsh words for devoted, particularly black women viewers.
A post by TheRoot.com went as far to ask if black women are “hypocrites” for loving the “home-wrecking heroine.”
No matter the intensity of Olivia and Fitz’s flame, Scandal is hardly a primer on interracial romantic exploration.
“They’re all caught up in iniquity; that’s all I talk about,” says Ms. M.
It is very easy to dislike a philandering president and his weapons of mass distraction to throw Olivia off her already troubled course. The lack of clear-cut heroes and villains makes all the key players loved or hated depending on the scene. Viewers love an intricately plotted series about fiery human emotions and the way lustful passion, no matter how virulent the circumstances, will drive poor souls to desperate acts.
Until now, no one ever told me exactly why they were so intrigued. Some, though well-meaning, assumed that since it’s another top-rated Shonda Rhimes creation, I should just get it.
For Ms. Majorfan and her friends, Scandal strikes chords of empathy and sympathy for Pope, her supporting characters, and their real-life loved ones caught in a bad romance.
“They like it and don’t know why they like it. It’s just art imitating life.”
A messy life, but a life lived by people who without the high-level politics are something like us, quietly mitigating scandals of their very own.
I don’t know where to begin with Robin Thicke’s new video, “Blurred Lines.” The song itself, featuring Pharrell Williams and T.I., is a funky, soulful slide reminiscent of Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.”
The lyrics and juxtaposition of nearly nude women with farm animals are where the problems lie. Thicke wanted to convey an image of women free from restrictive relationships with, “OK now he was close/tried to domesticate you/But you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature/Just let me liberate you.”
Liberate? With three men in suits next to topless women? Where is the liberation in that? Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a prude. Even the unrated version of Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” has quite a few mammary flashes.
The biggest difference is attitude. The Adam Levine-led vid has a much stronger air of self-assurance among everyone involved. The women in “Blurred Lines,” when not rhythmlessly prancing around a bale of hay, riding a stationary bike, or cuddling baby goats, appear visibly uncomfortable. One model practically shrinks away as T.I. brushes her hair during his raunchy verse, “Yeah, had a bitch, but she ain’t bad as you.” Really T.I.? To whom are you referring? Not your wife, Tameka “Tiny” Harris.
Which leads to another curious point. Thicke supposedly asked his actress wife, Paula Patton, for “permission” to launch this video, but there so far have been no reports of T.I. talking with Tiny or Pharrell conferring with his fiancée, Helen Lasichanh, on the content . Does that indicate that they are simply lesser participants in Thicke’s vision, or that it is weak for black men to consult the women in their lives on professional matters, particularly those involving the inevitably sexually charged art in R&B and hip-hop?
Unfortunately, the ends, or rear ends, don’t justify the means. Instead of a sexy career revival, (especially for Williams and Thicke), the trio comes across like dirty old men trying to push up on barely legal college girls. Thicke almost looks like he’s trying to up-sex his oft-compared, blue-eyed soul contemporary, Justin Timberlake, who spent a few months in media purgatory in the aftermath of the 04’ Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction” incident with Janet Jackson – who suffered even worse, but that’s another story.
I don’t know where to end with this either, except to say that people like uncut videos, but Thicke could have done better. A lot better.
Take a look for yourself. This is clip is NSFW, so check it out before you go to sleep, not when you get to the office.