Kerry Washington's 'Scandal' Is Way Overdue
1 year ago
Shonda Rhimes makes history with ABC's new drama
The views expressed in this Op-Ed do not reflect that of the Loop 21.
I’ll be the first to admit that I had April 5, 2012 marked on my calendar for nearly two months when I heard that ABC would be airing it's new primetime show "Scandal" featuring veteran actress Kerry Washington. I was ecstatic that I’d finally get to watch a show of substance with one of my favorite people, based on the career of a real African-American woman in politics and created by another woman of color Shonda Rhimes.
I stopped for a moment when I heard the news to reflect on how many hour-long dramas there had been on television with a black woman in the lead and it wasn’t many, a handful at most. There was Jada Pinkett-Smith on TNT’s short-lived "Hawthorne," Jill Scott on HBO’s "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency," Teresa Graves in 1974 on ABC’s "Get Christie Love!" and now "Scandal." That makes four. And out of those four shows, only one is created, written and executive-produced by a black woman or person of color period (Rhimes).
So, with all this new knowledge, I tuned in last Thursday night ready to be mesmerized because anything that Rhimes touches seems to be magic (I’m also a "Grey’s Anatomy" fan and an occasional "Private Practice" viewer). What I saw was more than amazing; it was brilliant. Instead of seeing the usual ruckus of black women pulling out each others' weaves, arguing over a no-good man, eating, drinking and then doing it all over again on reality TV, I was able to turn on a good scripted show and watch someone who looks like me (OK, maybe not exactly like me or at all, but you know what I mean).
[ALSO READ: Kerry Blasts GOP For Attacks on Women]
Although, I can’t exactly relate to the life of Washington's character Olivia Pope - based on the real-life crisis communication manager Judy Smith -- I sure am thankful for her. I watched with pride as Washington glided across the screen, looking beautiful. I bopped my head as I listened to the classic soul music that Rhimes and her team had so intricately placed throughout the show. There was no drink-throwing, name-calling, degrading or looking down on each other for the show to be entertaining.
Instead, there was a black woman calling the shots, with a good story line while her diverse cast followed suit. And no, Washington doesn’t play a character without flaws, which is why she’s so appealing. The show flows at what Washington described on Twitter as the “Shonda Pace.” It moved so fast and kept me engaged that even when the commercials came on, I didn’t want to move from the spot on my couch in fear that I would miss some new twist to the story. It really was that good.