Behind every successful woman is another woman who dared.
If Hollywood is poisoned with a lack of diversity for good quality roles, then Scandal makes for a powerful antidote. The hit TV series created by award winning TV producer and writer Shonda Rhimes is possibly the best thing that ever happened to black people, particularly black women as far as TV is concerned. Scandal is currently one of the most popular TV shows on modern TV but like many hit series’, after 5 seasons in running, it is starting to lose its mojo. Say what you will about Scandal, its longterm impact on consciousness of human beings must never be underestimated.
The thing with Scandal is the leading lady, Olivia Pope (played by Kerry Washington). Pope is the first of her kind on TV. She is smart, she is accomplished, she is beautiful and she has the heart of the world’s most powerful man, the President of The United States of America.
She is also black.
Women want to be like her and men want to be with her.
Before Scandal came along, primary power on TV usually went to men- white men. Women were the loving mothers, long suffering wives, opportunistic backstabbing bitches, strong silent support systems for men, sex symbols, play things for men, un-relatable femme fatales…you’ve seen the scripts in their varaiations, need i go on?
What scandal introduced us to was something rare, certainly for black women. Before scandal, the only place I had seen a leading black woman was in a ‘black movie’. And naturally, this woman was boxed into one or more of the roles mentioned above.
With Scandal, Olivia Pope has been let lose- lose to be a human being. A being who also happens to be a woman. A highly accomplished, punishingly beautiful black woman.
There are many good series’ out there and some have had bigger budgets than Scandal, some have better actors and better storylines. But none has done for TV what Scandal has. None has had the audacity to push the envelope quite so far.
It’s easy to tell that this series was created by someone who was trying to explore more than just the political drama that is Washington. The creator was sending subliminal messages about women and people of colour. Indeed, only a black woman could have created Olivia Pope’s role and character.
Recognized by Time Magazine as the top hundred women who have helped shape the world, Shonda Rhimes has in her creation reminded us that women can be beautiful, powerful and intelligent. These same women can be black.
Surely, we need more entertainment like this. Because when all is said and done, we consume entertainment both consciously and subconsciously. The way consumers see how people like them are portrayed on their screens affects how they see themselves and where they place themselves in the world. Scandal is entertainment but it’s not just for entertainment’s sake.
If you can get over the soap opera type romances between Olivia Pope and Fitzgerald Grant, then you will understand why Times Magazine recognized Shonda Rhimes in the way it did.
#International Women’s Day
This article was first published on Kenyabuzz.com