The Queen was about to start my recap of last night’s episode, and I went online to find the name of an episode character. In doing so I also found several recaps–including this one on entertainmentgather.com by K. Lee, which was a more than adequate play-by-play of the episode. No need for me to do the same–although I will say that the last ten minutes actually had me engrossed enough to tune out my next door neighbors, Chet and Stan, having a rousing argument about where they were spending their tenth-year anniversary: Provincetown or Rehoboth?
The writers are beginning to slow the pace down a little and give us more character development. Not much mind you, but enough so that you begin to care a skosh when the scribes throw yet another handful of plot twists at you like so much confetti. I am definitely not emotionally hooked to this show, but the Queen is intellectually intrigued enough to keep going until they decide not to renew it for next season. The lack of emotional connection comes from both the writing, and the usual disconnect from shows such as this. I am going to get my Black Card revoked, but I’m letting some of you white folk in on the way the Queen and many other people of color look at most commercial television shows.
Let’s start with the music. For the past two episodes, Scandal–like all of Shonda Rhimes’ shows–opens with a sequence that includes music. Last week it was Stevie Wonder’s I Wish. This week was Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly. I love both songs. However, in the Queen’s opinion they have absolutely NOTHING to do with the sequence or the episode. Sure I could reach for meaning. But for a program that seems to pat itself on the back for hitting the viewer over the head with meaning, it seems strange that blatant intent would be sorely lacking with its music choices. You get why they place a song where they do in Grey’s…. I don’t get why Scandal’s musical choices are what they are. Right now it just feels like “We’ve got a Black Lead, so let’s put in some snappy Black Music.”
Here are the things the Queen has learned about Washington DC from Scandal (it’s similar to what I learned about New York through Friends): DC has no neighborhoods other than Capitol Hill, Georgetown, and the Mall. And other than Olivia Pope, Harrison Wright and Huck (who doesn’t even have a last name—I know, I know it’s probably a character device. It’s just that when your only Latino character has no last name…it looks like something else to this FBQ. Show us someone who lives in Adams Morgan and I might let that one go.) it doesn’t seem to have many people of color either. Walking around all parts of Chocolate City for a good portion of my life, it is surreal seeing shots of the city sans diversity. Now, granted, we don’t really get to see the Nation’s Capitol in this show. The production crew came into town and got the obligatory exterior shots of what outsiders identify as DC, and then left. So this story about this city, isn’t really about this city. It’s not like The Wire or Homicide: Life on the Streets, where the city becomes a character. This is the tourist’s Washington.
And the Queen hates tourists.
Something has happened to the Queen in his late middle-age: the ability to suspend disbelief around omissions of this nature, has left. I’ve somewhat reverted back to the righteous indignation of my youth. it’s a lot easier for me to call bullshit, bullshit. There are things that I can still forgive (slightly), like Olivia’s lines regarding the late-blooming of the Cherry Blossoms. Of course the episode was filmed before the flowering of the trees (which actually bloomed early this year); however it was a novice writer’s flaw. Why write a speech around an event so unpredictable–no matter what the Farmer’s Almanac might say?
But it is very difficult to consciously support a show that makes it very clear I am not the target demographic.
So far there has not been one storyline other than Olivia’s that involves a person of color as more than a peripheral character. And that’s actually being kind. In the past. black people have been able to convince themselves that this is because only White People do scandalous things–no matter how ridiculous we know that rationale is. This is, after all, Washington DC: home of Marion Barry, Harry Thomas Jr., and Leslie Johnson, the Prince George’s County council member who was caught stuffing 80k in her bra at the request of her County Executive husband.
I get it. I really do. if the average white (hell, or Asian, or many other ethnicities) Nielsen Viewer clicks past a show with too many black people onscreen at the same time, they might not watch because it’s perceived as a “Black Show.” But surely there is a win-win to be found. Would it really be far-fetched if the President was, say, I don’t know…Black, and Olivia was having an affair with him?
Although, if it were Michelle Obama confronting her husband, I’d tell Joe Biden to get ready to take the Oath of Office.
‘Cause Michelle. Don’t. Play.
So,in addition to the FABULOUS Mary, Forever Femme, peep.this and the Queen, are any of you Miss Things watching?