ABC’s Show Scandal: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Olivia & Fitz
Olivia & Fitz

I have mixed emotions about ABC’s hit TV show, “Scandal.”   The show, created by Greys Anatomy writer Shonda Rhimes, stars the beautiful and talented Kerry Washington who plays, “Olivia.”  Olivia is a “professional fixer” for big wigs.  She makes their problems go away before the public finds out.  Olivia is also in love with Fitzgerald Grant aka “Fitz,” who is the POTUS (President of the United States), played by Tony Godwyn.  Much of the show revolves around their on and off again emotional & sexual affair.

The Good:  Due Props

On one hand, there’s so much I want to applaud about the show.  It’s written by a  Black woman. It stars a Black woman (in fact, there’s been no Black female leads in a prime-time TV drama series since 1974).  The show is also based on a real life Black woman, Judy Smith, the nation’s top crisis manager who also co-produces the show.  As WCVB put it, “whether it’s Tiger Woods or Michael Vick, Mel Gibson or Monica Lewinsky, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer or even a major corporation such as Enron, when trouble hits they call Judy Smith” (her website is judysmith.com).

From a purely artistic point of view, Scandal brims with talent.  It won an Image Award for “Outstanding Drama Series” in March.  Not to mention winning the NAACP Best Drama Series and other accolades.  The soap opera-like story lines are suspenseful and captivating.  Even Olivia’s clothes are a work of art!  The character’s wardrobe is always super classy and sharp thanks to fashion designer Lyn Paolo.  In many areas, you can summarize the show as simply “brilliant.”

But on the other hand, there’s one specific thing on the show that I see some folk applauding that is, well, unapplaudable.

The Bad:  Double-Mindedness

Twitter and Facebook light up with “Scandal statuses” every Thursday from morning-to-night.  Many of the posters are hopeful that the show’s two lovebirds hookup for good.

olivia2

To put it color-boxly, many want Fitz to leave his wife Mellie, the First Lady of the United States, played by Bellamy Young.  They don’t like Mellie and would rather Fitz be with Olivia.

Whoa.  Hold up.

(**Queue the sound effect of car brakes squealing to a halt.**)

You see, I’m connected to a lot of self-professing Christians in my social media circles (Facebook, Twitter, etc).  So their statuses of wanting to see Fitz & Olivia together (#fitzandoliva) baffle me.

Sin is not something people who love God should cheer on, right?  Clearly Olivia & Fitz are in an adulterous relationship.  Right?  So why do so many Christians root for this character to be with her forbidden lover? Fitz is married.  He and Mellie just had a baby, too.    Since when do lovers of God’s Word root for homewreckers?  Isn’t it Christianity 101 that married people ought not to commit adultery?  I mean, it’s one of the Ten Commandments, right?  The seventh to be exact. “Thou must not commit adultery” the Word says.

So even though the show is not real (it’s fiction)…how is it that I saw statuses from a Christian support pro-life issues on Monday… cheer for Oliva & Fitz’s affair on Thursday… then have a problem with the History channel airing The Bible on Saturday?

One friend gave me this answer for all of the above:  double-mindness (James 4:8).

Are you following me or feelin’ me here?

(Side note:  By the way, I personally think The Bible Series on TV did more good than harm.  Even though it wasn’t 100% true to the Bible text, it got people talking about the Bible, tweeting about it, and reading God’s Word.  I’ll share more about this in an upcoming post.) 

The Ugly:  Deceit

Some believers even tweet about how cool Olivia’s character is… and they also want to “be” her.  They wish they could be Olivia Pope on the ABC Show, Scandal.  Emphasis on some.  I’m not saying all Christian women want to be Olivia, but some do, as evidenced by their statuses.

Say what?  Yes, it’s true.  Originally I was going to insert screenshots of the statuses I saw on Facebook, but ethnically I won’t since the privacy settings of the statuses were not set to public; they were most likely set to “friends” or “friends of friends” which is how I saw it.

Well, watching or liking a show is one thing.  But wanting to be like one of the characters when the character is known for deceit  is a whole other ball of wax.  Olivia’s character covers people’s sin (aka encouraging deceit), wrecks holy matrimony (again deceit), surrounds herself with professional murderers and helped to rig a presidential election.   Deceit, deceit, deceit.  And, well, deception is one of those things the Lord detests.  Proverbs 6:16 says so:

There are six things the Lord hates—
no, seven things he detests:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
hands that kill the innocent,
a heart that plots evil,
feet that race to do wrong,
a false witness who pours out lies,
a person who sows discord in a family.

That scripture just about sums up Oliva Pope, does it not?  Okay, okay, I know some Scandal fans will disagree with me on that one, and I don’t want to exegete the entire scripture here to prove my point.  I’ll just sum it up like this:  Olivia is not a Proverbs 31 woman.  She’s not.  Yet Christian women all over social media want to be her and cheer her on.  This ought not to be!  Right?

Granted, Olivia didn’t really want to go through with rigging the election, but she did.  She also resigned from her position at the White House to stop the affair, but it didn’t stop.  We all make mistakes in our lives.  Big ones and small ones.  It’s just that our Sister Olivia in the span of only a few shows has slept with 3 men:  the President,  the Black gentleman who was pursuing her, and Jake (talk about sleeping with the enemy).  Very unwise.

The Bible is Just as Scandalous

Now please don’t get me wrong.  I’m not hating on the show or suggesting we can’t watch shows that have sin in them, because you’d have to basically not watch any drama series on TV, or even stop reading the Bible for that matter.  Some of the most scandalous stories I know are in the Bible.  Half-brothers raping sisters (2 Samuel 13).  Daughters intoxicating their father and sleeping with him to get pregnant (Genesis 19:31-35).  A father offering his virgin daughters to strangers (Genesis 19:8).  I could go on and on.  The Bible is sizzlin’ with drama and lots of examples of what not to do.  So if I were to tell you not to watch a TV show because it had sin it, I’d have to also tell you not to read the Bible.  Although the Bible is real drama unlike Scandal which stems from Shonda Rimes’ wildest imaginations and her team of writers.

But does this mean we “cheer” for a sin like adultery?  Or that we fantasize about being a character that is the opposite of the Proverbs 31 woman?  I think not!

My bottom line point is this:  Don’t cheer the uncheerable.  Don’t applaud the applaudable.  Don’t get sucked into “Team Scandal” so much that we (unwittingly) glorify adultery.

I propose a challenge to Christian gladiators, if you really want to be radical. Pick a Thursday that you would normally watch the show and read your Bible or pray instead.  If you can’t bring yourself to miss just one show, you might need to evaluate why, spirituality.  This challenge may help with keeping the first of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shall not have any other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).

I have watched shows (like Homeland, a drama series on ShowTime), where I sometimes forget that as much as I like the smart FBI agent “Carrie,” I can’t be “thrilled” with her getting together with Brody, a married man who is also an on-again off-again terrorist!  It’s very easy to get caught up in our emotions, excited by these fictitious, dramatic plots and “cheering” for bad guys.  If we are what we eat (as the saying goes), I would dare say there’s potential to become what we (regularly) watch.   Garbage in, garbage out.  This is why it’s critical as Christians to renew our minds daily (Romans 12).

Your Thoughts

So what do you think about any or all of the above?  Please leave your comments below.

  • D. Barber

    I love the show because it’s well written, great characters and character development and you never quite know what to expect. But like you, I’m not rooting for the Olivia-Fitz match-up because, true life or fiction, I can’t feel good about adultery and the destruction of a family. Rhimes is obviously brilliant but I think it’s interesting that both her hit shows work hard to build sympathies with the “other woman” and to make the wife the least desireable character. I suspect the dismal marriage statistics in our country, including those among Christians, make this easy to do. For me, I spend each week hoping that Olivia will wise up and leave the cheating husband alone. But, based on the popularity of Dr. Gray and Derek on Grays Anatomy, I think it’s doubtful.

    • Thank you for your comment! Yes, I agree a lot of shows reflect the popular view and statistics of marriage in our country, sadly. Lots of “other women” out there who can relate to Olivia I’m sure. I’m also hoping Olivia wises up, and guess what, it’s very possible! Remember that she has a suitor who wants to marry her, the black gentleman (I forget his name). We haven’t seen much from him lately, but maybe she’ll go back to him. Perhaps that’s part of the twist Shonda teases about her quote below about the finale:

      “We’re going to leave everybody over the summer, I hope, with their mouths hanging open a little bit, asking how the he[ck] they’re going to get out of this, which is our goal. We know how we’re ending the season and now we’re trying to figure out how we’re getting out of it (laughs). We end the season in a way that explodes the premise of the show in a way that’s good and strong and hopefully sticks with bold story telling.”

      p.s. ABC renewed Scandal for a 3rd season, and Greys Anatomy for a 10th season.

  • Guest

    Great overview and analysis! I didn’t know it was based off of a real black woman. Fascinating!

    • Thanks for commenting! I saw a “fixer” in three movies. “The Cleaner” with Samuel Jackson a Crime Scene Cleaner. Also Pump Fiction, where they called Harvey Cartell the “fixer” when they had the dead body in the back trunk and needed to “resolve the problem. I can’t recall the third right now. I wondered then if there were “fixers” in real life. Well now I have my answer! JudySmith.com =)

  • Todd Barnes

    First of all, let us not be ignorant of Satan’s devices. He frequently operates on an old familiar pattern. He knows full well what is says in the scriptures: “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire [lust]. 15 Then desire [lust] First of all, let us not be ignorant of Satan’s devices. He frequently operates on an old familiar pattern. He knows full well what is says in the scriptures: “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire [lust]. 15 Then desire [lust] when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death [separation from God].” James 1:14-15. That said, a familiar tactic of the enemy is to first get your attention (entertainment), then stir up a fleshly desire for the forbidden while encouraging you to indulge in the flesh. Finally, he’ll then sit back and enjoy as “Christians” offend Christ. (1) entertain; (2) entice / encourage; and (3) enjoy. Consider man’s original sin. It started with Eve entertaining a conversation she shouldn’t have been having in the first place – step 1. Step 2 was the enticing – making the sin appear desirable (this will make you wise, this will bring you pleasure, this will somehow satisfy you) and the encouragement – now that you want this forbidden fruit, now that an evil lust is stirred, and the only thing that might stop you from going after what you want is a fear of the consequences, let’s question God’s word concerning the consequences (it won’t be so bad / it will not separate you from God, nevermind what God said). Once Eve bought all of that, the evil deed was as good as done. It started with the
    conversation. First order of business was Satan needed Eve’s attention. There
    needed to be some entertainment concerning disobedience to God. Sadly enough, “Christians” are still falling for the okey-doke. While none of us are talking to serpents in gardens, the that old serpent – the “prince of the power of the air” – has been stepping his entertainment game up big time over the years. His entertainment is better than ever. Once he has our attention, the next step is to entice. If he’s on his job and is effective at what he does, “Christians” will begin to desire the sin that he’s entertaining us with. I’ve never seen Scandal or spoken to any Christian women who went about wanting to be like the adulteress in the series, but I’m not surprised to hear that at all. It only means the devil is alive and kicking, and that his old tricks still work.

    But now, let’s consider this from a biblical perspective. What does it mean to be a “Christian” in the first place? A true Christian is a follower of Christ, i.e., one that endeavors to keep the commandments of Christ. So let’s start with the first, Matthew 22:37-38 ~ “ Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” Ok then, so what should loving God with all my heart and mind really look like? The word says: “[Let your] love be sincere (a real thing); hate what is evil [loathe all ungodliness, turn in horror from wickedness], but hold fast to that which is good.” Romans 12:9 AMP. Here’s a very fair question: if we’re loving
    God sincerely and biblically, with all of our hearts and minds (fundamental
    Christianity), and we’re therefore supposed to be hating evil, loathing ungodliness and turning in horror from it, how is it that we’re entertaining ourselves with (and in many cases actually enjoying) the very things we’re supposed to be hating, loathing and turning away in horror from? How is it that we enjoy, by choice, the very things that our God hates. Is it possible that we have left our primary and paramount love? (Is it possible that the love of God was never primary or paramount in the first place?) If so, the Bible (Revelation 2) is calling us to repentance! Sure we can dismiss this whole discussion by saying “it’s just a tv show.” But I hope somebody can see that saying that is equivalent to Eve saying “it’s just a conversation.” The enemy is at work, entertaining, enticing, encouraging sin, and enjoying making a mockery of the church in many instances. It’s all a set up. Consider Romans 1:28-32 – “28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” Is it possible that the enemy has us so mesmerized by the excellence of his entertainment, that we end up giving approval to those who practice all manner of unrighteousness? It happens. It happened to me. I found myself caught up once upon a time watching the movie 7 Pounds. The enemy had my head so twisted watching that nonsense that my heart was rejoicing watching a man and woman indulge in glamorized sexual immorality, and the suicide of “our hero” was portrayed as an exercise in nobility. When I picked up on that, vowed never again. I aint saying there’s a devil under every rock, but I am saying we’d better learn to recognize that dude when we see him. Otherwise, he’s liable to literally entertain us to death!

    Yeah, it’s not popular preaching, but really, who cares? “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2nd Timothy 4:3-4. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another … And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:9-13. I say we stop making excuses and turn off that trash! Let’s love God the way He deserves: with our whole hearts and minds, loving what God loves, and actually hating what God hates!

    • Thanks for weighing in, Todd! I can certainly understand and relate to your passion. This particular show has many ills, but it seemed to me that the affair was an ill being cheered on by the masses… and astonishingly by some saints. Be it just a couple or a few, it was still disconcerting and disturbing. While some issues we discuss as believers are clearly personal convictions and not doctrinal essentials, I think it’s safe to say that being “entertained” (as you & others have aptly phrased it) by two people glorifying week after week in sin and longing to see that and hoping the sin continues, is, well, foul. It stinks. Pee-ewwww.