Now in its third season, “Scandal” is the story of Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), who served in the White House as the director of communications for President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) before leaving to form Olivia Pope & Associates, a crisis management firm in Washington, D.C. Olivia is known as a “fixer” because she specializes in making trouble vanish for members of the upper echelon. Although she is very good at what she does, Olivia has a major skeleton in her closet. It just so happens that she has engaged in an affair with President Fitzgerald (Fitz), and even though she no longer works at the White House, she and the president remain madly in love.
In organizing her firm, Olivia hired the following people: litigator Harrison Wright (Columbus Short); investigator Abby Whelan (Darby Stanchfield); former hacker and CIA operative Huck Finn (Guillermo Diaz); and new recruit Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes). This team of professionals works like a well-oiled machine to preserve the reputations of some of Washington’s most prominent citizens.
During the first season, the series introduced Olivia and her team and focused on developing the characters, offering background information about them, and providing updates on the current status on Olivia’s affair with the president. The ensuing seasons have introduced more twists and turns than you will find in a nest of vipers. Among the many things making this show such a treat is the fact that just about every character has personal issues, and even though Olivia is the main focus, many of those surrounding her are equally interesting and fascinating.
Perhaps the best example of what I’m talking about is Huck because he’s extremely complex. Olivia first encountered Huck when she was working on Fitz’s presidential campaign. At the time he was homeless, and she began buying him coffee on a regular basis. Olivia ultimately learned that Huck had done a hitch in the Marines, and then the CIA coerced him into a secret program known as B613 to torture and kill American traitors. All of this has left Huck emotionally scarred, but he is fiercely loyal to Olivia.
Another intriguing person is First Lady Melody “Mellie” Grant (Bellamy Young), who is highly intelligent, ambitious, and at times overbearing. She loves the power of being the president’s wife, and her reaction to her husband’s affair with Olivia is fascinating. Think Lady Macbeth in the White House.
The show constantly switches between Olivia’s office and the White House, and this makes it move very quickly because so much is going on in both places. The scenes in the White House are most effective, and many of them involve Cyrus Rutherford Beene, the harried chief of staff marvelously portrayed by Jeff Perry.
But what holds the show together is the steamy hot, and often rocky, love affair between Fitz and Olivia. No matter what else is going on, the writers never let us forget about the passion these two feel for each other. The chemistry between Washington and Goldwyn is absolutely electric, and their love scenes simply sizzle.
In an interview with MSN TV Washington offered her perspective on playing Olivia.
“She’s in many ways the most challenging character I’ve ever had to play. Just the athleticism of doing television is so new to me. Coming from film, the schedules are different. You have to be so much more productive and ambitious on the TV schedule. Even just who she is: she’s a complicated layered woman filled with contradictions. She required every tool in my toolbox and every cell of commitment. She’s been a challenge in the most wonderful way.”
The real life inspiration for Oliva is Judy Smith, who served as a press aide in the George H. W. Bush administration and who is the co-executive producer for the show. In the MSN interview Washington explained how much Smith has contributed to the series.
“I’m really grateful to Judy Smith who is the inspiration for the show. She’s been very hands on as the producer and certainly very generous with her time. She’s helping us understand this world of crisis management. She shared a lot with all of us on the show to help us understand the high stakes in this world when somebody walks into Pope & Associates on the worst day of their lives. You have to really wrap your head and your heart around that intensity.”
Murder, mystery, intrigue, double-crosses, election-fixing, illicit love affairs, backstabbing, “Scandal” has it all. It gets an enthusiastic 10, and I impatiently await each episode every week. It airs Thursdays on ABC at 10 p.m., and I unashamedly admit that I’m an incurable addict.