99 posts tagged episode 306
There’s something my grandmother used to do whenever I’d start dating someone; I would tell her his name and then she would say ‘Oh, what part of town does he live in?’. That was her way of asking if my boyfriend was white. Oh yeah, my grandmother was an out-and-out racist. So I know what prejudice looks like.
This was one of those brilliant Scandal moments—though more heavy-handed than others—where a narrative is dropped in a pan, scrambled up with a healthy dose of habanero, and then shoved into your mouth against your will.
Don’t you just love when they slide a controversial topic in between the entree and dessert? This was a shot at those who still in this day and age believe that a woman should remain relegated to the roles traditionally outlined for us by long dead patriarchs.
I love the way this show displays the diversity that exists in womanhood and in feminism, and how each female character seems to embody various combinations of characteristics that shades her existence. These ladies don’t easily fall into well established tropes.
And can I also say that I’m glad to see Abby in this role of co-brain to the Olivia’s main-brain? I hope we get to see their back story soon.
"This was a shot at those who still in this day and age believe that a woman should remain relegated to the roles traditionally outlined for us by long dead patriarchs."
But aren’t there no lessons learned on Scandal? Idk…on the one hand, there is no right and wrong in Scandalverse, only shades of grey. And yet we get scenes like this in which the audience is obviously supposed to be rooting for Josie because she is right dammit! I was rooting for her because her speech like every feminist’s dream. Yet…in retrospect, the scene seems hollow when in the very same episode, Mellie calling Olivia a whore is unchecked yet again. Like @geejayeff mentioned in another post, this sort of “slut-shaming” (particularly towards) is normalized to the point where people don’t notice it. I’m sure the “slut-shaming” on the show is by design, but they’ve framed it in such a way that most viewers just sorta accept it as the status quo instead of questioning it and critiquing it.
I think people take Shonda too literal sometimes. I read what she says in interviews and I tend to wonder at the tone in which she says these things. Like is she being tongue in cheek? Is she being serious? Interpretation of the written word can be dicey, especially when it’s being read dry and without emotional descriptors.
All this gnashing over Shonda seems like a waste of energy to me. I can admit that she talks side ways at times, but I take away from her product what I will. Besides, I don’t believe her when she says that there are no lessons learned. There have been plenty of times when things have been presented in a manner that leaves things to interpretation and others (like the above) where there is a clear message being put out there.
There is always something to take away from what’s being presented. It may not be Shonda’s intent to have Scandal be seen as a show that walks you right up to the fountain for a drink, but as is/can be the case with most writers, there is a message being conveyed. It may not even be a conscious thing, but with this show, much has been deliberate. The subjects of race, gay rights, the institution of marriage, the definition of love, relationships, sexuality, masculinity and femininity, abuse (physical, emotional, substance), national security, patriotism, patriarchy, feminism, and now sexism have all been addressed in some form. If you’re not watching for it, some of these may actually be missed.
Shonda can’t say that there are no lessons learned with a straight face, and y’all can’t sit here and tell me that you believe her on that score either. That chick be trippin’ and she got y’all trippin’ along with her.
I see the points that have repeatedly been made with regards to Olivia being referred to as a “whore.” I can’t say that I necessarily disagree with the assessments, but from my vantage point, I believe (as you say above) that this is done by design. Is this “slut-shaming” intentional? I wouldn’t go so far as to say that “most viewers sorta accept it as status quo” since we have no evidence to really back that up. The only person calling Olivia a whore on repeat is Mellie, and there is nothing in the text suggesting that Olivia sells her sexual favors or is even promiscuous.
So is Mellie really “slut-shaming” Olivia or behaving as a wrathful wife? Is Mellie endearing herself to a large segment of viewers by repeatedly calling Olivia a “whore”? It’s already gotten tired. And who’s going to “check” Mellie on this? Olivia or Fitz?
Olivia has asked not to be referred to as such with the condition that it not be to her face. Why didn’t she say for Mellie to never call her this? Could it be that at times Olivia does feel like his whore? Could it be that she understands the place from which it is coming from with Mellie and takes the insult because she feels somewhat remorseful about the situation? And what’s Fitz going to say to check Mellie? That’s the only barb Mellie has against Olivia, so she’s being allowed to have her way with it. That’s how I’m seeing it anyway.
I don’t think the presence of “whore” in the episode negates the above scene. Both can coexist in one space. To me, it makes glaringly obvious the irony that is Mellie in that she calls Olivia a “whore”, yet she was the one who was more than willing to whore her pride, her marriage and her husband in order to retain her position as First Lady.
I understand that Rhimes can be cheeky and that her statements can get taken out of context but the “no lessons learned” was a direct response to a twitter question posed about why Huck’s and Jake’s violence towards Olivia hasn’t been addressed. I doubt Rhimes would be cheeky about such a serious topic. And no, I don’t believe that there are no lessons learned on Scandal, but I took that tweet at face value and I believe that Rhimes believes that there are no lessons learned on Scandal, and that Scandal isn’t a morality play. Lol well I can trip out all I want, but I’d like to believe that the visionary behind Scandal isn’t tripping or else we’re in trouble.
There’s nothing in the text suggesting that Olivia sold sexual favours, but other characters have referred to Olivia in terms that demonize her sexuality. Rowan’s speech to Olivia about lifting up her skirt and opening her knees to a man with too much power, Cyrus’ team talking about Olivia lining them up and working her way up the totem pole. Again, I’m sure it’s intentional on the part of the writers, but you have all these characters (including Olivia herself) driving home the Olivia is a whorey whore who whores point, and not one character pushes back against that characterization.
Right, I mean short of conducting my own study I can’t be sure that most people are accepting it as the status quo. I can only draw my own conclusions when I have yet to see any critique of Mellie’s “whore” refrain, outside of a minority of us on tumblr, it seems to me that nobody is interested in examining it though a critical lens. I mean…the woman behind the Feminist Ryan Gosling meme writes the Vulture recaps, if anyone were to come at it from that angle it would be her, but nope. And my takeaway from this is that people don’t care to critique because on some subconscious level, we think that it’s Mellie’s right as the scorned wife to call Olivia a whore, that Olivia shouldn’t defend herself against the verbal denigration because she’s the mistress. That so many people ( again, just from what I observe on twitter and in dicussions with friends who are casual fans) seem to have no response to this “whore” refrain is troubling to me, and I’m inclined to believe that it’s because such behaviour towards Olivia has been normalized.
I think Olivia does sometimes think of herself as Fitz’s whore, as his dirty little secret so she buys into the idea that it’s not her place to check Mellie. What I find problematic is that none of the surrounding characters address Mellie’s whore comments. Not even Fitz. I’m left scratching my head because if Fitz can come to Mellie’s defense when Cy is berating her for having a big mouth, surely he would have said something, anything, about Mellie repeatedly calling Olivia a whore? If Fitz would give up his presidency to be with Olivia, to convince her that she’s not his dirty little secret or his mistress, surely it must irk him to hear Olivia constantly referred to as a whore? Idk…character-wise, it makes no sense to me.
Right, I didn’t mean to imply that the presence of “whore” negates the above scene. It just rang a bit hollow to me in retrospect. And the media recaps and reviews that followed just reminded me that Olivia’s feminism isn’t praised in the same way that Mellie’s or Josie’s feminism is praised.
Also, it’s frustrating to watch Olivia constantly subjugate herself in Mellie’s presence. I don’t need Olivia to win and be strong all the time, but I would like to see some character growth. Before Fitz’s SOTU speech Olivia stands there and just takes it while Mellie is basically implying that Olivia is Fitz’s whore. Understandable that Olivia would react this way. S1E7, Olivia again just passively accepts it as Mellie castigates Olivia for having failed at her job of being Fitz’s whore. Fine, Olivia needs Mellie’s cooperation. In the season 3 premiere Olivia musters up a meek request to not call her a whore when she’s around. I guess you could argue that Olivia’s request speaks to some growth, but it didn’t seem like it to me. It just further reaffirmed that Olivia thinks of herself as Fitz’s whore and that she deserves it. It’s troublesome to me that Olivia has been stuck in the same mindset from when she left the campaign trail to the point that we’re at now. At some point, there has to be a change in this dynamic because it’s getting tired.
"There’s nothing in the text suggesting that Olivia sold sexual favours, but other characters have referred to Olivia in terms that demonize her sexuality."
Seemingly in the same manner that the sexuality of the black woman is routinely demonized? There is a perceived power in a woman’s sexuality, particularly in that of a black woman, that is threatening to who hold a particular world view. I’ll leave it at that.
“the woman behind the Feminist Ryan Gosling meme writes the Vulture recaps, if anyone were to come at it from that angle it would be her, but nope.”
I have no idea who this person is, but generally speaking, if those writing recaps are unable to acknowledge something because it is invisible to them, how can you expect them to address it? This reminds me of how some writers approached the whole “you have to work twice as hard to get half of what they have” that Rowan delivered to Olivia in 301. That went over the heads of many, but struck home for those who are familiar with the refrain.
“And my takeaway from this is that people don’t care to critique because on some subconscious level, we think that it’s Mellie’s right as the scorned wife to call Olivia a whore, that Olivia shouldn’t defend herself against the verbal denigration because she’s the mistress. That so many people ( again, just from what I observe on twitter and in dicussions with friends who are casual fans) seem to have no response to this “whore” refrain is troubling to me, and I’m inclined to believe that it’s because such behaviour towards Olivia has been normalized.”
Do you think maybe your reaction is what was intended? That maybe as audience members we should be asking ourselves these kinds of questions and be outraged by the lack of response that comes when things like this transpire? Calling someone a whore IS normalized. Calling and viewing a black woman as a whore has long been an acceptable image/idea. It is time to change that.
"And the media recaps and reviews that followed just reminded me that Olivia’s feminism isn’t praised in the same way that Mellie’s or Josie’s feminism is praised."
Who are the people writing the recaps?
"It just further reaffirmed that Olivia thinks of herself as Fitz’s whore and that she deserves it. It’s troublesome to me that Olivia has been stuck in the same mindset from when she left the campaign trail to the point that we’re at now. At some point, there has to be a change in this dynamic because it’s getting tired."
Given what we have come to know about Olivia thus far, are you arguing that it is wrong for her to view herself in such a way or to feel the way that she does? I do agree that it is frustrating as a viewer and I’d much prefer for her to stand up for herself when such is tossed in her direction, but given how much we have been shown of Olivia’s need to be tied to this “white hat” concept, my feeling is that she believes that she deserves this word being leveled at her. She may on some level understand that this isn’t her and that her relationship with Fitzgerald is far more than people from the outside comprehend, but I do think that her lack of response to the word is in keeping with her character.
Now to backtrack to the “no lessons learned” statement, I can’t speak to why Shonda chose to respond to that tweet in the manner that she did, but the situation with Jake in 218 was left intentionally ambiguous to me. Did he push her or did she fall from struggling with him in her panic? Based of what we have seen since, it would seem like the writers have settled on it being the latter. At the time that the incident transpired, we were left to view Jake a particular way. I, too, thought he had violently pushed her to the ground, but have since pulled away from that because there has been no material to support this point of view.
As for what happened with Huck, it would be nice if Olivia had addressed his behavior, even if it is for the benefit of the audience. However, at the same time, from a character point of view, selectively moving on from ugliness that has been afflicted upon her seems to be an active thing for Olivia. This could be one of her character flaws that she must overcome before she can experience true happiness. I don’t know.
As perturbed as I was by seeing these things on my screen, I took everything that followed it in to help me understand the characters’ reactions (or lack thereof) as indications as to how I should move forward with it.
Scandal is not a show that imparts lessons. If you take lessons away from it, or recognize some truth in it, then great. But it’s no moral compass for life. I think it offers up really timely and controversial things for us to inspect. And what’s true for one character may not be the same for another—even of the same gender. An there’s a hypocrisy in that which I find intentional because really, WE (society) are hypocritical and have double standards. It makes us uncomfortable to see that reflected back at us sometimes.
I love your commentary on this Katrina. It sounds like you have really articulated what SR meant by “no lessons learned” from Scandal. I am still struggling to get my head around this especially when I believe that there teachable opportunities on this show. Also, the repeated use of the word “whore” for the main African American character with little to no response or exploration seems short-sighted to me. She tried with the Sally Hemmings/Thomas Jefferson dialog, but the dynamic has been unchecked since then.
I will stay tuned to Scandal in hopes that Olivia confronts this whore label head on. This is not exactly a “John Edwards- like” situation, and Olivia is no Rielle Hunter.
Thanks. Olivia already confronted the “whore” label when she was in the same room with Mellie. She told her not to use that word to her face. Did you think someone like Mellie was going to stop using it all together? No way. That’s like telling racist people to bothies the word ‘nigger’. Do you think they’ll not use it in your absence just because you said so? No when they have no other way to validate themselves except to demean you with nasty epithets.
So people need to pay attention to what the characters use of the word says about the character of Mellie, NOT about Olivia. I’ve written about it twice now, so it’s no use jumping on the multiple posts with people getting outraged about it. I think their anger is misdirected.
Ladies this is SPOT-ON commentary!
3.05 || 3.06
This moment happened!! And it’s okay that it ended as it did. For me, it was okay.
I was screaming because they didnt say hi! This entire episode what is going on? I’m ruined by this. I’m glad neither caved but it was truly painful.
I think that was the intent. That’s why I liked it. (…Yeah, I’m weird. LOL!).
They better not had had a #Hi moment at this point. They are both tackling a matter that was and still remained unresolved. It’s tricky because she wants answers to a mystery she has no idea existed, and he can’t give them to her for a variety of reasons (national security being number 1, followed by her physical and emotional protection). It hurt and frustrated her that he remained steadfast in not giving her an answer, and it hurt him that he couldn’t give her what she wanted. I like that he stood his ground as he rightfully should have.
I feel you tho.
There was never going to be a “hi” because there was no openness. The “hi” signals that they are dropping there defenses and are open to listening to one another. I knew the time had not come for that in this scene.
Agreed. Hi always signals letting the other one in. So this was not the time.
AfterBuzz TV Recaps “Icarus.”
#Scandal Cartoon - “Icarus” by KevOnStage
Gladiators, check out the latest #ScandalRevealed Podcast with Joe Morton.
I need an answer… I’m not asking about the details. I’m not asking you to compromise national security. I’m asking, is it a lie?. Are you lying about your military record?. Are you lying to me?
President Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III - #Scandal