What are some of the sure-fire indicators that a television show is red hot, as in “ratings going through the roof”?
- People are talking about the show everywhere the next day — on the job, in social media, in beauty shops, in barbershops, at schools, you name it.
- The start of the new season is very highly anticipated. (Many hard-core fans are practically salivating at just the thought.)
- The show elevates the stars to a much higher status level, no matter how popular they may have already been.
- The stage is set for other shows to emerge, usually not as imitators, but presented in the same spirit.
Season 5 of “Scandal” begins Sept. 24 and will have begun by the time this story reaches many readers.
Burnout? It’s way too soon for that.
WE ALL have our favorite elements of “Scandal.” Number one for me is the very audacity of show creator Shonda Rhimes having “Scandal” center primarily on highly skilled, super powerful “fixer” and former White House director of communications Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) having a relationship with the married president of the United States, Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn).
The fact that he is white and she is black is, of course, in the viewers’ face, but in the greater scheme of things it means little, if anything. No such character interaction would have been possible as recently as ten years ago.
Everything about the liaison is fascinating, including the fact that they are so hot for each other. Their love connection brings to mind the No. 1 hit from 1972 by Luther Ingram: “(If Loving You is Wrong) I Don’t Want to be Right.”
NEXT ON the list in terms of intrigue, this time involving stark fear, is Joe Morton as Rowan Pope, father of Oliva Pope. To say the least, their relationship is dysfunctional.
Mr. Pope was commanding officer for the CIA division of B613, but today is something altogether different, leader of an elite black military operations program who will, among other things, kill or have killed with barely a second thought. He is not someone you would want to cross or in any way get entangled with.
Morton plays the role such intensity and passionately — he fully deserves that Primetime Emmy Award — that it is frightening. You know that it’s not real, that it’s brilliantly crafted television fantasy, but Morton still manages to instill fear.
Rowan Pope’s cover is as a museum curator.
THE LINES between good and evil, honest and dishonest, and right and wrong get blurred a lot on “Scandal,” in fact, most of the time.
As Rhimes put it, “There are no good guys in Shondaland. You have three-dimensional, messy human beings. Nothing is perfect in Shondaland. People are real.”
Rhimes feels strongly that no character on “Scandal” should be thought of as a “role model.” Look elsewhere for those.
Even the stars and others in “Scandal” are very often surprised if not shocked by the scripts. So much so that when the actresses and actors are doing a table read, they frequently stop and say, “My character does what?” or “My character says what?” (Emphasis on “what.”)
The imaginations of Shonda Rhimes and her writers have no limits. There is no such thing as predictability on “Scandal.” And “Shondaland,” by the way, includes “How to Get Away with Murder,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and the upcoming legal thriller “The Catch.”
Rhimes has been and continues to be a financial bonanza for ABC. Companies are always lined up to advertise on her shows.
Interestingly, Gabrielle Union was also up for the role of Olivia Pope in “Scandal,” a much-awarded show that made its debut in April 2012 as a mid-season replacement.