If Revenge and The Good Wife (two of my favorite dramas) had a hot steamy affair their lovechild would be Scandal. This show, which premiered on ABC at 10pm with a lead in from Grey’s Anatomy, to modest ratings, is the first show in a long-time to have me really excited! Kerry Washington is superb as Olivia Pope, the high- powered lead and head of a crisis management firm, and is certainly one to watch.
Scandal is the latest series brought to us by Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and the short-lived Off the Map– three shows I lovingly watch/watched) so I knew I could count on a few things- a strong ensemble cast, beautiful people, interesting characters (with interesting character flaws), drama, comedy, story-lines based in reality, a fictional world willing to stretch the truth, and quick-witted banter!
Scandal drew in 7.33 million viewers, with 2.1 in the coveted 18-49 demographic. Not a smash hit, but a steady start that, in my opinion, is sure to spread as quick as a juicy, well…scandal!
We open in a bar where suave Harrison Wright (Columbus Short) is recruiting newbie Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes) to work at Olivia Pope & Associates. Quinn initially thinks she has been set up on a blind date but quickly transforms from the girl with an edge to the doey-eyed innocent who jumps at the chance to work for the woman she idolizes. But as with all idols, sometimes meeting them in person isn’t exactly what you’d expect. Warned that she needs to be “a gladiator in a suit”, Quinn soon finds herself at the offices of Pope which includes her team- lawyer Stephen Finch (Henry Ian Cusick), investigator Abby Whelan (Darby Stanchfield), and techie Huck (Guillermo Diaz).
The first client we meet is Sully St. James (Wes Brown) a decorated war hero, who makes his living as the poster boy for the military and the conservative wing. He shows up at the teams’ offices covered in blood and claims he came home to find his girlfriend, and best friend, dead with three bullets to the head. Olivia believes him despite her teams’ obvious doubts and we begin on the journey of “her gut is never wrong”- a clear theme for the new series. Finch, Whelan, and Wright set off to get Pope the information she needs to do her job because at this firm, “We are not lawyers. In this moment, we are the judge, they jury, the media, and the public opinion.” Their job is to make their clients problems go away. Period.
Meanwhile, a second, and more central plotline has come into play. The President of the Unites States, Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn, Actor/Director who has directed several episodes of Grey’s) has called upon Pope to come to his aide. Pope had formerly worked as his Communications Director but left for reasons which are later revealed to be…well, lets just say personal. The President sends his closest advisor Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry, also a Grey’s alumni) to ask for Pope’s help to quiet a looming Monica Lewinsky-esque scandal. After a direct look into Grant’s eyes (with stellar acting by Washington revealing layers of unspoken history), Pope decides to go with her gut and takes care of the intern…that is, until the girl turns up in the hospital after a suicide attempt.
SPOILER ALERT- We tie up the first episode with a reveal that Pope and Mr. President had more than just a working relationship and we see Pope question her gut for the first time, realizing she has allowed her feelings to cloud her judgment. (The Presidents’ tell: he called the intern “sweet baby”, his pet name for Pope during their affair). Our team finds our war hero Sully an alibi but he is forced to reveal to the public that he is actually gay. Our newbie Quinn, questions her commitment to the job, but is ready to put on her armor and suit up for the gladiator’s ring after a pep talk by Huck and a vote of confidence from Wright, saying that Pope “isn’t just a good guy, she’s the best guy”. In a small subplot, Finch proposes to his girlfriend with the urging of Pope to go after the dream- “the normal life”- the thing clearly no one at this firm has! Co-worker Whelan looks disappointed- an office romance obviously brewing. The final twist: Pope decides to take on the President’s intern as her newest client and warns that he better hope she doesn’t want to go public with this SCANDAL!!!
I’m ready for next week already! This show was an hour of jam-packed twists and turns fueled by complicated personal and working relationships. Kerry Washington shines as the tough as nails lead with more moxie than Capital Hill can handle. Her character manages to win the loyalty and trust of those around her, instill fears in those that cross her, and reveal vulnerabilities amongst her strength. Although she dominates every scene, her supporting cast was equally interesting and I look forward to seeing their characters grow, especially watching Quinn find her place amongst the group.
I think this show will be success; I have a good gut feeling.