On Scandal: Why the sistahs love it so much


Every Thursday night, my Facebook newsfeed overflows with posts about Shonda Rhimes’ new hit television series, Scandal, now in its second season on ABC.   Like black women all over America, I wait with bated breath to see what Fitz, the President of the United States, will do to win back the love of his life, political strategist and crisis management maven, Olivia Pope.  At 10 o’clock Eastern Standard Time, the wait is over and I go radio silent for the next hour.  No texts, no Tweets, nothing.  I am still convinced that I heard an audible, swoon-laden sigh exhaled by black women all across the nation when, after summoning Olivia to meet him in the middle of the woods during a hunting trip, Fitz stooped down to lace her boots while standing in front of the Secret Service, not caring what anyone saw or thought.

The forbidden love affair between Olivia and Fitz has become the topic de jour in many of my social circles.  During one recent “recap” session, a friend made the very surprising statement that her brother believes black women are in love with Scandal because we all secretly want a rich white man with power to sweep us off our feet.   I laughed, disagreed profusely and countered that if anything, all white men secretly want a sistah by their sides, or at least in their beds.  But then other women in the group began to share their experiences with dating successful white men.

The consensus seemed to be that these women felt more appreciated by their white lovers than they had when dating black men.   Many of them explained that they felt this way because the white men they had dated were not intimidated by the ambition or success they they’d experienced in their lives and careers.  As I listened, I wondered whether my friend’s brother was actually on to something: were we all secretly waiting for our white knight in shining armor to rescue us from singledom?

But, as the conversation progressed, it became increasingly clear that race had nothing to do with what the women really wanted in a relationship.   They wanted security and reciprocity.  They wanted to feel safe.  They needed the freedom to express themselves fully in their professions as well as in the bedroom.  They wanted support, to feel beautiful, and to know that when times get hard, they have a man who has their back as much as they would if the situation were reversed.  When we got right down to it, they were seeking unconditional love, just as we all do.  What they really wanted was for someone to accept them without question, and that is a basic right that transcends, race, age, or gender.

So to answer the question as to why black women are so in love with Scandal, it is because we too want someone who will risk everything to hold our hand for just one minute, call just to hear us breathe, and tie our shoes when needed.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Ms. Rhimes, and her team of amazing writers, create plots filled with endless twists and turns!  And if sistah can get her fill of being in love with love and add a little spice to life in 60 minutes on an a weeknight, what isn’t there to love about Scandal?

5 thoughts on “On Scandal: Why the sistahs love it so much

  1. I think the desires of a lot of ladies are based in feelings of security. And many of them have been ingrained with the idea that the men who can more easily provide that are vanilla. So rather than go against the grain and not play into the lopsided history of this country that has led to this predicament, they simply will do what is best for them solely.

    1. I agree to a certain extent. Where our beliefs begin to differ is that women have been taught that black men are not or cannot be good providers. I think once a woman’s biological clock starts ticking is when she begins to explore more options and become more open minded to dating men of different races. It’s something black men have been doing way longer than we have, and we’re just playing catch up so to speak.

  2. I don’t agree with the “black men are not good providers” stuff. I come from a family that is overwhelmingly male: brothers, uncles, cousins, nephews, and now grandsons and grand-nephews. Somehow, we “overproduce” men in my family. By and large, our guys are not irresponsible and are good family men; very few of them have acted like the stereotypes we are bombarded with non-stop. I believe black men have gotten a bad rap and a reputation that is not uniformly deserved. Plus, once you have sons (all I have are sons) you really understand and appreciate men. Men can be amazing and are totally different from women in all of the profound ways, so I would not expect them to understand why women looooove Scandal. I believe that the reasons for Scandal’s popularity has to do with the deft writing and storytelling as well as the production values of the drama, which are first rate, the spectacularly talented cast, and the compelling love story, which is central to drama. Every woman I know wants to be wanted that way; understood, appreciated, desired, respected and needed — and have the object of your desire express it repeatedly, unflinchingly, and forcefully. For God’s sake, an intelligent, powerful –and beautiful — man tells you he loves you to distraction, that he can’t breathe without you — that his whole life goes off kilter when you are not in it — what women doesn’t get faint just thinking about that — what’s not to love about that? It’s a fantasy, but it’s a well done one. We watch and dream.

  3. If scandal is so good why aren’t other women talking about it. Black women say they just love the story and it’s not about race, but what are the subliminal messages this show portrays, I rather be with the slave master, then the black brother who proposed to her. The black family doesn’t mean shit to me no more.

    1. I understand what you are saying and struggling with the subliminal messages myself. However, I also like the other story lines, even though Olivia is the main character, they are all so flawed but they hold each other together. I would have loved to have seen her actually marry the black senator and do hate that she’s the mistress of not just a white man, but that she’s agreeing to be second to any woman when she deserves more. I think they wanted to make it complex and as real as possible because real life is messy at times.

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