I first heard about Scandal through the countless promotional trailers played on TV. They did not give much detail about the show except to highlight Kerry Washington’s prime role as Olivia Pope, crisis fixer extraordinaire. Despite the huge media coverage, I resisted temptation and stayed away from Scandal. However in the months after my exams, I found myself faced with days filled with infinite time and no TV shows to fill it. So in the year 2013, of the month of July, I broke. Three days later, I emerged from a haze of political intrigue and scandalous affairs a true blue Gladiator. In three words, I was hooked.
I feel the need to emphasize Scandal was not perfect. It was deeply flawed from the ridiculous plots to the repetitive writing style and finally the minimal character development. However, I loved the series. Scandal effortlessly accomplished what so many TV shows fail so epically at: creating diversity without having it look like a marketing ploy. I enjoyed Scandal for many reasons, but I mainly (and admit honestly) watched the show for Fitz and Olivia or as we shippers call them, OLITZ. After my scandalous marathon I spent a lot of time obsessing over their crazy-over the top declaration of love. I spent hours Youtubing their moments together, reading Tumblr posts about this couple and re-tweeting tweets about the pairing. I was one of the millions of fans that could not get enough of their all consuming, all in, passionate love story. Like an addict, I craved for OLITZ feels.
Olivia: My whole life is you. I can’t breathe because I’m waiting for you. You own me. You control me. I belong to you.
Fitz: I love you. I am in love with you. You’re the love of my life. My every feeling is controlled by the look on your face. I can’t breathe without you. I can’t sleep without you. I wait for you. I watch for you. I exist for you.
Then something happened. I had to wait for season 3 to premier. And damn was it a long wait. During my Scandal free months, having the temptation removed from my sight, my cravings for OLITZ sadly came to a spluttering halt. So much so, by the time October rolled around, I no longer had a cloud of emotions obscuring my sight and I began to see the light. I watched the season premier of season 3 with horror as I saw my OLITZ for what it really was: an abusive, possessive, and honestly rather scary relationship.
Olivia: I’m done. I told you I was done. We’re over.
Fitz: We are not over. We are never going to be over. I’m never going to be over you.
Olivia, the strong, independent, no-bullshit woman, with a soft spot for only one man was no longer inspirational to me. In fact, I started seeing her as a woman fully controlled by a narcissistic, pathetic cheat of a man. A man unable to manage his personal life let alone a country and whose best ability is making empty promises to the woman he claims is the love of his life. Sadly, that was only not what I started noticing. Mellie Grant, the faithful and ever loyal wife of Fitz, was not the horrible political monster she was consistently referred to as. Instead I saw her as a real victim of abuse at the hand of her husband. Fitz continuously tortured and mocked her every attempt at building an emotional bond between them. He easily dismisses her deep unhappiness in their marriage and throws his affair in her face any chance he gets. It dawned on me then: this man I had once loved with a fiery passion was nothing more than a misogynistic hypocrite who treated women like they were his playthings.
The sad truth is the series had great potential to be something more than it currently is. They have a strong lead African- American woman; a ruthless Republican press secretary that happens to be gay and finally the main couple is an interracial one. However, despite this diversity the series reeks and drips with male dominance and patriarchy. Re-watching this show with my head rather than heart has made me aware of the sad truth about OLITZ. Olivia Pope is motivated only by her bizarre need to satisfy Fitz, a man who continually proves himself unworthy of such blind devotion. The writers’ refusal to expand Olivia’s motivation emphasizes this dangerous idea that even the most dominant and strongest of women will always succumb to the desire of men. In most episodes there will most likely be a scene in which Olivia desperately screams NO to Fitz but he chooses to not listen. He shrugs off her rejection and ends their dispute by violently pulling her to him (despite her protesting) and giving her a life-changing “passionate” kiss.
Olivia: I don’t want normal and easy and simple. I want painful, difficult, devastating, life-changing, extraordinary love.
I like many others was deluded into believing a relationship like OLITZ is not only acceptable but also desirable. It was even aspirational to me. And that is my biggest issue with Scandal. The writers have woven an abusive relationship so naturally into the series, added a tinge of sparkle to the relationship and decided to call it “love”. Their clear insistence of forcing this devastating, difficult and painful version of “love” down viewers’ throats and deceiving fans into calling it passion is honestly JUST NOT RIGHT. It demeans the very serious problem of domestic violence and only adds to the dysfunctional view that all love is worth fighting for, never mind the physical and emotional torture you suffer because of it.
Scandal needs to stop with its grand delusions of love and accept its societal obligation to educate fans.
It’s time to take a clear stance: Violence is never okay.