May 11, 2012

Scandal's Olivia Pope: Master or Slave?

Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope

If you aren't watching the weekly Shonda Rhimes show "Scandal", you might not know Olivia Pope. But, from the buzz on Facebook and other Internet sites, Olivia is causing a stir and her fame is growing. My daughters and I are avid fans. As with everything, there are pros and cons about Olivia, Kerry Washington, and the plot points in every episode. Clutch Magazine featured the show in a recent post, "Is Olivia Pope the New Sally Hemings?".

Well, in case you aren't familiar with the show, let me clue you in on some of the major story lines and issues. (I'll make sure to avoid spoilers.) Scandal’s Olivia Pope is based on Judy Smith, a Black woman who was a “fixer” from the Bush administration. Smith is also the show's co-producer. Actress Kerry Washington portrays Olivia, a strong, smart, capable, and successful business woman with the uncanny ability to handle distasteful, stressful situations. It appears that this beautiful woman holds the heart of the unhappy, married Republican who gained his presidency through Olivia's successful campaign strategies.

The movie, "Sally Hemings: An American Scandal" tells the story of the extraordinary, controversial thirty-eight-year relationship between Thomas Jefferson and his slave mistress. Thus, Clutch Magazine's references Olivia Pope as (possibly) the New Sally Hemings.

Now on with the discussion. I was surprised when I read the Clutch article and I had to decide whether the writer, Stacia L. Brown, was genuine in her concerns or if, as with so many others, her article was designed to antagonize so as to provoke comment. She writes:

As soapy and sensationalistic as this show is, it’s hard for me to entirely lose myself in it. I’m too distracted by this idea that, for all her gutsy unflappable-ness, and for all her intimidating, unflinching command in the face of an employee or opponent, the married president happens to be her weakness. Even if it weren’t too convenient a plot point, revealed far too early on, it’d still stick in my craw. One of the reasons why is that I can’t seem to view this show through an un-racialized lens.
This show is giving me too many shades of Sally Hemings. I can’t.
As an avid romance reader and writer of materials in the romance genre, I know that it is critical for the reader to suspend belief and accept the author's storyline.  Otherwise, it is impossible to accept the plot and any premise the author proposes. Therefore, I understand Stacia's negative reactions. Personally, as I watch each show, I find entertainment in the romantic struggle, as well as in the "scandals" that surface and are abated by Olivia and her crew. The power displayed by Olivia in every situation makes it easy for me to believe she's a woman in love. She follows her heart when she must. I find neither the president nor Olivia blameless, but I easily understand the human emotions that they struggle to overcome.

Olivia is no slave, rather she is master of her fate.

Watch Scandal, then share your comment...Olivia Pope: Master or Slave.



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