“Scandal” is great for diversity. I’m not talking about celebrity drama or gossip about Justin Bieber or any other high-profile entertainer or athlete. I’m talking about Shonda Rhimes’ latest TV behemoth, “Scandal,” starring Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, crisis management expert. So, while there is drama and lots of high-profile faces, it’s all fictional.
There are several reasons why this series is a boon for diversity. The most important one is that despite its diverse cast, with a black woman as its lead, rarely does anyone talk about race.
To be clear, I don’t think anyone should shy away from race or diversity discussions. I’m a firm believer in calling a spade a spade, since to dance around the obvious can create as many problems, if not more, as confronting the truth. But Olivia is soooo non-stereotypical. She’s: strong without being a loud, neck-swiveling drama queen; well-spoken without sounding as though she’s trying to use big words to hide a tendency toward ebonics; elegant in a natural way that suggests her clothes are reflective of her style and personality, not patched together in an attempt to fit in; feminine and vulnerable, without appearing weak or too sexy; and she’s child-free, so there’s no cute little person to act as a convenient tool with which to solicit sympathy or to attract a wider audience.
Olivia is a well-rounded, complete person who is flawed, relatable and even pretty. That she is all of those things, and no one feels the need to point it out and pat her on the back for being black too? It’s wonderful — phenomenal, really.
The second reason “Scandal” is fabulous for diversity is because at its core there is the ultimate example of integration: an interracial couple. I’m not suggesting that love pairs of this type are some kind of cure-all for inclusion ills, though I have considered how if all the races were to intermarry and procreate to the point where we could no longer tell black from white or brown from yellow or red that would put paid to a good bit of our current diversity angst. But the appeal of this particular pairing, moral quandaries aside, is that it’s difficult, it’s hard to maintain, but it’s also passionate, mutually supportive and beneficial in measurable ways, and in its way, it’s quite charming. There’s good with the bad, and these two people care for and trust each other. Together they are more than they are alone, just as many teams with diverse members are stronger as a collective than they are as separate individuals.
Granted Fitz, played by Tony Goldwyn, seems to be getting a better shake since he’s the beneficiary of much of Olivia’s brilliance, but who knows what’s coming down the pike? I’m going to make a prediction and suggest that the tide will turn and Olivia will be the recipient of some very presidential largesse.
Meantime, we can all enjoy a little “Scandal,” and consider that what we think about certain races, or genders for that matter, is likely not all there is. Everyone, regardless of ethnicity or any other external characteristic, can be a heck of a lot more than you might expect.