TV Politics and Proximate Justice
Kerry Washington in 'Scandal'

Scandal, ABC's blockbuster bananas political melodrama, returns for the back half of its third season on February 27. Frequently the most-tweeted-about show in America, Scandal focuses on the adventures (political and otherwise) of Washington's best fixer, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and her cabal of "gladiators in suits." Pope is having a torrid affair with the sitting Republican president (Tony Goldwyn). His wife, Mellie (Bellamy Young) is equal parts conniving and fragile, topped only by his closeted gay advisor Cyrus Beene (Jeff Young), who's married to a White House reporter, whom he essentially whored out to the Bible-thumping vice president's husband . . . let's just say, watching the show is never dull.

Scandal's showrunner is Shonda Rhimes, who also created Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice. Her show makes the wackadoodle antics of House of Cards' second season seem totally plausible. And it's working: in a world where Parks & Recreation gets 2.5 million viewers, Mad Men gets 3.4 million, and Game of Thrones pulls in 4.4 million, Scandal's audience routinely tops a whopping 8.3 million, crossing traditional demographic barriers like race and economic bracket (though the fact it's on network TV rather than cable has to help).

All this is fascinating, because in a TV landscape crowded with redonkulous political shows, Scandal stands out for its absolute commitment to be entertainment. Several of the performances—Kerry Washington in particular—have won accolades from viewers and critics. But the show only sort of even tries to trick you into thinking this is the real D.C., instead settling for some cross between junior high school and The Tudors, ...

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Watch This Way
How we watch matters at least as much as what we watch. TV and movies are more than entertainment: they teach us how to live and how to love one another, for better or worse. And they both mirror and shape our culture.
Alissa Wilkinson
Alissa Wilkinson is Christianity Today's chief film critic and assistant professor of English and humanities at The King's College in New York City. She lives in Brooklyn.
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TV Politics and Proximate Justice
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