TV Review: Scandal Series 4

celebrates the twisty Washington corruption drama… and its anti-heroine, Olivia Pope

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★★★★☆

With this term being full of essays and exams, it seems ridiculous to binge watch a box set. Unless that box set is Scandal. Launched three years ago, Scandal has now hit its fourth series and has proven itself above the standard US network show. The show centres on Olivia Pope, a stunning crisis management God in perfect suits with perfect hair. In her previous career, she was the woman who managed to get the United States President elected before beginning an illicit affair with him. Each episode shows Olivia and her crisis management team doing their best to represent a new client, whether it’s a madam looking to exploit her client list or a millionaire’s son accused of rape. No week is the same.

The relationship between Olivia and President Fitzgerald ‘Fitz’ Grant dominates centre stage in the majority of episodes, yet this is more than The West Wing. Whilst Aaron Sorkin’s series centred on the White House as a romantic dream, Scandal proves that being the President is anything but dreamlike. Corruption and power are everything. Olivia entangles the President in her schemes through a series of jaw-dropping revelations and actions. Cyrus Beene, the White House Chief of Staff, is just as guilty and would kill, lie, and manipulate to keep his position. In fact, it was the aforementioned techniques which got Fitz elected, as we discovered in a high action episode.

Olivia’s team are just are flawed and it shines through every week. Tech guy Huck was a former black ops marine whose past involves torturing and murdering individuals; the suave Harrison served time in jail for insider training; loyal Abby has a past involving a brutal husband; and new girl Quinn isn’t as innocent as she first seems.

Whilst season one introduces us to these characters, the rest of the seasons branch out into their histories by bringing in new characters. A certain mention should go to Bellamy Young as Mellie Grant, the First Lady of the United States. Her ice-cold wit and cunning makes her a worthy rival for her husband’s ‘mistress’ Olivia Pope; not that Pope doesn’t have her own charm. Kerry Washington plays the character with poise and her wardrobe is definitely to die for. She delivers her lines with raw emotion and the dialogue is empowering.

Shonda Rhimes, Scandal’s creator, deserves all the success and praise which she has received so far. She has created the first black female lead on US television, who just so happens to be a flawed anti-heroine. There will be times when you disagree with Olivia; when you want her to change her mind or realise that she is wrong. Scandal is full of characters you will love to hate, and characters you will just genuinely love during certain episodes. The most poignant episode features Huck as he relives his previous life before Olivia took him under her wing and saved him from life as a tramp on the subway. As the seasons continue, you learn more and more as the skeletons come out of the cupboard.

Scandal is not without its flaws, however. Which TV show isn’t? It sometimes goes over the top with its revelations and the plotting is often ridiculous and so immoral that it is difficult to believe someone could be so corrupt. But it all works. Somehow it is all believable to a certain level. Scandal shows an imperfect White House, full of power-hungry individuals. It makes for perfect viewing.

 

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