In about a week, ABC will premiere the season opener for Scandal, a drama created and executive produced by Shonda Rhimes of Grey’s Anatomy fame. And while I’ll definitely be watching it for all the reasons that most people become invested in shows – the great writing, the outstanding cast, the cliffhanger season finale, the drama and intrigue, etc… – I’ll also be watching because there’s a part of me that feels a certain obligation to do so.
Now, here me out – that obligation is NOT why I love this show. I love this show because it’s got all the great drama and sexy scandals I love from Grey’s Anatomy (one of my fav shows!) mixed with the political flair of the Nation’s Capitol. I also love it because it’s smart without seeming like it’s talking down to its audience, it keeps you on your toes and makes you pay attention to every detail, however small. And honestly, I love it because Kerry Washington is so damn fabulous!
And here’s where that piece of obligation comes in to play (at least for me as a writer and as someone who is friends with many people who want to follow in Shonda Rhimes’ footsteps).
Real quick – do me a favor and name another hour long drama on network TV where the main character is a black woman.
Don’t worry. I’ll give you some time to think about it.
No, Glee doesn’t count. Mercedes was never the lead character, and while Glee may be an hour long, it’s not really a drama.
Got nothing? You give up? Yeah, exactly my point. Now, I’m not saying that a show has to have a black woman lead character in order for me to like it (heck, often the shows I like don’t have any), but when I see Kerry on this show?? I don’t know, it just does something for me. I look at her and think ‘not only is she complex and fly and ridiculously smart and sexy and all things amazing, but she’s black too?! YESSSS!!!’
Maybe that’s not politically correct to say, but it’s true. And in this time of media where it seems to be harder and harder to find black and brown faces on scripted dramas (on network and cable TV), it’s not only refreshing but important to see it happening so successfully on Scandal. If my Twitter timeline and Facebook Newsfeed are any indication, there are a lot of people waiting in anticipation for the fall season to begin.
I don’t want to put any undue pressure on Ms. Rhimes, because it’s certainly not her responsibility to do anything but make good TV. But I’m glad that she has made a consistent effort to show the diversity of this country on all her shows. And it never feels forced. It never feels stereotypical. Just like Cristina Yang on Grey’s is all these other attributes besides being Asian, so Kerry Washington’s character is all these things besides being Black. Except they both are Asian and Black respectively. It’s important just for them to be who they are. Neither character hides from it, nor is defined by it. But it’s there, and it seems seamless and real.
So yes, I’ll be watching Scandal next week and the weeks to come because it’s absolutely amazing. But I’ll also be watching because I’d love to see even more complex Black women in dramas on TV, and the success of Scandal might just be the vehicle to make that happen.
PS: Thanks to some of my amazing readers, Choices, Voices, and Sole was nominated in 4 categories for the Black Weblog Awards. Please take a moment to head over to their page to vote for yours truly in the following categories: Best Writing in a Blog, Best Personal Blog, Best Blog Post Series (for the Shoe Stories) and Best Sex or Relationship Blog. You can vote here –> Black Weblog Awards voting page. Semi-finalist voting ends October 1, 2012.