Over-the-top. Melodramatic. Formulaic.
This is how some reviewers have described ABC's new show "Scandal," which premieres tonight on ABC. Given that the "Big Bang Theory," the CBS hit about a group of nerds at Caltech, is one of the few shows on network television that I watch, "Scandal" doesn't exactly sound like my cup of tea. I feel compelled to give the show a chance, however, because it marks the first time in three decades that a black woman has starred in an hour-long show on one of the Big 3 television networks. The last such show was 1974's "Get Christie Love," the story of a black policewoman, which also aired on ABC. I've never even heard of that show and was shocked to find out when "Scandal" star Kerry Washington appeared on "The View" today that it had been so long since a black woman was featured as the lead in a network drama.
Given the influence that popular culture has on the public, it's crucial that mainstream films and TV shows reflect the diversity of the United States. Some ethnic minority groups have never been featured as the leads in a sitcom or a drama. TV shows may not be real life, but they're still important because they have the ability to change people's perceptions. "The Cosby Show," for example, will always be remembered for showing a loving, intact, upper middle class black family. Before it aired, some people didn't know that such black families existed.
During an age when the mainstream media often paints black women as unattractive and unfeminine shrews, Kerry Washington may change some perceptions via her character Olivia Pope, the woman the rich and powerful consult to make their troubles go away in times of crisis. She's a far cry away from the unwed black mother reaching for handouts that conservative politicians have tried to resurrect in their political campaigns this year. But she's also not perfect. Turns out the woman who fixes scandals has her own scandal to worry about. Olivia Pope is having an affair--and not just with anyone--with the president of the United States.