-J. Michael Bestul is a writer for the
Addison Scandal-son Recorder. Stephanie Ruehl is an artist who works in a comic book shop. They’re married and have a lot of discussions about comic books and graphic novels television. Combine all that into a biweekly feauture and you get “J. & Steph Talk About Comics Scandal.”
-J.: Um, I’m not sure why this post is here. Our next J&STAC piece doesn’t go live until next week. I don’t know what we’re supposed to talk about or why we’ve changed the schedule.
Editor’s Note: The writers here at the Addison Recorder have decided to explore our new found love for the best show in recorded history, Scandal. Instead of writing an article or two, we have decided to rebrand ourselves as the Scandal-son Recorder. We hope you revel in our new-found, shared devotion.
-J.: Oh. Uh… I don’t actually know anything about this show. I don’t watch much TV. I have no idea what I’m doing here. Steph? Help?
Steph: I’ve watched the first season, but only a few episodes beyond that. We could talk with my sister.
-J.: Hey, yeah, she’s well-versed in TV and film. And she lives in Washington, DC, so that gives her deeper insight, right?
Steph: I thought you said you didn’t know anything about this show?
-J.: I don’t, but I’m writing this bit after we’ve already talked with your sister. It’s all non-linear storytelling and dramatic license and the magic of editing or something.
Getting a Clue
-J.: Okay, let’s start with the basics. Scandal. What is it?
Lindsey: Well, speaking as someone who lives in Washington, DC, monkey brains are always a scandal.
Steph: What’s always a scandal?
Lindsey: Monkey’s brains, though popular in Cantonese cuisine, are not often to be found in Washington, DC.
Steph: I know, that’s why I said “boo-urns.”
Lindsey: You’re boo-urnsing Clue?
Steph: We’re talking about Scandal, not Clue.
Lindsey: Yeah, but if you go back and you think about awesome scandal-based movies or TV shows, that are DC-oriented, I always go back to Clue. Because Clue is the bomb. And Scandal is awful.
Ye Liveliest Awfulness
-J.: Wait. If Scandal is awful, why are we talking about it? Why do people watch it? Why have you followed it for four seasons?
Lindsey: I watch it for Jeff Perry.
Steph: It wasn’t always awful…
Lindsey: It wasn’t always awful, and the last week’s episode brought back James, and showed James’ wedding to Cyrus…
Steph: Who’s James?
Lindsey: James. JAMES.
Steph: His husband? Who died?
Lindsey: Dan Bucatinsky, yes
Lindsey: So last week’s episode talks about Cyrus. Apparently this sex worker that he has had an affair with — that he’s fallen in love with, and proposed to — was hired by Mellie. Well, Portia DeRossi hires him, Michael, to find out dirt about Cyrus — they have ALL OF THE SEX.
-J.: I am very confused.
Lindsey: Do you want to know why I watch the show or not?
-J.: I think I’m supposed to, yes. So, do we follow Cyrus on this show?
Lindsey: Cyrus? He’s not the focus. Jeff Perry’s job on Scandal, as Cyrus Beene, is to munch the scenery. All of the scenery.
Steph: He does.
Lindsey: He eats all of the scenery, plus Michael. And then he has to propose to Michael, because there’s this whole thing about… scandal!
-J.: So, it was an actor that drew you into the show?
Lindsey: Really, the amount of scenery-chewing on the show, from Joe Morton, Jeff Perry, Guillermo Diaz, I can’t even, it’s… It is an acting 101, “Don’t Ever Do These Things” class.
Steph: But it didn’t start out that way.
Steph: It was okay, y’know, for a TV show about scandal in Washington, DC. It was okay.
Lindsey: True. Scandal in Washington, DC, where the Metro line is actually in Los Angeles. Because I live in DC, and our Metro lines are not this clean. Ever. And we’re not allowed to eat or drink on them…
-J.: I’m lost. Is that all this show is about?
Lindsey: Not eating in the Metro? Yes. That is exactly what it’s about.
The Pope in the White Hat
-J.: There’s got to be a central character, right? A protagonist we can follow throughout the seasons?
Steph: Who even knows any more.
Lindsey: Olivia Pope.
Steph: Yes, Olivia Pope. In the white hat.
Lindsey: Because she wears the white hat. …and, I’m sorry, but the woman drinks so much red wine—
Steph: –and her entire apartment and wardrobe is just… it’s all white.
Lindsey: EVERYTHING’S WHITE.
Steph: And there are no red spots, anywhere. There should be wine stains everywhere.
Lindsey: For the amount that she drinks, the fact that there isn’t a trail of wine–
-J.: Okay, so it’s about Olivia Pope.
Lindsey: And her Gladiators.
-J.: Her what?
Lindsey: Her employees.
Steph: Right, they call themselves the “Gladiators.” Olivia Pope has this agency that fixes problems.
Lindsey: Olivia Pope & Associates.
Steph: They fix the scandals, and they call themselves the Gladiators because they wear the white hats and do the right thing. But they never do.
Lindsey: Do gladiators wear white hats?
-J.: The gladiators were usually criminals, prisoners, or slaves who fought to the death for public spectacle.
Steph: Yeah, the idea is that this group “fights to the death” for its clients, but the white hat comes in as this symbol of, “we do the right thing.” But they never do the right thing.
-J.: And the show’s creators are aware of how that sounds?
Steph: They’re fully aware of what they’re doing.
Lindsey: It’s the whole point.
Steph: They’ve got a consultant who actually “fixes” problems like these in DC. She is not allowed to give names, she just gives situations, or they will give her a situation and she will respond with how she would “fix” it.
-J.: She’s like the Robert DeNiero character from Wag the Dog, except with less murder?
Lindsey: Yes. Well, no, there’s a lot of murder. But yes, definitely that type of character.
Steph: The idea is that this woman, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) needs to fix everything. So they need to keep coming up with problems for her to fix. But as the series goes on, the problems get more and more and MORE outlandish, because they have to outdo themselves every season. It’s gotten to the point where these ridiculous things have happened, and it’s just ridiculous. It’s ridiculous.
Riding In On the Shark
-J.: Is it ridiculousness that drives a prurient “what happens next?” Is it titillation that keeps people watching?
Lindsey: It’s the reason I keep watching it. I watch every week, and I know how bad it is, and I know how much it is lowering my IQ, but I can’t stop watching. I can’t even explain… Scandal has melded into one giant piece of… It’s like one of those pulp novels, those dime novels. Boobs and sex and drugs and SCANDAL.
-J.: When did it meld into a giant piece of…? Was there a moment when it went off the rails?
Lindsey: Season one, episode two?
Lindsey: I don’t know, let me go through my DVR… I mean, in season four she gets kidnapped by someone who was hired by the vice president (who is sleeping with the first lady — and also sleeping with Ellen DeGeneres’ wife). And then Guillermo Diaz tortures Ellen DeGeneres’ wife—
Lindsey: Yes, Huck tortures — I don’t even know the character’s name — Portia de Rossi — I literally don’t know her character’s name.
-J.: You’re saying it jumped the shark then, or…?
Lindsey: Oh, no, it’s terrible. It’s always been terrible. (to Steph) When did you stop watching?
Steph: After season one. I’ve only seen the first season.
Lindsey: I think it rode in on the shark. There is no way this show didn’t start already over the shark.
Steph: It opens in season one with Paris Geller having sex with the guy from Ghost, and getting murdered for it.
Lindsey: The guy from Ghost, who is literally the heir to the MGM throne (Tony Goldwyn). The guy who plays Fitz.
Steph: I don’t know what anyone’s real name is, except for Kerry Washington. And Portia de Rossi, but I didn’t even know she was on Scandal until I saw the episode two weeks ago. That crazy episode which had Lena Dunham in that horrible wig, and she gets her throat slashed.
-J.: I have no idea what’s going on in this show.
Steph: Nope. I have no idea what’s going on in this show, either. At one point, Olivia Pope gets kidnapped and is then auctioned off to the rest of the world. As in, the rest of the world bids on whether or not they get Olivia Pope. Which would never happen!
Lindsey: Oh, no. Because she has all the secrets, and the White House wants to kill her, but then Fitz is like, “no, you can’t kill her because my wife says so,” because she knows he’s in love with her—
Steph: Oh, yeah, that marriage exists. That horrible marriage.
Lindsey: “And I don’t want to be the mistress to someone who’s just a joke, you need to actually be in love with her.”
Steph: It’s beyond ridiculous. I liked the first season of Scandal for what it was — absurd nonsense, and situations that have probably happened in real life, but ones I can’t actually picture ever happening in real life.
Steph: I agree that it rode in on the shark.
Amplified (and Redacted) Stories of Everyday Life
Lindsey: Yeah. I don’t know. I live in DC, and [the following story has been redacted because none of us have the money for legal bills].
Steph: But those situations happen in everyday life, so it’s not really surprising.
Lindsey: But, a [REDACTED]?
Steph: Yes, a [REDACTED]. You’re talking like that’s a surprising situation, and it’s really not.
Lindsey: Right, no, but you asked what DC is like, and that’s part of it.
Steph: DC’s just a more amplified version of everywhere else. Problems that arise on Scandal, at their core, are human problems. It’s just…
-J.: They’re taken to a ridiculous degree?
Steph: Yes. They’re taken to a stupid, stupid, stupid degree.
Lindsey: But the show does have bottle episodes, one-shots where they spotlight important issues.
Steph: Yeah, and bring them to light, kinda like what Law & Order would do sometimes — ripped from the headlines — but overall, it’s just crazy shit.
Lindsey: Also, just so you know, there have been 69 episodes of Scandal. 69.
Steph: Are you 12?
Steph: Are you a 12-year-old boy?
After Four Seasons of Scandal…
-J.: Where do you see the show going?
Lindsey: To hell. In a handbasket. But wrapped in a white hat, with a gladiator sandals—
Steph: And a glass of red wine.
Lindsey: And a glass of red wine.