I watched the premiere of Shonda Rhimes latest drama "Scandal" last week and for the most part, I enjoyed it. I am happy that she has been able to expand her portfolio of shows and am a fan of any scripted television show with good writing that weakens my reality show addiction.
It was also great to see Kerry Washington portraying a strong female lead as Olivia Pope. It felt like she "owned" every scene that she was in. Way to go!
That being said, the three things I did have a little bit of an issue with were:
(1) The pacing of the dialogue. Please slow down a little. I've worked in offices under pressure and I can tell you we weren't speaking that fast, ever.
(2) The big reveal of the night. [Spoiler Alert!] Olivia's relationship with the President. I was guessing that might be their backstory and was hoping that it wasn't. But alas. Meh. Anyway...
(3) The lack of other Black women in the show. As the hour progressed, I wondered... Does Shonda have an agreement with ABC that there can only be one Black woman on each of her shows at a time? Seriously.
No other Black women in a show based in Washington D.C., the original Chocolate City? In a show created, written, and produced by a Black woman? In a show where the lead character owns her own firm? You would think that there would be another Black woman somewhere in the scenery.
I hope that as the show unfolds and Olivia's character is developed, other Black females emerge in supporting roles as a best friend, Sister, Auntie, Momma, play cousin, stylist, sorority sister, deaconess, book club members? somebody?! Bueller? anyone? I would love if her life outside the office included scenes that are not commonly shown on network television involving interaction with other Black folks. It's time. (Back to point #2: A strong Black male love interest would be great, but I don't want to push it.)
I am excited for Shonda and Kerry but I would love to see the wealth spread around to other Black actresses in Hollywood. With the history that Shonda has built with ABC, if she can't create a cast with a significant Black female presence, then who can? Or will? A Black female usually (yes, there are exceptions) has other Black females around her. Let's show that too.
As a side note: hopefully, there are opportunities being afforded to minorities (specifically qualified Black females) behind the camera as a result of Shonda's position ("each one, teach one?")
I'll tune in again because a show with a strong, intelligent Black woman trumps the majority of other portrayals that are currently on air.