I love Downton Abbey, The Newsroom, and Game of Thrones. They’re all shows deemed worthy of watching by my friends and family even if they don’t partake themselves. Not everyone is a fan of costume dramas, politics, or warring kingdoms, but the series are respected in their own right. If I care about public opinion, I’m on solid ground with these three.
Where I venture onto shakier terrain is mentioning that I follow Scandal, a show that follows the misadventures of a “fixer”, Olivia Pope, who happens to be having an affair with the President of the United States. It’s a soap oprea/thriller that English teachers are supposed to be above.
I happened on the show one night last spring and was hooked on the premise. My friends at school were already watching it, so I decided to give it a go. Thanks to Netflix I got caught up on all of the past episodes over the next few months while watching the new ones too. Talk about confusing.
What was also confusing was the absence of logic in the plots. Murders are frequently committed, prominent people kidnapped, Presidental elections rigged. There’s also a lot of sleeping around. Don’t these people ever govern? Don’t forensics labs ever pick up on the mismatch between DNA evidence? Doesn’t anyone ever go to jail?
Once I gave up on looking for ordinary consequences for extraordinary behavior, I enjoyed it far more. Things happen so quickly in each episode that it’s a bit of a thrill ride to watch. In fact, the show’s production company, Shondaland, includes a roller coaster in its logo. It also frequently features Joe Morton as Olivia’s father. I could watch this guy read the phone book. And every once in a while, we get to see nuanced character development as we did at the end of this week’s episode with Jake consoling a dying James.
While The West Wing and House of Cards are where I turn when I want a true political drama fix, the former being how I hope government is run and the latter how it probably is, Scandal is just fun fodder for discussion during lunch duty.
It just occurred to me that Scandal is the equivalent of the Percy Jackson series. I’ve long regarded these books as too action-laden with very little character development. Generally, they are harmless, but I’m happy when my kids move beyond them. But if Scandal is a guilty pleasure I’m allowed to indulge in as part of a more “rigorous” body of TV shows that I follow, shouldn’t my students be afforded the same latitude as part of a healthy reading diet? It seems maybe I have learned something about real life from Scandal: stop being such a snob.