When “Scandal” debuted last year, it quickly became one of my favorite television shows. This was mostly due to its protagonist Olivia Pope. But as we approach the third season’s midpoint, I am quickly falling out of love with Olivia. In fact I’ve started calling her Olivia Nope.

There aren’t enough well tailored overcoats and Prada Saffiano totes that can make me overlook the obvious –- Olivia isn’t a likeable protagonist. In fact she’s become borderline pathetic and generally unbearable.


Come on, ‘Liv.

For three seasons, “Scandal” fans have forgiven the fact Olivia Pope is sleeping with a married man. Why? Because he loves her and she loves him. This is usually an inadequate justification for breaking an oath and ruining a home, however the intensity of the love between Olivia and Fitz made their actions seem less amoral. However, with time things have emerged which are altering the way many viewers relate to Olivia.

It’s become apparent how odious Fitz is. There were always clues. His team had to rig a presidential election because at best he’s a second-rate politician and he’s incapable of behaving like he’s capable. He’s emotionally abusive toward his wife Mellie and manipulates Olivia. And despite all this, Olivia regularly becomes a lip-quivering mess in the presence of a man void of charisma and charm. If Fitz has any redemptive qualities, they‘re microscopic.

Why Olivia and Mellie choose to prop up a man they surpass in intelligence, vision and drive confounds me. Fitz’s inadequacy means I watch “Scandal” screaming “Why him Olivia? Why?”

Olivia on the other hand is intelligent and not in the mechanical way women on television are often portrayed. She’s creative and her mind is nimble. If we overlook the constant overstepping of moral and ethical boundaries, we could say Olivia is excellent at her job. Sure she acts like a despot, but a despot with amazing hair (no weapon formed against Olivia’s hair has ever prospered). There is no democracy in Olivia’s world. Voices of dissent are pushed aside. Her only check and balance is her employee-friend Huck who’s also an assassin. He doesn’t speak much.

None of Olivia’s strengths can outweigh a critical flaw — she lies incessantly. She’s lied to all of her employees (who also happen to be her friends). She lies to the men she dates. She tells her clients to lie. She’s lied to the American public. I’m not sure what’s more impressive, Olivia’s elaborate lies or her ability to remember them.

Olivia’s lies mean despite her job as a fixer, everything around her is in a perpetual state of disarray. If Olivia spent as much time examining herself as she did delivering aggressive monologues at an absurd pace, perhaps she’d realize this.

In the first and second season I’d attribute Olivia’s colossal errors down to the failure of good intentions. I concluded Olivia meant well but her execution was sloppy. Now I’m not sure she does mean well. I’m starting to believe she simply does whatever she wants.

Olivia always had a high bar set for her. Her sociopath father set it at an outrageous level and so has the viewing public. Being one of the few fictional black women on television who’s multi-dimensional and powerful, has meant many women have projected their personal desires upon her. We want Olivia to have a happy ending, because she is the TV sum of our collective hopes and dreams. Instead Olivia insists on engaging in behaviour which is nothing more than glorified self-flagellation. It’s frustrating to watch.

From time to time Olivia gives uplifting “get yourself together” speeches to her clients. These expositional speeches tend to be a projection of what she wishes she could do for herself and give us a glimpse of the disconnect between her beliefs and conduct. I’d love for Olivia to take her own advice. To rid herself of her unquenchable need to destroy things around her and destroy herself. If she doesn’t do this I fear she will go down in TV history as the patron saint of mistresses without a plan, who wore great clothes but never got their act together.

Since Olivia Pope is the axis on which “Scandal” spins, our star cannot continue in her current incarnation. If she continues to be so pathetic it will pollute and infect everything about the show. We the viewers will become less forgiving of the implausible storylines. With each lip quiver and insipid decision, the expiry date on the creative license us the viewers have given “Scandal” is being brought forward.

So Olivia, please hurry up and fix it. We the fans need this handled.


This post originally appeared on XOJane. Republished with permission. Click here for more
Christiana Mbakwe on XOJane!

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  • BBLoves

    So because we like Scandal, we encourage black women to be mistresses, side pieces, whores, etc? So – what about women of other races? Are they never mistresses, side pieces, whores? I’m confused. Is she in an uproar about the ABC show Mistresses? Or is it just Scandal because it’s lead by a black woman? Was she in an uproar about Sex and the City (my fav show)? Because to be honest – all 4 of those women acted as mistresses, side pieces, whores, etc…..are women of other races the only women who can show their weaknesses, vulnerability, mistakes, errors – and black women are supposed to be “flawless?” Enough!
    a few seconds ago · Like

    • I’ve thought that too. No one had anything to say about Meredith Gray or Addison Montgomery (both cheaters in Shondaland), but as soon as one of ours does it, we have no sympathy for her plight?

    • Angelique212

      How about the fact the the Chief of the hospital, black doctor, cheated on his wife with Meredith’s mom, white doctor for years. No one was crying for Loretta Divine’s character…

  • blair

    I don’t really know what everyone is saying but if u think having an affair with a married man is right, then u have another thing coming. No matter what race, wrong is wrong.

  • Tt

    I’m not a fan of the show I thought it was going to be riveting and full of crazy cases but…its a chick that’s caught up in a marriage, that’s lost and confused. There are other shows like that…boring.

  • bubble

    ‘His team had to rig a presidential election because at best he’s a second-rate politician’
    Anyone who can blame the illegal actions of a group of people on the person who go SHOT because of them is just as odious as the characters she is criticising. If it took you till season 3 to notice Olivia lies you clearly weren’t paying attention and if you can honestly believe Mellie is intelligent when every decision she makes blows up in her face, I question your intelligence. Scandal IS degenerating, but not because of the factors you complain about. It’s degenerating because the plots are increasingly fantastical and senseless, The writers are clinging to an unrealistic Madonna/whore paradigm, and the main love interest Fitz is increasingly demonised to create room for a new love interest in Jake, a man character or wit, with a history of extreme professional violence, who everyone on the show trusts for no apparent reason. Also, Cyrus seems to have stopped talking and Harrison is massively underused.
    Almost every character’s interactions with Jake have required them to become stupid, thus accelerating the degeneration of the show, but really, it’s been in trouble quality wise since season 2.
    Part of Scandal’s problem is that amongst the writers and the audience the desire to subscribe to the patriarchal trope of blaming the mistress and supporting a shameless woman desperately clinging to a marriage that is long dead has tainted the show. People aren’t ready for the truth about marriage OR infidelity, so the show has abandoned the perspective of season 1 and fallen into tried worn old lies, the biggest being that infidelity is extraordinary in a country where 70% of married men and 50-60% of married women cheat, and divorce is rife.
    The president of Russia is getting divorced. the refusal to let this marriage end is ridiculous and outdated, Mellie has gone from cold but tough to pathetic, Olivia from savvy to unbalanced and Fitz has about 3 completely separate personalities. At this stage, I’m not sure it can even be fixed.

  • Dee

    I think that if you do not like Scandal, then YOU are the problem. I have not had cable in 2 years and I watch Netflix regularly but have not found one show besides Downton Abbey even close to interesting and exciting. I live in DC, so this hits close to home. It has excitement, intrigue and a sexy a– relationship. I do not condone adultery, but the chemistry in this show is off the freaking hook! This show is great for a couple to watch. Enough sex and action for the men and enough romance and excitement for women. Watch it again before you right any more of this blasphemy! Lol.