0071 – Why Every Relationship in ‘Scandal’ is Terrible


Today we’re digging into the relationships of the TV Show “Scandal”…because there’s no new episode tonight and you know you’re all feenin for some discussion on the topic…

Teaser Bullets

by the end of this episode you’ll learn:

  • What are the important relationships of Scandal, and why are they ridiculous
  • What is the most interesting relationship on Scandal
  • Scandal and Emotional Abuse

Describe the problem

You couldn’t be more addicted than if you were spoon boiling episode torrents into your arms at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Scandal has an entire generation of women dreaming about a tryst with their president of choice, and a whole nation of mistresses thinking Olivia Pope is the hero DC deserves, and the one it needs right now. On the surface Shonda Rhymes has created another hit, but are the relationships on the show anything that you should pine over? Is this a dream come true, or a nightmare on Pennsylvania Ave. We’ll let you know, right after the break.

Segment #1

  • What are the important relationships of Scandal, and why are they ridiculous

  • What is the most interesting relationship on Scandal
    • Clique Clack | Fitz and Olivia is the least interesting relationship on Scandal
      • David and Abby: I have been a big fan of both Josh Malina and Darby Stanchfield since Sportsnight and Jericho respectively, and I absolutely love their characters’ pairing. David’s storyline in particular was excellent last season; his spiral and eventual betrayal of Pope & Associates was a roller coaster of an arc, and their relationship was a central to the “fun.” Considering the amount of (generally misplaced) distrust between the two, I began to wonder if what they had could ever be saved. Fortunately, Abby’s “pervy sexting” saved the day.
      • Huck and Quinn: Go back and watch Scandal’s pilot episode, especially the teaser. Did anyone – including showrunner Shonda Rhimes – expect Harrison’s “Gladiators in Suits” sales pitch to Quinn would lead her down this path? Huck dressing Quinn down was this episode’s featured monologue (example: last week’s drunken Millie). While the protégée obviously cares for the teacher, Huck is right: her caring is so infused with her falling into the same addiction. Quinn is not – and probably never has been in the context of the show – a “white hat,” but she is considerably less innocent today.
      • Fitz and Mellie: The next two are obviously deeply entwined with Olivia/Fitz, but are both considerably more interesting. The President and the First Lady areawesome together; the aforementioned booziness last week serves again as a case in point. Their moment together in this episode, as Mellie went from a beautiful evolution of shock, hope, suspicion, realization and anger was easily the best piece of acting all night.

Segment #2

    • Scandal and Emotional Abuse
      • Jezebel | The Scandal Love Affair Is More Like Emotional Abuse
        • Dishonesty & Disrespect – One partner lies to or keeps information from the other. One partner steals from the other. There’s no stealing going on here unless you count Liv’s panty-drawls every episode, but lying is definitely on the table. Olivia lies to Fitz regularly, from her role in fixing his election to teaming up with his wife behind his back, to manipulating their relationship and her access for the benefit of her non-White House clients. Fitz lies to Liv whenever it suits him in the interest of foreign policy, when he’s having her stalked, and when it comes to his wife.
        • Dependence – One partner feels that he/she “can’t live without” the other. He/she may threaten to do something drastic if the relationship ends. The moment when I could no longer deny that Fitz and Olivia were in an unhealthy relationship was, oddly enough, the same moment when so many people on Twitter seemed to be falling in love. I’m talking about the scene in S2E8 when, thanks to a flashback, we see “secret” lovers shouting loudly in the White House Rose Garden.
        • Physical abuse – One partner uses force to get his/her way (for example, hitting, slapping, grabbing, shoving). While we never see Olivia Pope’s face splashed across TMZ like Rihanna’s, this relationship is very hands-on. Even allowing for some latitude for those of you who “like it rough,” I submit that what we’re seeing is aggressive, not sexy. Hit up OnDemand and see how many times Fitz has Olivia gripped up by the shoulders. He’s slammed her into a tree. Summoned her to the woods where he brandished a hunting rifle and held onto her tightly while she tried to pull away, crying.
        • Examples


  • Notice how Olivia is unable to have an actual relationship with anyone else who is, you know, available (Remember Edison? He was Cosby Show-corny, but still). And don’t say Captain Jake Ballard! He’s barely trust-worthy; we still don’t know how he escaped “the hole” or Rowan Pope, better known as Papa Pope.
  • Let’s take a minute to review the number of times Mellie has called Liv a “whore” to her face and she’s accepted it (at least twice in the emergency bunker), or to Fitz and he’s accepted it (at least once, most recently after the bomb scare).
  • Papa Pope slut-shamed Olivia during his “look at me when I’m talking to you!” speech, saying “You raised your skirt, and opened your knees and gave it away to a man with too much power.” He says this as he’s putting her on a private plane to no man’s land because if she stays in Washington, the world will eat her, thanks to her poor sexual judgement regarding Fitz.


Final Thoughts:

  • Elijah’s Thoughts
  • Sarah’s Thoughts

In Closing

If you have a question, comment, or funny story about [INSERT SHOW TOPIC] you can send us an email at elijah@relationspodcast.com. You can also follow us on Twitter at “Haverelations”, find us on facebook at facebook.com/haverelations. I’m @elijahryoung on Twitter, my amazing co-host (and author of “How to be Dumped: The definitive Breakup Guide” is @sarahJStorer on Twitter and this show’s notes and soon, it’s transcription, will be at our home base, relationspodcast.com/[ShowNumber], and don’t forget to subscribe to the Get the Gal, or Get the Guy mini course in the sidebar!


Now go forth and continue to relate better to one another. We’ll talk soon.

Pope and Fitz

Pope and Jake Ballard

Pope and Edison (the only “healthy” relationship on the show?)

Cyrus and James

Fitz and Mellie

David and Abby

Huck and Becky






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