Friday, December 7, 2012

Scandal Blog: The Olivia Pope Effect - Siding with the "Other Woman"

5:55 AM

I was hooked on Scandal by the first episode. I had it so bad I literally stalked my friends until they watched it (you guys can thank me later).  The writers set it up so well.  A black woman who had her stuff together, successful, beautiful, brilliant, a hard worker, an entrepreneur and someone that genuinely seemed to be "good" and who wanted to do good, to help those that had been wronged. It was only after we loved her and were personally involved in her success that they let us in on a little secret.

Olivia Pope is/was dating a very married man with children. She knew he was married with kids when it started. She saw his wife e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y.  And she kept on seeing him. Smiled in his wife's face daily.  She walked away when his wife let her know that there was no secret, she was fully aware of their relationship.

As a married woman, with a strong disdain for "loose women", I should hate her now. All of the awesome things about her should go right out of the window.  She's just another slut, right? But I don't. In fact, sometimes I cheer her on, "Way to go mistress!!!!" And then I catch myself cheering for the evil Mellie, a part of me shouts "Right On!" whenever she says "my husband" in Olivia's presence.  "My husband" aka "you are a non *bleeping* factor."

If you really look at it, Olivia and Fitz's relationship is very much like many real-life affairs:

  • They met at work - Not the club, not an internet dating site, not out trolling for booty. Work. Where men and women interact all day.  I met my husband at work.
  • He's got game - Yes lawd!  He tells her all the right things "I can't breathe without you", "I wish I met you first", "I only love you", "I'm willing to give it all up....". But he doesn't. How is this different than every other line dropped by a married man? "My wife doesn't understand me like you do", "I only stay for the kids".  
  • Olivia isn't after his money - There stereotype paints women who see married guys as gold diggers. They're opportunists.  Olivia has a job, she makes money - she hasn't asked Fitz for anything.
  • Olivia isn't proud - Unlike the hoochies that are the stereotype and that love to call into urban radio, Liv isn't shouting from the rooftops that she's banging a married guy.  She has shame.

The comment was made yesterday that it's okay that we like Olivia because she's a fictional character. And while that may be true that's not a real reason.  We like Olivia because we "knew" her first.  We see the other sides of her, we want her to be happy, we want her to be successful.  Our morals are never black and white, it's always a shade of grey.  There are very few things that we can say we are truly absolute about. In real life we don't completely shut people out because they do something that we don't agree with.  I may not condone the behavior, but I can accept you anyway.

Oh, and the biggest reason why we can like Olivia Pope - she's not sleeping with our husbands. 

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  1. I'd have to disagree on it being fictional not being "a good enough reason". There's no emotional investment; vs. watching a friend, relative, or yourself suffer through infidelity. We like Huck. He's a killer. On Girlfriends, I liked Toni the most and she was a complete bitch. I'd never befriend her in real life.

    I don't think real world feelings & morals factor in. Plus, as I said yesterday, to tell yourself that your values are so staunch and unyielding that you never have conflicting feelings/thought/actions against them is asinine.

  2. Look at it differently. Take child molestors , I don't think you'd ever sympathize with a character who violated children, fake or not. And if you had a really good friend that was seeing a married guy, you probably would voice your opinion but not cut her off completely.

    As people we're more than just one aspect. I'm okay with Huck killing folks, spies do exist for a reason. If you know someone in the military who has gone to war, you don't write them off because of it, even if you feel like all war is bad.

    It's all grey. Someone being a character doesn't allow you to escape your morals, but it may expose the fact that your views aren't as staunch as a person may have thought they were.

    And keep in mind, Olivia is our "friend". If the story was told from Mellie's perspective we'd likely feel completely different.

  3. I think you are FAR more forgiving of folks than I am. I'll start there. I have ended a relationship over a similar situation.

    But, I don't think we're opposed. That's my main point; we aren't so strict in our views that everything is black and white. You don't avoid ALL television, music, reading material and PEOPLE that conflict with your morals. That's absurd.

    I just disagree that saying its. Not. Real. is invalid. It's very valid. In real life I would NOT cheer you on it listen to the exploits of you and your affair partner.

    If the story was from Millie's perspective and she was still as conniving as she is...I'd feel the same way about her. I'm never "leave her and be with Olivia". I'm always "Liv effed up by being the side piece"'.

  4. I don't think we disagree either, just view it differently.

    And I didn't say that "not real life" wasn't valid, just not the whole picture


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