If you know me, you know I love me some Scandal. It’s one of the only shows I faithfully watch every week without getting bored. Olivia Pope is a complex black woman in a city whose political landscape affects not only the nation, but the entire world. Talk about a poppin’ TV show!
A lot of my fellow bloggers have discussions on the implications of shows like Scandal and Being Mary Jane. We’re grateful for TV shows with leading ladies who look and act like us but do they have to be so damaged and drama-filled?
I’d like to take a different approach to the topic. I do believe that these women can serve as role models but only in limited views; they’re not perfect and neither are we. So here are my do’s and don’ts to take from Olivia Pope, the Queen of Scandal herself, who is both beautiful and flawed.
Do: Tell the truth without reservation.
Don’t: Let anyone shape your truth.
Olivia Pope is never afraid to “tell it like it really is” when someone needs a reality check. Sometimes, as black women, we don’t want to speak up, either because we’re too afraid to fulfill that stereotype of the angry black woman or because we don’t want to trouble the waters. We should always speak the truth in a way that is loving towards our recipient, but we should never hold back the truth from those who need to hear it.
On the flip side, we must also refuse to let anyone shape our truth without our permission. As hard as she resists, Olivia’s love for Fitz allows him to shape her life and daily decision-making. She’s only recently vocalized that “Vermont” is not a realistic goal but chooses to continue behind the curtain that is Fitz’s political career. No one should have that much control over your life without you being able to trust that they have your best interest at heart.
Do: Fight for what you believe in.
Don’t: Expect others to fight the same battles or the same war.
Olivia will always strive to wear the white hat: to do what it is good in the face of evil, even if it happens Robin Hood style (robbing the privileged to help the wronged and forgotten). Even when it is unpopular, Olivia will do her best to protect her loved ones, her Gladiators who have stood by her through the very thick and very thin.
Olivia is sadly disappointed when others make choices different (and more sinister) than her conscious would allow her to choose. She’s shocked that the people around her are monsters, fighting battles on the other side of the war line. Just because we have good intentions or even high moral values doesn’t mean others will hold the same. But no matter what, that should not change how we choose to do good in this world or who is the recipient of that good.
Do: Follow your dreams.
Don’t: Forget to take your head when you follow your heart.
Olivia’s dreams of family life seem to contradict her political and career-driven dreams. But if we look a bit more closely, we see that’s not necessarily the case. Olivia could achieve both, if only she choose a platonic relationship with Fitz and allow other suitors to pursue her. She follows her heart in her love for Fitz but doesn’t seem to make rational decisions concerning him in her life.
It’s ok to dream, seek love and fulfillment in life. But you shouldn’t have to sacrifice personal happiness and emotional well-being in order to do so. Follow your dreams to the moon and back – just make sure you check in with wisdom before you bon voyage.
See you Thursday, Gladiators!
Let me know!
1. Why do you find Olivia Pope relatable?
2. If you were Ms. Pope, what is one major choice you would have made differently?
3. How can watching Scandal help you to be make healthier choices in your own life?