Why SCANDAL is a hit TV Show

ImageWith 6.2 million weekly viewers, it’s no surprise that ABC’s Thursday night drama “Scandal” has everyone buzzing. I’m heavily invested in this show. You can log on to Facebook on any given day and find thousands of users discussing the ins and outs of Olivia Pope & Associates.  Since it’s
April 5, 2012 debut, Creator- Head Writer and Executive Producer Shonda Rhimes has taken viewers on a joyous thrill ride into the darker side of DC politics.

What’s the secret to Scandal’s Success?

Aside from a stellar cast, the writing team on this show is phenomenal.  ShondaLand’s writers are some of the brightest in the business:

Heather Mitchell  (Medium & Grey’s Anatomy)
Matt Byrne  (Grey’s Anatomy)
Richard E. Robbins  (Rubicon & TV News Documentaries)
Mark Wilding  (Grey’s Anatomy & Charmed)
Jenna Bans  (co-creator & writer Grey’s Anatomy)
Mark Fish  (Damages & The OC)
Raamla Mohamed  (Grey’s Anatomy)
Chris Van Dusen  (Grey’s Anatomy & Private Practice)
Peter Noah  (The West Wing)

I always notice when people are discussing Scandal they always credit Shonda.  The truth is Shonda has only written three of the episodes for Scandal. Being the head writer I’m certain she gets the last word but let’s face it, Shonda is a busy lady.  Her credited episodes were:

“Sweet Baby” – April 5, 2012  (Pilot Episode #1)
Young lawyer Quinn Perkins is in awe when she is invited to join Olivia Pope and Associates, a crisis management firm designed to protect and defend the public images of the nation’s elite. Quinn works alongside her idol Olivia Pope, a woman who is willing to help her clients no matter what the cost. But when decorated war veteran Sullivan St. James is accused of murder and a White House intern, Amanda Tanner, accuses President Fitzgerald Grant of having an affair, Quinn discovers that nothing is as it seems.

“Grant For the People” -May 17, 2012  (Season 1 – Episode #7)
The team rushes to help Quinn when she finds herself in a compromising position. A reluctant Cyrus must turn to Olivia when the Vice President’s Chief of Staff Billy Chambers makes a public announcement that shakes the Grant Administration, The White House, and Olivia to the core.

“Happy Birthday, Mr. President” – December 6, 2012    (Season 2 -Episode #15)
President Grant is rushed to the hospital following the attempt on his life. A series of flashbacks reveals more about Olivia’s time in the White House and her relationship with the president. Despite Olivia’s best efforts to retain the office of president for President Grant, Vice President Langston is inaugurated as president to serve until President Grant recovers.

The woman behind ShondaLand

At 43, (born January 13, 1970) Shonda Rhimes is a dynamic force in Hollywood these days. She, along with creative partner Betsy Beers,  has given ABC three hit shows, Grey’s Anatomy which has run consistently to a large audience since March 2005.  Private Practice which aired September 2007 until January 22, 2013, and now Scandal, which hopefully will run as long as Grey’s Anatomy has.


While Shonda is most famous for Grey’s Anatomy, she was also the writer for several other hits, including the 1999 movie ” Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” which put Halle Berry’s career on the map. In 2001 she wrote the movie for Britney Spears film debut “Crossroads” for which she was nominated for a Razzy award. She also wrote the Princess Diaries 2-Royal Engagement in 2004.


I’m certainly convinced that anything she touches will turn to gold.

Shonda has a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth (1991) and a master of fine arts (MFA) from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television.  She was born in Chicago, Illinois and is the youngest of 5 children born to a university administrator and a college professor. She has two adopted daughters  Harper Rhimes and Emerson Rhimes.

On  December 11, 2012 there was an article published by the IndieWire where someone asked her the question:  “Why all the gay and lesbian story lines?”  of which she answered:

Because I believe everyone should get to see themselves reflected on TV. EVERYONE. And because I love all my gay and lesbian friends. AND because I think same-sex marriage is the civil rights fight of our era and back when being a person of color was the civil rights fight, people like Norman Lear put black people on TV and helped change some minds. So you know, it’s gotta be paid forward. As long as we are willing to sit by while one person is not free, none of us are free.

And FINALLY: because as long as someone feels like it is okay to ask the question “why all the gay people on your shows”, then there is still a HUGE problem that needs to be solved. It’s like asking “Why all the black people on your shows”. (Which is, in fact, why there are also a lot of people of color on my shows . Cause people keep asking. Like it’s unusual. Which means we have a LONG way to go). Okay, done preaching.

Shonda is changing television as we know it. Her answer to the question above says it all. I shake my head when I think she has not won an Emmy Award.  Her wins to date have been:

PGA award by Writer’s Guild of America for TV Producer of the year 2007 – Grey’s Anatomy
Lucy Award (Women in Film) for excellence and innovation in her creative works that have enhanced the perception of women through the medium of television – in 2007

NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Dramas Series, Grey’s Anatomy – 2007

NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing – Grey’s Anatomy – 2008

NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing – Private Practice – 2008

(2) NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Writing – Grey’s Anatomy – 2009

Nominated for three Emmys in 2006 and 2007 but has not won one yet. (Shocking)

Shonda Rhimes & ShondaLand writers/actors and staff – I salute you today. Keep a place in your offices for that Emmy because I personally believe it’s coming.


Thursday has become my favorite TV night of the week anticipating where this show will go next.
Kerry Washington rocks as Olivia Pope and the on-screen chemistry between her and Tony Goldwyn (remember him in Ghost?)  is so tantalizing.   The entire cast, Columbus Short (Harrison Wright), Darby Stanchfield (Abby Whelan), Katie Lowes (Quinn Perkins/Lindsey Dwyer), Jeff Perry (Cyrus Beene), Joshua Malina (David Rosen), Bellamy Young (Mellie Grant), Gregg Henry (Hollis Doyle), and Dan Bucatinsky (James) have all gelled together so well.

Whose your favorite Scandal character?  I have to admit mine is HUCK!  Guillermo Díaz has come a long way since the movie “Half-Baked” with Dave Chappelle.

Oh how I love this show.

So Long American Idol

idol-logoI diligently watched American Idol for the first eight seasons.  It was my guilty pleasure and the show was amazingly entertaining.  Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson were the best Judges.

Actually it was in season eight (2009) when the show began taking a turn for the worst.  Kara DioGuardi was added as a fourth judge, which I never understood.   She didn’t add anything at all to the show.   Paula Abdul left and was replaced by Ellen Degeneres (a Comedian, not a singer) who only stayed for one season and then Simon Cowell left to do the X-factor.

By Season 9  (2010) Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler joined the judging table and while I was skeptical, both of them did a pretty decent job judging and America stopped complaining that Paula and Simon were gone.  Jennifer and Steven only stayed for two seasons.










Randy Jackson (The Veteran), Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj & Keith Urban.

What’s wrong with the “Reality Show” culture in America?

What does it say about our culture when the only way to get television ratings is to manufacture feuds?  This is a singing competition, not an extension of Basketball Wives or The Real Housewives of Atlanta or  Beverly Hills.  Let me add, I don’t watch any of those shows.

I use to enjoy watching the American Idol auditions.  The good, the bad and the hilarious.  Remember “She Bangs” by William Hung in Season 3?   What about General Larry Platt’s song, “Pants on the Ground” in Season 9?  Those were really good times.  I recall watching the auditions and the work water cooler the next day was filled with stories about the hilarious auditions.  What happened American Idol?

I noted last night that in a two hour premiere we only got to actually see about 7 auditions.   The rest of the time was spent telling contestant sob stories and listening to a very annoying Nicki Minaj egg on Mariah Carey.   You do know that all of this is manufactured by the Network producers right? Unfortunately for FOX, this will backfire to the tune of ratings. I logged on the Idol Facebook page and read comment after comment of people’s disgust for last night’s premiere episode.


Let me preface this by saying that no one is more empathetic than I am when it comes to someone’s hardship.  No one is immune from the trials and tribulations of life. No one!  But my goodness, this is a singing competition not a charity event.  I’ve pulled away from a lot of the singing competitions because of this fact.  All of the shows do this, X-Factor, The Voice and America’s Got Talent.   By now everyone knows the story of Stacy Francis from the first season of the X-Factor.  Remember stuttering soldier, Timothy Poe, from America’s Got Talent?  My point is that it should be about the talent – and not the sad story.   I tune in to see the talent.

Sadly, my prediction is that this will be the final season of Idol.  The Voice has soared to the number one spot since its debut and with CeeLo and Christina taking hiatus to promote their own projects I’m not sure how long their ratings will last.   When I have a conversation with someone about Idol I always ask:  “Can you name the last 5 seasons winners?”  It seems people can’t remember past Carrie Underwood who won Season 4 in 2005.   Just in case you can’t remember, let me list them here for you.

  • Kelly Clarkson, 2002
  • Ruben Studdard 2003     (Clay Aiken soared and Ruben was cut from his label)
  • Fantasia Barrino 2004        (Also produced success for LaToya London – Jennifer Hudson)
  • Carrie Underwood 2005  (Also produced success for Chris Daughtry)
  • Taylor Hicks 2006   (Also produced success for Katherine McPhee (Smash)  & Kellie Pickler
  • Jordin Sparks 2007
  • David Cook, 2008
  • Kris Allen, 2009     (Adam Lambert had small successes)
  • Lee DeWyze, 2010
  • Scotty McCreery, 2011
  • Phillip Phillips, 2012

Last night’s show taunted the success of past winners but in reality of all the winners – who has really gone on to break the bank besides Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood?  Before Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson was hailed as the most successful but Carrie Underwood is a mega-star now.  In just seven years she has won 116 Awards out of 174 nominations.  Of those there are 7 American Music Awards, 16 Billboard Music Awards and 5 Grammys.  The rest are all Country Music Awards.  Kelly Clarkson has a total of 75 awards and 135 nominations.   Kelly has only won two Grammys.


The only other successful person from the Idol stage has to be Jennifer Hudson who has a Grammy, an Oscar, a SAG and a Golden Globe.   She received 30 different Awards for her breakout role in Dreamgirls.  She’s also Weight Watchers most successful weight loss spokesperson.


Fantasia Barrino was doing well until controversy struck with her affair and subsequent child by a married man.  She’s trying to overcome and make a comeback but when America is done, they’re usually done!  She has two Billboard Awards, one Grammy and a Theatre World Award in 2006 from her time with the play, The Color Purple.  I’m rooting for her. I like Fantasia.


So will American Idol Season 12 produce another Carrie Underwood?  Don’t count on it.  I said I would tune in again tonight to see if they can redeem themselves but I already know I’ll be removing Idol from the DVR record list.   So what did you think?

The New Fall TV Season

There are certainly some new shows on television, as well as some returning favorites that I’m indulging in. Let’s talk comedy first. The New Normal by Glee Producer, Ali Adler tops my new comedy list. The casting is great and veteran actress Ellen Barkin makes the show. Her off-colored remarks add so much to this show. I read that 9 more episodes have been ordered. Yay!

NBC’s Revolution reportedly has already been picked up for another season. Thank goodness because it’s a great show. After NBC failed miserably with The Event starring Blair Underwood, they’ve certainly redeemed themselves with Revolution. The show follows a group of survivors 15 years after the power went out all over the globe.

ABC’s 666 Park Avenue might not make it. I love supernatural dramas and there’s enough intrigue on this show to keep it on. It was announced recently that Whoopi Goldberg will be joining the cast. The show opened to low ratings but if you’re a fan of the supernatural I say give it a chance.

ABC definitely has a hit with Last Resort, starring Andre Braugher. At first I thought it was a series for men. The premise: A renegade crew of a nuclear submarine led by Braugher go AWOL after defying an order to fire nuclear missiles. I’m loving this show.

I watched the pilot on CBS for Made in Jersey and while there was something a little appealing about the lead character, Martina Garretti played by actress Janet Montgomery, my prediction is this show will not make it. Can a small-town Jersey girl succeed in her high-powered law career in the big city? I can’t quite put my finger on why this show doesn’t work. It just doesn’t.

Another NBC show that I watched twice was Guys With Kids. This is the new comedy from comedian/talk show host Jimmy Fallon. It was just okay for me. I giggled a few times but I didn’t watch a third time.

I’m looking forward to Nashville which premieres on ABC October 10th. I think it will be a great show to watch with lots of juicy drama. I love Connie Britton. Her time last season on American Horror Story was great. For me this show is like Carrie Underwood vs. Faith Hill or Taylor Swift verses Reba McIntyre. At least that’s what the rumor mill is alluding to. I’m sure there’s no truth to the rumors but it has people excited nonetheless.

I’m sure there are many more good shows that I’m missing but I have my personal favorites such as Scandal, Revenge, Criminal Minds, American Horror Story, Grey’s Anatomy, Person of Interest, 2 Broke Girls, and Mike & Molly. There’s only so much time in one week.

What are some of your favorites?