Because “Scandal” is less dramatic than real life…
HAPPY SCANDAL DAY!
Sometimes you get tired of living in Trump’s America and writing about it and need a break. So instead of discussing the giant garbage fire that our reality has become, let’s explore the political implications and interpersonal disputes of the Grant Administration.
Ohmygod, y’all, last week’s episode! Looking at the tricky re-integration of a past president into “normal” life along with all the baggage of Fitz’s time in the White House and a burgeoning partnership with Marcus (not really known for taking whatever people throw at him) lead to some real talk.
Fitzgerald Grant, Ex-President, Man of the people?
It’s remarkable that Fitz is able to get away with placing his presidential library in Vermont. He has like zero ties to Vermont. However, technically, the selection of the location is left to the President. It’s just… can you imagine a sitting president near the end of their term announcing that their presidential library is going to be somewhere without significance to their rise to power?
Presidential Libraries that fall under the administration of the National Archives are actually a fairly modern invention. There are 14 libraries and every president since Hoover has erected one (or had one erected in their honor). With Fitz being from Santa Barbara and a former governor of California, somewhere in CA would be the assumed location for his library. However, with both Reagan and Nixon libraries in the state, California is kind of overdone.
He picked Vermont because of the dream he shared with Olivia. What’s frustrating is that it was always a fiction, it’s honestly a little pathetic how Fitz holds to it as though it were ever a possibility — and this is coming from a hardcore Olitz fan. Olivia was never going to move to Vermont and make jam. She wishes for it the way you wish for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, because it would be really nice, but doesn’t actually exist.
I love the image of a past president sitting in bed watching the pundits speculate about him. It seems masochistic and unrealistic, but I love it. Can you imagine the click-bait articles about Olivia and Fitz’s last moment together before he boarded the helicopter? “Ex-POTUS Girlfriend, Current POTUS right-hand Olivia Pope has her cake and eats it too” Or the Buzzfeed about all of the President’s girlfriends? “Pick a dessert and we’ll tell you which #FitzFling you are!” Or how about all of the articles that I’m sure would surface about how lonely and out of touch Fitz is in Vermont. Ah the media, nothing better to cover than drama and trivia even in an alternate universe.
Fitz is definition bad ally in this episode and he deserved to be punched in the face. Can’t you just imagine him saying some shit like “I’m not racist, my mistress is black.” The scene with the donor where it’s just Fitz, Marcus, and this wealthy southern GOP guy… is how racism perpetuates. If you sit in a room with someone who assumes that the POC who went to Cuba is Cuban (why else would he have gone…) and then subsequently ask the highly-qualified Director of your presidential library planning whatever to act as “the help” and grab you and your clearly racist buddy a bottle of whiskey from the cellar… you done fucked up. It is subtle and insidious but it’s there and good people always know. The look in Fitz eyes says “yikes that was kinda racist but watcha gonna do” What you can do is use your place of privilege to stand up and call people out. JFC.
Also you don’t tell a grown ass man to behave and don’t pretend like you don’t know the history of calling a black man angry or bitter. Be better, Fitzgerald Grant. The fact that he’s like “you’ve been counting black people?” when Marcus points out that he’s only seen one black person in Vermont is proof to me that Olivia… and now Marcus, I guess, are his only black friends. Be. Better.
IN ADDITION… you can’t hang your hat on the Brandon Bill as though police brutality exists in a vacuum and turn your back on the guy freezing to death to bring attention to the fact that Confederate statues are disgusting and wrong and honestly Anti-American. It takes him way too long to meet Steve. Calling it a divisive issue is bullshit. He doesn’t need public opinion on his side, or to give a fuck about what anyone will think or say. He has one responsibility at this point: peaceful transition of power. As long as he doesn’t directly impede the sitting president’s ability to do her job, he can do whatever the fuck he wants. coughObamacough.
“You are an insane narcissist. The worst kind of entitled because you don’t even realize you are entitled.”
Honestly, I have to agree with Marcus there.
Marcus Walker, Ex-Activist, Ex-Gladiator, Ex-Press Sec
I love the look on Marcus’s face when he realizes the privilege he has over black Cubans. “Lo siento, guapito. You’re a gringo,” cuts as deep as “Straight Black Men are the White People of Black People.” (If you missed this… how?)
If Fitz’s un-checked Fitz-y-ness is the A plot. The B-plotline of this episode feels like it’s Marcus’s re-entry after spending the last year in the White House, and his discomfort with the privilege that represents. He’s used to being the guy in the street, advocating and agitating. But he traded that for a white hat and nice suite, then traded that again for the most powerful podium in the world, and where has that left him?
They parallel the issue of confederate statues to see this play out. Marcus yearns to be the kid sleeping beneath the statue in a lawn chair. Oh the layers and callbacks. Honestly, let’s pull every confederate statue down. 100% agree with Marcus, it’s not all that complicated.
What I think is complicated, and what America has yet to reckon with, is that this impassioned denouncement of Raymond Cyst, fictional Revolutionary war hero, is indistinguishable from a description of our third president. As Steve says, “this this man raped women he held captive and enslaved his own children.” Now, there are so many Sally Hemings/Thomas Jefferson references in Scandal that I don’t think this one is slipped in by accident. What we have yet to reckon with and are most uncomfortable with are the heinous acts committed by the great thinkers and “noble” men who founded our country. Should we take down every statue of Thomas Jefferson? Of George Washington? And how does our continued worshipping of the perpetrators of some of the most immoral acts one human can make against another impact our modern worship of powerful and/or celebrated men? What stories will history tell about the women endangered and assaulted by the modern men who hold high office? Are we okay with that lasting legacy?
Discomfort with privilege aside, Marcus is the male feminist we’ve all been waiting for… fave lines:
Fitz: I spent 8 years in the most powerful office in the world, running the most powerful nation in the world, and you’re basically telling me I’ve been reduced to a man who loved a woman.
Marcus: Welcome to the plight of almost every successful woman in the history of mankind.
“A black woman held you up and now you’re screaming to everyone about how well you fly”
…And all told, watching these two clash is almost as good as watching Olivia and Fitz throw things around a room then breathe heavily on one another. This fight is a masterclass.
Olivia Pope, Chief of Staff, Command, HBIC
And of course, it all comes down to Olivia. Fitz asks “is Olivia Pope everyone’s world or just mine?” And you know, you get the sense that Marcus isn’t 100% sure what the answer is.
What does it say about America that I often wish that something like B613 existed? I know, I know, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Something something vigilantism bad. However, wouldn’t it be nice to know that there’s some shadow intelligence agency helmed by someone who’s been at this longer than the monkeys currently in power? 1. Papa Pope is my favorite character and everytime he calls Fitz “boy” it gives me life. 2. My biggest concern about Olivia as Command is that in the last two episodes she’s been kind of a punk about it. B613 can’t be run like OPA, it’s not about anything as simple as blackmail and appealing to the better angels of people in positions of power. Sometimes saving the republic means getting your hands dirty… and the only time Olivia’s truly willing to get messy seems to be when saving or vindicating herself. That’s dangerous and that’s scary.
Heaven help us all.