Response Post: That’s Not Why Men Don’t Like Scandal

why men don't like scandal

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, I was splitting my attention between the almost complete breakdown of Atlanta Falcons’ fans and Twitter when an interesting article titled, “Such a Big Ego: Why Some Black Men Have a Problem with ‘Scandal” by Kirsten West Savali, got posted on my timeline from Clutch Magazine. When I opened the link, I did something I don’t usually do.

I scrolled directly to the comments to see how much furor it caused. At the time I read the article, it had 227 comments.

I’m an avid watcher of Scandal. Every Thursday night at 10pm, I make sure I’m locked in to my television and logged into Twitter so I can share my thoughts and reactions with all the other people watching. This makes me part of the 23.79 percent of men in Ms. Savali’s unscientific Twitter poll that enjoy the show.

I read her article with a bit of a smirk and two things immediately came to mind: 1) I’ve never head a man cite the reason she listed for why they don’t like the show and 2) This seems like awfully strong commentary for a show…seems like there’s something else here.”

Ms. Savali posits that the majority of men who don’t like Scandal dislike it because:

“For once, a black woman is depicted on screen who is one self-reliant, skilled, bad-ass business-woman capable of making her own decisions based on choices independent of black male control — and she chose a white man”

Of all the things Ms. Savali used to qualify why men don’t like Scandal, I found the previous quote to be the most problematic. I can’t argue with what she sees and her experiences, I’m simply saying I don’t think the fact the relationship is interracial is the main problem. And honestly, there’s plenty of legitimate reasons to dislike the show.

For example, the people on Scandal talk entirely too fast and have a penchant for self-serving and pointless soliloquys at the strangest times; I wouldn’t consider the characters a well -rounded or three-dimensional bunch; I’m still not entirely sure of the show’s overall purpose. It seems like Shonda just finds new ways to create problems every week for the team to solve, but it’s all done in a vacuum.

Most of the men who don’t watch the show may point to any one of those aforementioned reasons. Olivia giving herself to a white man is something I’ve hardly seen come up. (This isn’t to discount Ms. Savali’s point. Then again, she seemed to be mostly guessing. I’m assuming I’m allowed the same courtesy in this response).

Whenever I’ve seen men take up arms against the show, it’s usually against women who watch the show. And that conversation is usually centered around women seemingly accepting the love affair of Olivia and Fitz, despite the fact that Fitz is married. Most assuredly, we must remember that Scandal is a TV show and not exactly based in reality. That doesn’t stop people from championing Olivia Pope as the new face of 21st Century women (I may or may not have made that up), but it won’t prohibit me from making my next point.

One of the most frequently discussed reasons I’ve seen for the argument against Scandal (and the women who watch it) is the apparent hypocrisy on display. Women, by and large, seem to have NO problems with Olivia’s behavior despite the fact they would probably be far less accepting if 1) Fitz was black and Olivia was white or 2) they don’t tend to go for any of this in their personal lives.

To my first point, Ms. Savali actually covered it by stating “Black women would not flock to Scandal. I freely admit to that. It wouldn’t matter how empathetically and compassionately their love was depicted. It. would. not. fly. Not in this life or the next.” There’s a subtle irony in that statement. Savali openly admits she’d deride the converse situation, while simultaneously dismissing any argument made by men who are making the same point.

That’s neither here nor there.

To my 2nd point, there’s two ways to go about this:

  1. The argument being “why are you so pressed to champion Fitz and Olivia’s relationship when you know good and damn well if your man was carrying on like that with a woman you’d be ready to kill everybody?”
  2. “This is just a TV show. Just because I’m championing it on TV doesn’t mean I have to subscribe to this in real life,” which makes perfect sense. For example, I frequently ask for people I dislike in movies to be killed and maimed for any perceived wrongdoing to the hero, but I don’t think that should happen in real life. Suggesting that I should hold my real life beliefs in line with something fictional is in a word…

Stupid.

What I did find interesting in Savali’s post were the inflammatory blurbs which were directed to the men who don’t like the show. This could be seen in statements such as:

  • “…I’ve long come to the conclusion that when it comes to inter-racial relationships, there are some black men who hold themselves to a different, hypocritical standard.”
  • “I swiftly discard that exaggerated criticism because it is so obviously steeped in feelings of emasculation and instinctive powerlessness that it would take much longer than a sweep of social media to peel back all of the layers and address its core.”
  • “And attempting to slut-shame black, female viewers into turning the channel just proves that a lot of egos need to be adjusted for deflation.”

The post is filled with that kind of vitriol towards men who dislike Scandal. Truthfully, it almost seems as if the author is quite upset about something and using Scandal as a “vessel” to “deliver” her message. Slight chance I could be wrong. After all, I’m only trying to ascertain how men disliking the show has to be as serious as Ms. Savali is making it out to be.

(Or she could just be a REALLY big fan of the show)

I discussed the article with another young lady just to make sure I hadn’t taken the wrong tone from it. The young lady agreed with some of the author’s points, but she too had a hard time understanding why Savali seemed to be so peeved.

“Sounds like she has some hurt feelings. What does any of what she’s saying have to actually do with the show?”

In conclusion, while there may be merit to her words, I think the article would have been better served with a much larger objective. If Savali wants to have a conversation about misogynists, slut-shaming, patriarchy, and possession, I’m all for it.

But to use one of my favorite shows to do it? Well…that’s just Scandal-ous.

RealGoesRight

RealGoesRight is a freelance writer, law graduate and lover of all things Jay-Z and Radiohead. He’s just here to write things which he believes will make a difference in the lives of the people who will read it.

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  • L.A.

    I'm a guy. I dont like scandal because It portrays a woman as a side piece to the president. Tons of women watch it and cheer this "relationship" on yet are the first ones to scream that a guy who has a side piece is dead wrong.

    • Steve

      Technically……your kind of wrong. Though it may seem as if Oliva may look off as the Presidents side piece, the President you see, is obsess with her. It clearly shows in multiply episodes his passionate feelings for her, and that he may himself is tired of his wife. His wife is aware of this and tired of him too. However they put up a good act in the public eye. If you think about it, because of his status and reputation, it wouldn't look good for them to get a divorce in the middle of his term, due to the publicity it would bring them.

      • http://biggerthomas.wordpress.com/ madscientist7

        technically he's kind of right. i'm smart enough to separate fiction from reality but lets say this were real life. i don't care how in love you are, wrong is wrong. president or not. no one asked alicia keys how in love she was with swizz. they just bashed her.
        My recent post The War on Christianity

      • http://biggerthomas.wordpress.com/ madscientist7

        technically he's kind of right. i'm smart enough to separate fiction from reality but lets say this were real life. i don't care how in love you are, wrong is wrong. president or not. no one asked alicia keys how in love she was with swizz. they just bashed her.
        My recent post The War on Christianity

  • threerings

    To be honest, it is not worth getting into and whoever wrote that other article clearly was or is hurt.

  • itswhatever

    Actually I think the reason why men dont watch is because a lot of women watch it. One of my friends actually said "When I log-on too facebook it seems to be a bunch of females raving about it, so I never took interest". I can look into that statement deeply and conclude a lot of things but to keep things light I'll just assume most men arent watching because it appears that other men arent.

    Or perhaps there are men watching but are to cool to openly admit it…perhaps because they dont want to be associated with a show that women are obsessed about…

  • https://www.facebook.com/AnthonyBrianLogan Anthony Brian Logan

    I don't like scandal because I tried to watch once and it didnt make any sense. Maybe it's meant more for the young woman audience.

  • TmD

    I actually watch Scandal with my wife. I think its a pretty good show. I know people have a lot to say of Olivia's portrayal of the presidents mistress (she is black/he is white) BUT other than that character flaw (which in my eyes makes her human) she is a fly black woman…in a power position. As much as we might not like to admit it….many women and men alike can relate to being the "other person". Does it make it right? No. Does it make her character human? Yes. I think it is a nice change up to see a character who isn't perfect on television.

  • http://www.singleblackmale.org/author/wisdomismisery/ WisdomIsMisery

    Great post. I watched one episode of Scandal and I decided it wasn’t for me. I have nothing good or bad to say about the show or a plethora of other shows I simply choose not to watch. Maybe there’s some subconscious conspiracy behind my actions, but I doubt it.

    As a casual observer, I do find it strange that a show about a woman who has an affair with a man (who happens to be white, a mute point in my view) is so highly touted by predominately women. While I find this strange, I can honestly say I generally don’t care or allow it to affect my day-to-day life being observing the circular debates on Twitter each week every time the show is on.

  • JupiterCalhoun

    I'm a man, and I think this is EASILY one of the best shows on TV right now. No bullschit.

    That said, the Fitz and Olivia relationship has become boring to me. I don't care about the interracial aspect. "Love everybody", that's what I say. As for the infidelity, it's wrong, obviously. But I get it. Fitz and Millie's relationship is like a candle. Fitz and Olivia's is a forest fire. That's a passion that's rare. But it's become boring to me…because I know it will likely never work out. The President can't divorce his wife and start seeing his mistress. Since I know it can't work out, it's pointless to speculate on.

    NOW, Abby and David, the U.S. ADA? THAT'S an interesting relationship. It's been interesting from the start and keeps building.

    Huck and Becky? That was interesting. I'd love to say I saw the twists coming, but I'd be lying.

    The show is great though. I think some minor characters are going to play bigger roles down the line. I think Edison will come to his senses and chuck deuces to Olivia. I think he may even make a run at being President, or maybe Vice-President if the loser from Grant's first election (Remember that episode?) makes another run at the White House.

    I'm also hoping Huck dispenses some kind of justice against Hollis. Anything less would be unsatisfying.

  • Stanley

    She was pouring what was on a chest for a long time. She found a chance and she just went at it.

  • Jason Gardner

    To Ms. Sivali I say, "Who Hurt You!" I can understand why some black men don't like the show. I don't watch it mainly because I'm not home when it comes on but Twitter does make it more enjoyable (or so I assume.) However there is something to be said about the depiction of Olivia Pope, as a side piece. I at one time would bring this up and state how women have the double standard, but then I had to admit it is only a show, and people can like what they like. I'm happy that Shonda Rhimes a black woman is one of the best writers out, and she cast Kerri Washington in the leading role. As far as the show goes, we'll see what happens. Or better yet Twitter will tell me what happens.

  • Dr. J

    I watched the show the first season, I actually was watching it before most of Black America realized that it was Shonda Rhimes and that the show was great. Then… I stopped watching it because it got out of hand. Olivia is a hoe, point, blank, period. The blind defense of her behavior by women in real life affected the way I reacted to her on the show.

    It also exposes Shonda Rhimes and her writing style, if you peep all the shows she's written she's always used the main character having some moral flaw that attracts the audience to relate to… She's done it with Grey's, Private Practice and now Scandal. It's her gimmick and I don't like gimmick writers unless they're super talented and complex, for ex, Aaron Sorkin.

    • Dr. J

      Just to add on the fact that I don't think it's just because she's Black…

      I think Kitty on Boss is a hoe too.
      I also think that Jessica on Homeland is a hoe too.

      Both of those characters almost made me stop watching too. However, they aren't the main focal point of the show and Black women aren't giving those women any passes at all with their issues which are spot on in the same arena as Olivia.

      • SweetSass

        Yes, men who cheat – flawed complex characters… typical in great shows like Mad Men, etc.

        But women who cheat get written off as 'hoes'… you are so deep "Dr." J.

  • TQ_Fuego

    I just couldn't make it through the first episode because the acting was very corny and contrived. Also the premise and dialogue both seemed particularly unrealistic and cheesy to me. I really wanted to like the show too. Oh well. But yeah you made an excellent point about the hypocrisy of black women who scorn both infidelity and interracial relationships where the man's black but LOVE it on this show because the black woman's seen as the "bad@ss" protagonist. I'm glad they have a show they enjoy though. Life's too short not to be entertained
    My recent post What Should They Have Taught Us

  • Paul B.

    Aside from the progressively more graphically implied love scenes, i think it’s a great show. To me, it exposes another dynamic of how some would rather be a sidepiece to a person they can never have for real (who’s in a position of power and status like few ever are) rather than be the one and only of somebody who would give them their all. In that aspect, it’s quite sad to see that being championed by so much of the audience it seems.

  • The CPT

    I'm just not interested in the show and that is why I don't watch it. Hell, I very seldom watch any mainstream television. I've heard people talking about the show (mostly women) and it still fails to attract my attention.

    Writers like the one mentioned always try to spin it into "a black woman in power is intimidating" rant and act like men (particularly black) are so put off by this, when in actuality many of us could care less.

  • AGDM

    … continued, I can't get over how much it feels like a soap opera and how intense the characters are.
    And I don't really have time to tune into a television show weekly that I'm not into that much. Has nothing to do with her being with the president.

  • SMilez_920

    1) I’ve seen one or two episodes. I’ll watch a full season when I get a chance to sit down from work. From what I’ve seen in the show and what I’ve seen in the blogosphere when it comes to interracial relationships, I can think of a few reasons why women champion “Olivia “ who if this was a real life situation would hate. (Just thought's not fact)
    2) The whole black man in power cheating with “insert non-black women here” is old; we see it in real life (the few athletes and movie stars we see on the regular) and movies (Waiting to Exhale smh).
    3) Were talking about the president of the free world, not only admiring but having a passionate affair with a black woman. I’m sure there are plenty of young blondes he could be with in the office but he chooses Olivia.
    4) The painted the wife to be pretty cold to an extent.
    5) Olivia is well dressed, smart and the boss, who wouldn’t enjoy seeing her “work”
    6) It’s entertainment, fantasy and entertainment were invented so we can enjoy things that in real life we know, aren’t right to an extent.

  • Larry

    Real quick:

    1. I like the show. Been watching it since day 1.

    2. The reason one sees quite a few jokes, memes or tweets referencing the hypocrisy of women rooting for the "side piece" if you will in my opinion is simply because the narrative revolving around men cheating, love and relationships on various blog posts, studies and round table discussions often get demonized when men explain the reasons for the affair and there's a big uproar about it and how they (women) would never let that happen or get involved with a man that is taken.

    The reason you don't see similar hypocrisy messages about shows that involve violence, serial killers, drug dealers and/or mobsters is because there's not a study from The Atlantic every weekend about the why serial killers aren't married by 35 that spread across the internet causing a macro conversation or what have you.

    • Larry

      Energy follows attention. Period. A lot of energy is put on a certain topic…a lot of attention is gonna be brought to you when a hint of hypocrisy comes up no matter how irrelevant it is to real life. I, personally, realize it's a television show and not naive enough to think most women would condone such things in real life. Clearly on social media no one is above being called out, rightly or wrongly. You can choose to ignore it or address. Me? I choose to lay in the background and chuckle at a joke or two.

    • fourpageletter

      The reason you don't see similar hypocrisy messages about shows that involve violence, serial killers, drug dealers and/or mobsters is because there's not a study from The Atlantic every weekend about the why serial killers aren't married by 35 that spread across the internet causing a macro conversation or what have you.

      and there it is. oop.
      My recent post QOTW: if you could learn anything, what would it be?

  • warrenaz

    To be frank, Black men aren't big consumers of black female entertainment/ers at all. So in this case Scandal is just another show/album/movie/project featuring a black woman that black men aren't supporting.

  • fourpageletter

    i read the original article and while there is ALOT to disagree with, there are a few truths.

    most of the men on my tl and a few in this comment section dislike the show because it seems as though we women are championing infidelity. which is laughable to me. im suspending reality (because reality can be craptastic and exhausting) to engage and watch a show that has an interesting twist. sue me. people root for dexter who kills people. and? its effen entertainment. i wish people would stop trying to ascribe character traits to a person based on what i watch. i also watch football…does that make me a brute?

    what is very interesting is that when it comes to the interracial aspect of it all – she brings up a point. many black men like to pretend they are 'above it all' when it comes to wm/bw relationships, but my twitter timeline blew the hell up when black men THOUGHT Elle Varner was getting engaged to a white dude. there are hypocrisies there, and as on many other occasions, men like to make it seems as though black women are the only ones who check for/root against/have issues with black/white relationships. that is NOT the truth.

    like rgr says, kirsten seems to want to have a conversation, but maybe to get her opinion heard, used a social media popular show to do it. and in the end, diluted her own messaging.
    My recent post QOTW: if you could learn anything, what would it be?

    • Southerngyrl_

      Yeah, I am going to have to throw my hat in with this comment right here. Seriously, if you watch the show and like the character, you also condone her foolishness? I like Bill Clinton too, but yeah…no. If you liked and watched The Wire are you condoning and glorifying the life of drug dealers? I like my tv the way I like my books, as escapism.

      The way people are linking a tv show to someone's personal beliefs are hilarious. Thanks for the laughs though.

      I am not even going to get on the interracial aspect of it. I went down that road a few posts ago, but apparently that type of outrage only exists if it comes from black women (sarcasm).

  • ThatDaDivA

    Lets face it people: CERTAIN black men aren’t going to support a tv/film project that emulates, highlights and shows a multidimensional black woman that’s desirable and attractive to MEN OF ALL RACES. Gives us waaaayyyy too much credibility.

    On another note, as a proud #SCANDALITE, this show is written for women by women. Race is irrelevant. The intricacy of the plot lines and overlapping emotional relationships are really NOT for all guys, although ALL my homies (married & single), are addicted to this show!

    And for the few DUMMIES on this site who continue to use the genetic, stupid arse phrase “Who Hurt You?”, every DAMN time a post is written or an opinion is voiced that’s different from theirs: GET OVER YOURSELF. Leave that *ish in 2012. People are allowed to disagree, stop bring a clown, it’s tiresome and adds NOTHING to the conversation expect fake keyboard thuggery.

    Delete yourself.

  • Young Heaux

    This is the first show where i've seen people really get fired up and debate about it. Is that what happens when a show gets on primetime television created by a black woman whose main character is a black woman? It seems like folks getting mad at Kerry Washington for portraying a mistress. In fact, there are much more morally heinous things O.Pope has done in the story including falsifying presidential election results, and the worst, using her friend's past domestic abuse against her. She clearly has both good and bad qualities, but that's how it usually goes when a writer is trying to portray a complex character. interesting to me that being involved w/ a married man, above all, is supposed to be unforgivable in some of yall eyes even in a fake tv character.
    My recent post "Django Unchained": Thoughts (spoilers)

    • http://www.singleblackmale.org/author/wisdomismisery/ WisdomIsMisery

      This is the first show where i’ve seen people really get fired up and debate about it.

      Word? This is the first show? Ever? ….I guess you aren’t on a place called “the Internet” very often.

  • http://biggerthomas.wordpress.com/ madscientist7

    i like the show. i don't care that kerry washington is screwing a white man. doesn't bother me one bit. she's still eye candy. its a tv show with a script. if women want to champion olivia pope let them. its not affecting my personal life.
    My recent post The War on Christianity

  • cynicaloptmst81

    I'm extremely new to Scandal. The hoopla sucked me in, I watched the 1st/2nd season over the holidays, and started up with the everyone else last Thursday.

    Millie and Fitz are married on paper only. They are, according to Millie (a former lawyer), "serving their country". Millie and Fitz are together so that they can achieve their political goals. The love was gone WAY before Olivia entered the picture. And it was OLIVIA who not only ended the romance but stopped Fitz from leaving his wife! What's occuring in this triangle is not ideal…or the right way to go about things. But, lets not act like Fitz betrayed his loving, loyal, angelic wife to slam it up with the hot black chick on his staff. That is NOT the case. Not to mention that I believe that Millie was in on the plan with Hollis to kill Fitz…

    What Olivia and Harrison (with his FINE self…JESUS) did to Abby and David is all the way effed up. I'd never forgive Olivia for that if I was them.

  • http://glippost.wordpress.com Darrk Gable

    I’ll venture to say I’m one of the few who doesn’t care one way or the other. My wife enjoys the show, so sometimes I watch it with her. Yet, if I don’t see it, I’m just as cool. To the writers’ point, something about the show must’ve struck a nerve with the author of the Clutch piece. There’s a great chance she’s not going to admit it, but the disparate points and conclusions that she makes are counterintuitive. It’s hard to make impassioned and informed points without having some sort of background with the subject. Perhaps she does know all too well what Ms. Pope is going through.

  • h.h.h.

    i thought it was a show for the chicks, so i just never had a big interest in it. positive or negative.

  • Rich

    It's fiction. Any adult should be able to separate that from reality.

    …I'm a fan of The Wire, but I don't condone drug dealing, co-op's of drug dealers, and gay robbers robbing drug dealers with big a$$ rifles….

  • MySister'sKeeper

    This irrational nonsense is typical of Savali's writings. I glanced the article when it was posted and many of those 227 commentators completely disagreed with her opinion, which was a wonderful relief. Anytime she can be anti black men or anti God, she runs for it. I don't understand her unfounded anger but I wish she weren't given such a platform to display it.

  • DanaCC

    I think men just aren't interested in the soap opera-ish-ness of the show. It's drama on steroids. The characters talk too fast and the dramatic intensity is almost laughable.

    Also, they aren't interested in watching an adulterous relationship between a white man and black woman anymore than we (black women) are interested in watching a black man having an adulterous relationship with a white woman. Remember when Taye Diggs and Blair Underwood had shows with white leading ladies? Right. You don't remember b/c you didn't watch. Neither did I.

    I don't think the black man's reasoning for not watching the show is "that deep".

    • http://twitter.com/jtSolBroSupreme @jtSolBroSupreme

      I concur ;-)

  • chas0x01

    scandal is bout black women enjoying he image of interracial relationships with white men, promoting white men, and being the white man's biggest cheerleader. so why should any black man co-sign that?

    imo, african american women for the past 40 years have really gone outta their way to burn all their bridges with black men.

  • http://twitter.com/jtSolBroSupreme @jtSolBroSupreme

    I actually like the show….I know several brothas who do. For me, I have to catch a show from the very beginning so I know who's what, what's going on, folks' history, yada yada. Had I NOT caught the show from the beginning and just tuned into an episode without knowing what is going on, I probably would not be able to get in to it. I was the same way with the series "24"…I came in on Season 3 and was intrigued. Got seasons 1 and 2 on netflix and watched them back to back…then waited for season 3 to come out so I could watch it back to back.

    Basically, Scandal is a NITETIME SOAP with a lot more edge thrown in. Sure, there is the dynamic of Black and White….If she were white, asian, hispanic and the president were black, you would have a lot [BUT NOT ALL] sistas complaining how they don't like it or cannot get in to it. Nothing new here.

    What I DO find interesting is that everyone seems to have a love interest EXCEPT for the brotha on the show – CAN HE GET SOME ASS TOO, SHONDA? LOL…NO, SERIOUSLY…CAN HE?

    Overall, its pretty interesting. I can understand why some people don't like it or cannot get in to it. Obviously, I am not blind to that.

  • Jay Dee

    Another show about trife hoes and the simps who fall for em?

    PASS.

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