When I’m reviewing a continuing series, generally just sit down and write the review cold; I know exactly what I want to say, sometimes I’ve even had a couple of bullet points that have been stuck in my brain from mid-season. Other times though I’m not sure what I want to say and my first action is usually to look back over things I’ve said about past seasons and see how my feelings have developed.
Sometimes that works really well, I can comment on how a series has addressed previous criticisms and/or developed new ones. Other times, it doesn’t work out so well and this is one of those times. I read back my review of Scandal’s season three and nodded along with myself. By the time I got to the end I was rather pleased with myself for (in my smug opinion) a pretty good review that got to the heart of the issues with the series. But I’m also deeply disappointed with myself, because despite being spot on about why the series is rubbish and getting worse… I still sat through another 20 odd episodes this season.
I mean the whole thing is just idiotic. Which I’d be kind of ok with, because the dialogue is snappy, the monologues heartfelt and the characters are fun to watch thanks to some great performances. But at some point through the season I stopped caring about the characters and they instantly became phenomenally annoying.
Olivia is the centre of this cloud of awfulness and all her attempts to make it better just make it worse. I can sympathise with crap luck, but she’s just out of control at this point and dragging everyone down. Her endless whining about wanting to be with the president just bores me, because fundamentally – he’s not a very nice person. He’s like Derek Shepherd (who I’ve also never thought is the least bit dreamy), he’s arrogant, self-righteous, ambitious for all the wrong reasons, manipulative and awful to the people around him. If he wants to be with Olivia so bad, STOP BEING PRESIDENT! Quit. Just go. Everyone around him is selling their souls (without too much encouragement it has to be said) for him to be president and all he seems to care about is making jam and babies with Olivia. So for the sake of everyone… go do that!
Once that thought has crossed your mind, unfortunately the whole series unravels, because all the stories are basically built on keeping the president in office and no one seems to be willing to look at why that’s a good thing either personally or for the country.
God, if last season you thought that their relationship and his presidency was bad news for everyone then it’s got nothing on this year when they literally cause a war. Oh, and now his equally awful wife is repeating all the same mistakes. Everyone claims to be trying to do good, to be the white hat, but for a start, I’m not sure their aims are really that noble and for a second, they’re so bad at it that the trail of destruction left in their wake rivals anything that the black hats could do!
I should probably make the same claim, that I won’t bother with Scandal next year, but I’m self-aware enough to acknowledge that I’ll probably be back. Last time I said that I needed some rubbish, mindless programmes on my schedule and that is still true. But there’s also a momentum to my watching, or possibly some sort of unhealthy addiction. The briefest of flashes of Shonda Rhimes’ great writing, the connections between the characters and the acting talent of Kerry Washington who brings nuance and subtlety to a script that doesn’t deserve it… those moments are enough to keep me hooked. So heaven help me… I’ll see you next year for pretty much the same review.