As Scandal approaches its last season, I want to talk about Olivia Pope as a character. She’s often seen as a powerful Black woman character, who “handles” things, but as the show has progressed, I think the writing — especially her relationship with Fitz — has weakened her.
What I’m about to say will probably bring me heat, but I don’t care, bring it. The writers have done a great disservice to Black women in media and film with the de-evolution of Olivia Pope. A character that was once the pinnacle for positive Black female representation became a clichéd, tired, worn out stereotype. Olivia has committed, murder, perjury, held people at gunpoint, lied continuously… the list goes on and on. Most of her team doesn’t even like her anymore. She has become the trope of becoming the ‘angry black woman who’s a sex maniac,’ and somehow she is to remain a bastion of womanhood and feminism? Heck no.
Shonda and crew have written Liv into a corner where she will continue to be a neurotic, overdramatic woman who has clear signs of PTSD. Instead of dealing with it in an appropriate manner and getting counseling — it would have been great to see a black woman getting treatment and not stigmatized for her mental illness — Olivia ignores her issues and turns to sex with her abuser and alcoholism.
Yes, it’s time to talk about Fitz. The show portrays Fitz as Olivia’s one true love, but is it really a “beautiful ship?” (As diehard Olitz fans continue to proclaim on Twitter, Tumblr, and Fanfiction.net.) To me, they have one of the most dysfunctional relationships I’ve ever seen portrayed in fictional television. Both of them have cheated on the other, they lie continuously, Olivia insults Fitz just as much as she kisses him. Fitz betrayed his office and the people he vowed to serve over and over again to fit Olivia’s agendas. Olivia scammed the American people, took their votes and threw it on a pile of lies and deception; she robbed them of their choice. Fitz has allowed Mellie to call Olivia a whore to her face in front of him. Olivia allowed herself to be pimped out by Rowan and Mellie to get Fitz to do something he didn’t want to do. Olivia aborted Fitz’s baby without even letting him know, then turned around and mentioned it to Fitz, despite him knowing nothing about her pregnancy. Olivia chose to work in the White House for Mellie, after telling Fitz it wasn’t what she wanted.
Fitz and Olivia don’t have a great love story. They have a sad abusive pit of negative emotions. They have a relationship that, without sex, they have nothing to build a stable, mutually respectful and honest relationship on. Vermont? They’d kill each other isolated in Vermont once the honeymoon phase of sex and jam dried up. So again, I ask is Olitz really a beautiful ship? I ask because I honestly don’t believe it anymore.
Instead of maintaining her agency in a healthy way, we’ve seen Olivia constantly insulted, belittled, manhandled, deceived, called every negative name in the book by every single character on this show, and all of this was done by a woman who calls herself a titan, feminist, and advocate for black women. To that, I say a definitive NO. There is nothing redeemable or admirable to be found in the character of Olivia Pope. What she once was she no longer is.
Carolyn Hinds: “I’m a Barbadian living in Toronto, Canada, I’m a nerd who spends time coming up with plot theories for TV shows, an avid fan of Jane Austin, my favorite shows are The Walking Dead, The Expanse and blackish. I’m an avid reader and will do karaoke anytime anywhere.”