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Olivia Pope isn’t a Problematic Fave, She’s Just Problematic — BGN Opinion

Olivia Pope isn’t a Problematic Fave, She’s Just Problematic — BGN Opinion

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 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.

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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.”

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  • I see no lies here. I gave up in the 3rd season when they moved Liv into the White House- there was no way the GOP would let that happen. And I’m with you on Olitz, initially I bought their love story but after a while I hated him. He’s boorish and controlling I loved when Papa Pope read him for filth. And why doesn’t Liv have any Black girlfriends?

  • I agree that the Shonda destroyed the character of Olivia through bad writing and illogical decisions. Did anyone ever say give us more B613 and not Olivia handling cases?

    However the author of this article does not mention the three most toxic relationships on the show: Olivia and Papa Pope – extreme emotional abuse via Black male patriarchy, Olivia and Jake – creepily incestuous plus physically/emotionally abusive and Olivia and Mellie – abusive White feminism.

    Actually Fitz is the least of Olivia’s problem since they have spent most of the six seasons apart.

    Olivia needed to have a friend with no agenda (not Abby) to talk to since therapy was not an option with all her national security secrets. Shonda missed an opportunity to show a Black woman and man as just friends by not investing in the Olivia and Marcus relationship. Marcus could have been a confidante and someone to serve as the voice of reason when Olivia needed a sounding board. This was the role I imagined for Harrison at the start of the show but it did not materialize.

    I was hoping that at least one of her parents would be sane but alas there was no hope to be found there.

  • Agree wholehartedly. The Olivia Fitz relationship has been the worst part of the show for a few seasons now for me. Give me more Poppa Pope, more Jake, hell even more Quinn at times.

    Not Abby though, she’s the worst.

    I do like how they ended the season with the Dark Olivia taking over. It was only natural. Even her dad saw it happening.

  • I’ve never watched this show, but I appreciate your summary it makes a lot of sense. I was never impressed enough to watch a show that takes the most glamours Black woman and makes her the side chick to a successful White man. She’s his clean up woman who runs after him and fixes things that doesn’t make her powerful. She sleeps with someone elses husband, wears great clothes, and has steamy sex that’s no different from the girl who has nothing but brand named clothing and sexy stories to retell. Show me a black woman who’s attractive, powerful, loved, mentally stable, and capable of being more than a stereotype and you have my attention. This show did only one thing for Black women that was use a Black female lead character in a position to be admired for her beauty and sexuality, but even that goes out the window if her character is capable of anything including murder and habitual lying. There was nothing about her character that equaled worth being protected which sadly since Black women are the least protected human beings on this Earth the expectations for any Black female character in film will always end up being exactly what reality is… nothing.

  • “A character that was once the pinnacle for positive Black female representation became a clichéd, tired, worn out stereotype”.

    Olivia is no more a Black woman stereotype, then Cookie Lyons, Annalise Keating or Issa Rae. Where are the articles on their problematic professional and personal life choices?

    It seems this author just wanted a forum to rant about Fitz since I see no depth to the analysis of Olivia as a character. Olivia was never a positive role model except in terms of her work and confidence in herself. Shonda and Kerry have never said Olivia is a role model.

    BTW every positive Black woman that you see publicly has private misery – Oprah, Michelle Obama, etc. They are not stock figures who are perfect in every way and we need to stop pretending that they are in order to feel better about our self. That is a heavy burden for them to carry.

  • I’m surprised this show stayed on so long. I gave it up a while ago. I couldn’t root for her for still being with Fritz and all the crap she did to keep him in power.

  • Because it’s common knowledge what the popular show is about from clips, reviews, summaries, and advertisements. No offense, but this was a very dumb question for both you and the people who liked your question. I hope my answer was not too obvious I feel like it was. lol

  • Fitz and Liv’s “love” is the reason I stopped after Season 4. When she walked into that white house and kissed him on the balcony, i was done.
    I haven’t regret my decision as my friends who still watch the show regularly give me “updates” which prove that Liv is so different from her first season self.
    And yes, Cookie’s addiction to Lucious is the reason i stopped watching Empire. I’m all for drama, but can black women ever break some of the cycles of abusive relationships?

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