On “Scandal,” when Olivia Pope, no relation to Pope Francis or the lesbian cruise company, says to her ex, Fitz the president, “Fish rot from the head,” she says it with an extra bit of actressy nostril flare that means she really means it.
Fitz was one of the most unlikable TV presidents ever until Kevin Spacey’s President Francis Underwood came along. But for no apparent reason, Fitz inspires undying love and loyalty in his supporters. He asks flatly, “What does that mean?”
Olivia gets on her best high horse, rears back and tells Fitz POTUS that the reason some of his Secret Service detail had a party that got out of hand and a young woman was killed, is that his men have to escort prostitutes and extreme fangirls up to his quarters and that is just not a good example to give to the agents, hence the thing about the fish. She finishes her routine and nails her landing with an amazing patented Olivia Pope laser glare.
“Scandal” went over the shark and through the woods a few seasons ago, yet we watch it and every time, especially when we’ve forgotten to record it and have to sit through muted commercials because ABC has disabled fast forward, we take bets on what disease the ad is about, and vow to break up with Olivia.
But then Shonda Rimes and her leading ladies, “Scandal’s” Kerry Washington, “How to Get Away With Murder’s” Viola Davis and “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Ellen Pompeo do a commercial for Hillary Clinton and we’re all BFFs again and have set the DVR for “record every episode.” At least I hope I did.
We all have our election-anxiety coping mechanisms: adult coloring books, tidying up, binge-purge watching “The Great British Bakeoff,” or sucker-punching protesters. Shondaland with its strong, complicated black and white women in the lead is my happy place.
This election has jumped the shark.
The GOP has always treated the presidency as its own entitlement program. In fact they get quite put out when they lose their executive suite to a young white Arkansas governor or a young black Illinois senator. How dare they?!
The Obstinence Only Party lampoons identity politics and its correctness and then uses class, race and LGBTs to divide and conquer. I’ve never believed that the GOP will be destroyed in this war between the base, AKA ‘voters’ and the establishment. Time and time again they’ve proven that their mascot is not an elephant but a zombie.
Trump has merely rented out the Republican Party to run a white male identity campaign. Even he underestimated how many chairs and tents he would need. But the Don of Twitterland is legitimate hair apparent of the rot of a party that stole an election, started a capricious, endless war in Iraq and trashed the economy.
Olivia Pope got it right. Now I want to see her turn her gladiator fixing skills to that short, white, pragmatic policy wonk of a vice president, and get her elected president.
Kate Clinton is a longtime humorist. She writes regularly for the Blade.