An Incomplete List of Things on #SCANDAL that are Too Impossible to Believe (and Why I’ll Watch it Anyway)

scandal promo

WHEN LAST WE SAW the motley crew comprising the dramatis personae of SCANDAL, which returns tomorrow on ABC, Jake Ballard was in his skivvies, hot for sex on the piano; Mama Pope was in (illegal) federal custody; Mellie was menacing Elizabeth; the vice president was demanding an attack on West Angola; Cyrus Beene was engaged to a whore; Huck was waiting for his ex-wife to read two boxes of files so she would believe him about B-613; Rowan Pope was waxing nostalgic about Stevie Wonder; Abby had just copped to David about shagging Leo; Quinn and Charlie were patching up their latest lovers’ quarrel; Fitz was being blackmailed by his veep; and Olivia Pope and her twitchy lower lip had (gasp!) vanished into thin air.

Not one of those plotlines is remotely believable. Not a one. Which is par for the course in Shondaland. No show that I watch bends credulity quite like SCANDAL. Presidential assassination attempts, election rigging, black ops on US soil…and that was just the first season. At this point, they’ve up the ante and raised the stakes and beaten gambling metaphors to death to such a degree that the only way to create more tension is have aliens descend and take over the White House (Fitz would sleep with the lead alien, played by Tricia Helfer, and Liv would get jealous…actually, this is not a terrible idea). Nevertheless, I remain hooked on the show, in the way that I can’t stop eating candy corn at Halloween.

In the interest of my own sanity, however, I submit to you a list, by no means complete, of things on the show I find impossible to believe. Here they are, in alphabetical order:


I’m not one to quibble about a fictitious quasi-governmental assassination squad—in fact, I would not be surprised if there was a dog-eared copy of Totally Killer hanging around the writer’s room—but I find almost nothing about B-613 remotely believable. Like, the Secret Service guy would really whack his friend’s son, because Command said so? Really? And why would putting someone in “the hole” be a good way to motivate them to do anything beyond go insane? Why can Jake walk around the District shooting people and get away with it just because he happens to be Command at the time? And why does the agency sound like a multi-vitamin?

Ballard, Jake
The least believable character on a show full of them. Whenever he says something like, “I can kill you right now,” it makes me giggle. I don’t know that Scott Foley could beat me at arm-wrestling. The only moment in his entire run on the show I bought is when he broke into the dance in Liv’s apartment.

Beene, Cyrus
He makes Haldeman look like Mother Theresa. He’s gotten the president into so much trouble—rigging elections, killing people, screwing whores, etc.—that if this were ancient Rome, he would have been thrown to the lions two seasons ago. Yet Cyrus Beene is a survivor! He is not the shell of a man packing his bags! He lives on, to deliver a monologue in his quiet-then-loud, Toby-from-West-Wing voice.

A talking dog would be more realistic than this lovable assassin. A talking dog who eats lollipops and calls everyone “Robin.”

Command (aka Rowan Pope)
The single best moment of the entire series is when Olivia got into his car, and we thought he was going to kill her, and she just went, “Dad?” Since then, Rowan-Who-Is-Sometimes-Called-Eli Pope has became a caricature of himself, slurping his pricey wine, launching into the same illogical soliloquy. Joe Morton is a fantastic actor. I would like to see him do Othello. This shit is beneath him.

Died with Harrison.

Grant, Fitzgerald, III (Fitz)
How did this black hole of charisma win not one but two elections? Fitz also looks alarmingly like my Weeklings co-editor Sean Beaudoin, which never fails to amuse me. Sean does have charisma, though, and would make a much better president.

Grant, Mellie
Her deep depression after the death of her grown son would make more sense if her infant son (remember him?) was with her at all, ever, or even alluded to. Bellamy Young looks the part, but she plays every scene like it’s her first week in acting school.

The other day, I was looking for a file on my computer. I opened the folder icon, typed in a search, went through a bunch of documents, and had to manually inspect the folders because the search function didn’t work. Twenty minutes later, I finally found the file. Huck can hack into any known computer network in a tenth of that time, find exactly what he wants, and no one ever notices. I realize his boss is the president’s main squeeze, but don’t you think someone at the NSA would notice all the activity at that IP address? Is Tor really that powerful? Someone alert Glenn Greenwald.

hats, white
Purchased, perhaps, at Hats in the Belfry, the haberdasher’s on Wisconsin Avenue. (Is it still there? It was there when I was in college.) This metaphor is so tired, it makes a mother of newborn triplets look like Homer Simpson in full repose.

hole, the
In real life, you go crazy after two weeks confined this way. Which anyone as familiar with KUBARK as the staff writers of this show should well know. So…yeah.

Huck can be reunited with his family if his ex-wife believes his tale of B-613, so why doesn’t white-hatted Olivia Pope just go to the house and make that happen? She fixes all this shit, but she can’t do one simple thing for her slave boy? I liked Guillermo Diaz so much more on Weeds.

Put it this way: if Olivia were to make something out of grapes, do you really think it would be jam?

Here’s a fun drinking game: watch every episode of SCANDAL, and take a shot every time the President or First Lady mention their kids. Take two shots when one appears. You will always be sober enough to drive. Nothing about those two suggests that they are parents at all.

kill deck, the
Who did the print job? Where did they get those dorky images? Is Quinn really a vital enough member of B-613 to merit her own card?

love triangle
Watching Fitz or Jake have sex with Olivia is about as erotic as watching one’s parents go at it. Which is to say, not at all (sorry, Mom). The house in Vermont, the place in the sun, the shit of the bull.

morgue, the
It may as well be Pope Associates’ supply closet. They have 24/7 access, and they can leave with fingers.

North, Elizabeth
At least one of the Bluths found a decent job.

Perkins, Quinn
If you recall from the pilot, Quinn was sort of an ingenue, an up-and-coming Olivia Pope. That’s why she was recruited. She was a point-of-entry character, a new face in the organization, someone to show us the ropes. What happened? It’s like they change their mind every few episodes. I feel bad for the actress, getting her scripts, being like, “Really? Huck’s gonna pull out my tooth?” Katie Lowes gives it her all every week, I’ll give her that.

Pope, Mama (Maya Lewis)
She has spent the last 20-some-odd years in solitary confinement, and emerges 1) perfectly, evilly sane, and 2) relentless in her determination to wreak political havoc. If anyone else came out after that time, they’d maybe be happy just walking on the beach, or having a hot cup of coffee.

Pope, Olivia
I think there should be a SCANDAL prequel called Growing Up Pope, featuring a young Rowan, Maya, and Liv. Because those family snippets are the one thing about her that doesn’t pass the smell test. (The good wine certainly does). Also, where does she get that phone?

Rosen, David
Famed conspiracy theory figure David Icke says that certain humans are not really human, but rather members of the reptile species that lives at the center of the earth and secretly rule the world. Joshua Molina looks like one of those Icke reptiles. Whatever, at least we don’t have to watch him having shower sex this season.

West Angola
West Angola would be in the Atlantic, which I suppose is a cartographical joke. At least on Homeland they use real countries. Speaking of which, wouldn’t a Homeland/Scandal crossover be awesome? Carrie is summoned to meet the president…and it’s Fitz! Meanwhile Cyrus and Saul talk shop, and (Peter) Quinn and Quinn (Perkins) shag.

Whelan, Abby
She and Olivia were in law school together? Really? And didn’t they vet her before making her press secretary? How many apartments did she break into in her career? Strange to think she and C.J. Cregg ever held the same job. I miss The West Wing.



About Greg Olear

Greg Olear (@gregolear) is a founding editor of The Weeklings and the author of the novels Totally Killer and Fathermucker, an L.A. Times bestseller.
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