How #Scandal reveals the Bougie Black Experience (Finally!)


Yeah uh so... if you haven't watched last night's #Scandal, just stop reading. Seriously. I don't need ya'll up in arms telling me I spoiled it for you. Back away from the blog and come back when you've watched television responsibly. ;-)

We were able to spend a little more time with Super Spy Rowan Pope, the leader of B613. And while he is still ruthless as all the damns, he also made some good sense. He was wildly derisive of Olivia's dream to become First Lady. "Were you not raised for better?" Um. Good point. Olivia need not stand in anyone's shadow so why is she so busy orbiting the sun? In fact, as much as my father wanted me to marry a doctor or a lawyer (bless his heart) he wanted me to become one even more.

My favorite line (and one I'd heard often growing up) came when Papa Pope reminded Daughter Dearest that to survive and succeed in this world, she had to be "twice as good to get half as far." Now this was so damn real, my older brother (who I hoodwinked into watching with me) and I had to fist bump each other. This is why we need a Shonda Rhimes writing and a Kerry Washington acting in prime time TV. That line is so deeply embedded in the black upwardly mobile experience that we could recite the end of line before she formulated it.

My father drilled this into us from day one and my mother repeated it in case we forgot. It's why they sent us to private school and forced us to go to cotillion dance classes and charm school. It's why they took us to the opera and theater and played Pavarotti with as much volume as Gladys and the Pips. It's why my sister took horseback riding, my older brother played the cello, I learned tennis and my younger brother had a clarinet. They wanted us well-rounded and able to hold our own in any situation this country threw at us.

We don't see enough of that (for lack of a better term) Huxtablism on TV or in movies or if we do, it's shown with a sneer as if all folks with a little bit of bouge are snobby and too busy looking down on everybody else to remember that they are black too. Trust, we remember. I'm so over the stereotype. But let's move on...

So as we watched them detail Liv's life in boarding school, on ski slopes and onto Princeton, we cheered. Not because her life was perfect (whose is?) or because she has overcome a "turbulent" family life (more to be explored there no doubt). I love Olivia Pope because she is bringing a multi-faceted view of the black experience to a wide audience. 

It's not just the steamy cocoa with Fitz or the brilliant dialogue with OPA or the droolworthy wardrobe. It's that she's allowed to be excellent and flawed, educated and silly, superb and sinful, paid and played. Her life may be going to hell in a hand basket but she's going to keep the ratchet in the closet and go down looking and sounding classy as hell. Even more importantly, she has the brain power, the upbringing and the education to put the basket back together and keep it moving. Olivia Pope is black 'n bougie, ya'll. Amen.

Thoughts, comments, insights? What did you think of Episode 3:1? Do share... 

p.s. Can we get a slow clap going for Joe Morton? "I am the Hell AND the High Water." Okay then, sir.