by Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses

(–Last Thursday night, I could not contain myself because I was so excited about the return of ABC’s Scandal. There! …My dirty little secret is out-I watch Scandal. I have to admit, much as I maintain that other people’s opinions of me are generally irrelevant, I do feel some weird obligation to explain why I am glued to the small screen, on Thursday nights, watching Scandal. When I find an explanation, I’ll be sure to let you know. But I digress…

Today, I came across a blog post by Mo Ivory, the Director of Political-Community Outreach for CBS Radio Atlanta and host of “The Mo Ivory Show” on News/Talk 1380 WAOK. In the blog post, she likens Olivia Pope (played by Kerry Washington) to “Joseline from “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta” or Kim from “Real Housewives of Atlanta”” and goes on to say the small distinction is that Pope just wears better clothes.

The reason why Pope appears to be celebrated is that Black people have been starving to see a strong Black woman, on television, that is actually smart, beautiful and accomplished. Along comes Kerry Washington, playing Olivia Pope, and it seems that the call for a Black woman on television, who’s not embarrassing herself (much like most of the reality show women), has been answered. The problem though, is that upon further inspection, Pope does fail to answer the call that many were glad to see First Lady Michelle Obama answer. Just when Black women were neatly and tightly squeezed into a small and rigid stereotype of an angry, smart mouthed, Jesus loving, un-marriable, ignorant mess, along came Mrs. Obama. She stomped all over the stereotype and caused those who had taken it and run with it to question it.

Then comes Kerry Washington, as Olivia Pope…As Ivory points out,

“Here’s the truth: She’s having an affair with a married man who made sure he secured a really good job for her that she has been able to turn into a profitable business. But not before she engaged in criminal activity to make sure he would get his job and formed a partnership with another woman he sleeps with. She sneaks over in the middle of the night for booty calls and has her “yes” men and women to cover her tracks. She keeps a thug around (Huck) for protection and to do her dirty work. She keeps a good guy on the side who she should “really be with” in order for her to claim to herself and others that she is finished being a w***e. If this plot was being cast as a reality show it would be called, “Housewives of America,” “Love & Hip Hop USA” or “Politicians’ Wives.””

So, here’s the bottom line; we can watch Scandal and be entertained by the drama and the steamy love scenes between Olivia Pope and Mrs. Grant’s husband, but if we are looking for a smart, beautiful, talented and moral woman to which we can point when our daughters and younger sisters ask us who they should look to as an example of respectable conduct, we must keep looking.

I won’t stop watching “Scandal”; it has, for me, become my apple pie and ice cream-the once a week guilty pleasure that I used to indulge in. I would eat it knowing that even though I thoroughly enjoyed it, it had no nutritional value and was doing a good job of reversing my weight-loss and health and wellness goals. As long as I only indulged once a week or less, and then maintained a good diet and exercised, I was okay.

Let’s keep Scandal in perspective; much like my apple pie treat, it may feel good to eat [read:watch] every now and then, but let’s not ask Olivia Pope to be something that she is not. She is a woman who seems to be in charge and in control but somehow, when it comes to her romantic life, she turns into a high school girl who can’t control her raging hormones and her impulse to do something that she knows is absolutely unacceptable.

The one thing that I feel we can celebrate is that Kerry Washington has a good steady job that she appears to love. Good for Kerry and congratulations to Shodra Rhimes for putting together a show that is proving to be a great success.

(Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses helps Black Women thrive in their lives and careers. She is a Social Commentator, an Editor at Your Black World , Assistant Professor of Professional Studies and the reigning Mrs Botswana. Visit Nomalanga’s blog at

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