The Fandom Friday recurring theme on my blog breaks down why I have an affinity for certain forms of media. (Check out my Veronica Mars post!)
I talked about how I loved the story and character arcs in Veronica Mars. The kick ass female lead and detective noir teenage drama definitely helped me fall in love with it.
Scandal on ABC, one of the many amazing television shows created by Shonda Rhimes, follows a realistic strong woman, Olivia Pope, while she "handles" scandals and big picture ''problems" for Washington elite.
I mean, who doesn't want to walk away from a situation like this?
I want to be Olivia Pope. I want to wear all white designer clothes and drink good red wine and carry myself with so much confidence that I can seduce the President of the United States. (SPOILER! Also, if the NSA is reading this, please tell Obama I say, "What's up?")
She and her team of "gladiators" handled convoluted and interwoven crises with skill and confidence that I totally wish I had. The story arc flashes back in time to show how Olivia got to where she is, how relationships have grown and changed and how everyone or everything is related. The timelines cross over and the lives of all the characters are woven together beautifully.
Shonda Rhimes is amazing. I'm sure she knows this, but I want to point out a few things that she really nails in Scandal.
Each of the characters have distinct voices, personalities, skills and traits. Their pasts are believable and it shows how six seconds of backstory can give a secondary character depth and significance. You end up really caring about each of the characters and you love them for their quirks and their faults. For example, you learn about Abby Whelan, Olivia's sassy and judgmental right hand gal. She apparently was in a politically arranged marriage to an abusive drunk Governor. Olivia took a tire iron to the husband's knee and got Abby a divorce lawyer. She took Abby in and now, Abby would "go off a cliff" for Olivia. With that short amount of information, you know Abby's strength (she understands politics and can see through many of the veils of politics and society) and her weakness (she can't stand for any abuse of any kind). You understand her undying loyalty to Olivia even when her choices don't seem so wise to the outset. The viewer also sees the kind of woman Olivia is. She's strong and caring and she's not afraid to kick some ass.
I want to learn how to give my characters depth and voice like Shonda Rhimes.
Scandal flashbacks give you just a taste of the past. Just enough to keep the viewer sitting on the edge of their seat for just a few more moments of flashback. It's not needless exposition. It's important. It's life-changing for the characters.
It's also about timing. The writers only reveal just enough information that the viewer needs to understand the character motivation or to see the real "problem" of the episode. Don't write a flashback just because you had this really great idea during a free-write session. Write the flashback that the reader needs and only the parts they need. Pretty soon, they're going to be begging for all the information.
Obviously, the Men.
I'm going to be doing a ManCrush Monday: Scandal Edition but here's a short review. The men in the show are faulty (as are the women) and they are hot (as are the women), but they each have their purpose. There is so extra characters that you can throw away in a show with a huge cast. Fitz, the painfully manipulated President, loves Olivia but can't love her AND fulfill the duties and expectations of his life. Huck, the mostly silent muscle, has a heartbreaking past of being brain washed and changed on his basic humanity level by the secret, secret, dangerous "work" (mostly killing people) that he had to do. Jake, who also had to do secret, secret work of killing people, but tries to maintain his understanding of honor and duty to his country while fighting his urges to be with Olivia. Enough muscle and man to make a girl swoon.
Just ignore me. I'll just keep sipping my red wine over here. :)