“I mean it with deep affection when I say that ‘Scandal’ is a lunatic television series that spits in the face of narrative logic and good taste,” Vulture’s Rachel Handler wrote this week, summing up perfectly, adding that the hit ABC drama “has existed as a sort of Möbius strip of plot and tension, a wine-drunk snake permanently eating its own tail.”
The Washington-based series, the fourth show in Shonda Rhimes’s television empire, came to an end on Thursday in a pretty surprising way — there was only one gruesome murder. One! That’s impressive for a show that inspires listicles such as “All the Wildest Ways ‘Scandal’ Has Killed Its Characters.” (Okay, there were two deaths in the finale, but one was self-inflicted.)
Anyway, in case you’re wondering: No, the deaths did not involve D.C. fixer Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), the star of the show. Actually, Olivia wound up just fine, despite all the trauma she suffered over the years. In one of the final scenes, she meets with Fitz (Tony Goldwyn), the former president and her longtime lover. They just say “hi” to each other, but it’s implied they live happily ever after … we think.
Then again, plot lines were never too important on “Scandal,” as the groundbreaking show gave our culture too much else to ponder. As we bid farewell to this bonkers series, here are some of the things we’ll always remember.
1) Stardom for Kerry Washington.
When “Scandal” debuted in April 2012, it was the first time in nearly four decades that an African American woman was the lead on a prime-time network show. (Diahann Carroll starred in NBC’s “Julia” in the late 1960s; a few years later, Teresa Graves was the star of ABC’s “Get Christy Love!”) Washington instantly rocketed to star status for her steely-yet-emotional portrayal of Pope and earned two Emmy nominations. In addition to becoming a fashion icon with her incredible trench coat and pantsuit collection, she could flawlessly deliver the most complicated Shonda Rhimes monologue.
2) It helped spawn a movement of live-tweeting TV shows.
Around the time when TV execs were panicking they could never get viewers to watch live TV again, “Scandal” became a prime example of appointment viewing, thanks to social media. The entire cast would join fans to live-tweet the episodes, which boosted viewers and led to hundreds of thousands of tweets. Twitter executives said they started hearing from other networks asking, “How can we do what ‘Scandal’ did?”
3) It was a D.C. show people actually enjoyed.
Washington was the setting for some cringeworthy reality shows around 2010: “The Real Housewives of D.C.,” “The Real World: D.C.,” “Top Chef: D.C.,” “D.C. Cupcakes.”
Then “Scandal” arrived in 2012, and, suddenly, Washington redeemed itself.
4) Stardom for Judy Smith.
Let us not forget Smith, a real-life D.C. crisis management expert who worked with clients from Monica Lewinsky to Michael Vick, and was the inspiration for Olivia Pope. She has many projects in the works in Hollywood, but, of course, she tweeted along with the final episode.
5) Joe Morton’s monologue skills.
Morton won an Emmy in 2014 for playing Olivia’s, shall we say, complicated father. His most memorable moment was this famous, scathing monologue delivered at his daughter in the third-season premiere, when he told her, “You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have.”
6) The Olivia and Fitz (“Olitz”) situation.
Part of Olivia’s dad’s rage was about her sleeping with the president of the United States. Indeed, the Olivia + President Fitz = torturous love story line (and their never-ending quest to escape to Vermont and make jam) dragged on for years and enraged many, but it also had quite a few fans.
7) Confirmation that wine and popcorn is an acceptable dinner.
Olivia Pope ate this almost every night and turned out just fine, okay?!
We’ll give it to Bellamy Young — we would have never guessed that eventually, she would transform Mellie into the president of the United States after serving as first lady. After all she put up with surrounding Olivia and her husband, Fitz, she kind of deserves all the power.
9) All the times “Scandal” spilled over into real life.
A few highlights: Those “Scandal” stars really loved the White House correspondents’ dinner, and politicians loved them (see below). Then, there was the time that “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” Halloween special ended and “Scandal” immediately started with a steamy sex scene, and parents were furious. Also, “Saturday Night Live” once featured a hilarious parody starring Lena Dunham in 2014.
10) A lot of phrases we’ll never be able to erase from our minds.
“It’s handled.” “Gladiators in suits.” “White hats.” “B613.” If you ever saw an episode, you get it.