The fictional interracial and extramarital relationship between Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) on ABC’s hit TV show, “Scandal,” has elicited negative reactions from fans and critics alike. Since the two seem truly in love, the show invites you to root for their relationship to survive despite the fact that their steamy affair is immoral and could be detrimental to both their careers.

Much of the criticism of Olitz (as the couple is affectionately called) centers around the portrayal of black women on television. Kerry Washington is the first black actress to play a lead role in a primetime TV series in 38 years; it bothers critics for that role to portray a black woman engaging in a salacious, interracial affair.

Conversely, Kerry looks at the complexity of Olivia’s character as a sign of progress for the portray of black women on television. She tells Ebony Magazine in her cover story that hits newsstands on February 5th:

“In her professional life, she is so powerful and is this self-made woman…But in [Olivia’s] personal life, she is a mess and I kind of love that…I love that I get to embody all of that complexity because I also think it takes a certain level of progress for us to have a Black Woman that powerful be an emotional mess on television.”

In a way, Olivia Pope’s character conveys that black women aren’t the one-note untouchable pillar of strength that we’re often made out to be. Perhaps her emotional vulnerability and nakedness shows that we’re not a monolith and that we’re just as complex and layered as anyone else.

What do you think of Kerry Washington’s comments, Clutchettes?

  • Pseudonym

    I think this title and article completely misconstrue Washington’s comment.

    Progress is not “Olivia Pope’s emotional mess,” progress is having a powerful black female character with emotional complexities beyond playing the strong take-no-ish diva, the big-boned comic relief, the strong take-no-ish mamma, the generically emotional black woman on sitcoms (happy for new job, sad b/c broke up with boyfriend, no complexity AT ALL), or the extra black woman having lunch at a cafe.

    Seriously, must we complain about and be offended by EVERYTHING?

  • Ask_ME

    They know any mention the show Scandal is bound to bring out the black woman/white man hating trolls….so the title is purposely misleading.

  • http://gravatar.com/pinklipstick227 pinklipstick227

    Is anyone else bothered by the styling of the cover? Eww

  • http://defendingmoney.wordpress.com Marketing Gimmicks

    Shonda Rhimes and Kerry Washington represent progress and that makes me happy cause it’s a step in the right direction. It is extremely important for blactors to have a shot at being realistically human and dynamic in the roles that they portray.

    However. Kerry has also stated that Olivia Pope is the dream of what’s possible for Broomhilda and although poetic; I think that’s being a little to gratuitous with our ancestors. I am happy for Kerry and her success particularly cause she’s a brown girl and not the racially ambiguous archetype but to say that having an affair with a married white man is the dream of our former slaves is overreaching a bit. The entire show is Scandalous indeed (I’m entirely captivated) but don’t let someone’s carefully planted PR words be your bible.

    Just sayin.

  • http://gravatar.com/rockthecatbox rockthecatbox

    I see what they were going for but really don’t like the outfit. I do love the makeup and hair, though. She looks best when they do the old glamour styles on her–if they were trying to do the 60s pulp style they should have put her in something else.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    with friends like those two we don’t need enemies…

  • Cocochanel31

    Kerry has an awful stylist most of the time. not feeling this cover look at all, however, since she ( Kerry) had depth she gets a pass.

  • james

    This is pretty much a non-issue; I have enough drama in my real life, and I DON’T need to get myself emotionally involved with fictional characters. Washington is great; I loved her in ‘Django’, and ‘Scandal’ is my wife’s new favorite show! We saw the show waiting on our DISH Hopper’s PrimeTime Anytime playlist one night a few months back, so we thought we’d check it out. Even though the show is not really aimed at our demographic, it’s well-written, the acting is superb, and it provides a fresh take on the classic primetime drama. I work late at DISH usually, and the PTAT feature automatically records every primetime show from all four major networks. The DVR does the work for us, and stores all the shows on a neat nightly playlist for us to watch at the end of the day. Are there any more plans for her to act in movies soon?

  • mikey kun

    I love this cover I’m so getting this

  • Rene

    I agree that Scandal shows that black women are multilayered. We all aren’t great BFFs, magical, mystical. But she is angry becuz she can’t be with the man she loves.

  • Avery

    Why do people keep defining Olivia Pope by her relationship with Fitz?

    Her relationship with Fitz is not her defining characteristic, nor is it the entirety of her worth. By making every single damn discussion about Scandal a discussion about interracial relationships or extramarital affairs, we’re missing the damn point. This is a fierce woman; a quality reflection of modern day African–American womanhood: proud, intelligent, and determined to do what’s right (even when she fails).

    For the first time in my entire life, I can turn on network television and see someone who not only looks like me, but isn’t there because of diversity casting, isn’t there to be comic relief, the sassy best friend, the wise guardian angel or one of a dozen idiotic tropes African American’s have been forced to watch for decades. I see someone who looks like me, acts (for the most part) like me and someone that (more importantly) reflects my hopes for myself, my sister and my nieces.

    And even better, every other character on that show respects Olivia Pope (even if they hate her guts). How often does that happen? How often are black women portrayed on television or movies or music or video games or magazines or any other form of media as intelligent and powerful without immediately having that intelligence quantified, or mocked, or blatantly ignored?

    Is her relationship with Fitz hyped beyond belief? Hell yes. But, so what? This is a step forward, if gimmicky tricks have to be used to bring in viewers, so be it. Because the longer an intelligent, powerful-in-her-own-right African American woman has center stage in American media, the more likely it will be that it happens again. And again, and again.

    Also, this situation reminds me of another recent interracial relationship brouhaha : “Spock is F*ing a Black Girl

  • http://jamaicabeautyblog.wordpress.com jamaicanbeautyblog

    Scandal is a “Television DRAMA, its Fiction people, move on. Interracial coupling is not a thing. Not every program with a black woman has to be a saint and a martyr. They are showing complex characters. Would we prefer that we were not represented at all ?

  • kc

    It seems like Kerry Washington thinks her mere existence is progress for black women.

  • Bree

    Here we go again

  • p

    how is progress playing into the oversexualized jezebel sterotype, while she may be conflicted; mammy or jezebel is neither appealing esp since GOP’ers are still throwing peanuts at black camera women, and abusing mrs Obama. way to continue to propagate? further falsehoods and change an opinion of black women in America.
    as if black women can never be faithful to a marriage or have one for that matter. how is this progress? sounds like slavery to me to the only difference is she has a job and is not being forced or raped. Progress would be she’s married to the President, a black one, being his whore, or plaything is NOT. we deserve better so she doesnt speak for me thanks.

  • LolaChi

    So the author would prefer to watch the one-dimensional, mean mugging Michonne with her few lines of dialogue over Olivia Pope? Understood.

  • dee

    They’re two people deeply in love. Just leave it at that. All the rest of the garbage you bring up just doesn’t matter.

  • WhatIThink

    Can’t be shocked that a black actress is promoting non married sex or non married sex with a white male. It isn’t progress. It is the same B.S. that has gotten the black community into the not so envious position of having the majority of their children out of wedlock and the majority of the households being single parent black female households. And trust me a lot of these babies are babies from interracial relationships or marriages.

    Black women need to stop trying to follow the white woman’s manifesto on sexual liberation. It does not work for black women because the social and economic dynamic is totally different. While white women can promote sex in the city and Girls as liberating and progressive, black women can not. Why? Because white society is not plagued by an epidemic of single mothers and illegitimate children. For some reason, white women now how to handle their sexuality with responsibility, whereas black women do not. Trying to imitate white society is precisely the problem. Slutty behavior is slutty behavior whether it be male or female sluts. Upholding being slutty is not progress.

    And this is why young black females should definitely not be having entertainers as role models. Having sex with powerful white men does not make black women more powerful and the idea that it does is downright retarded. But unfortunately it is precisely the kind of mindset of many black female entertainers going back many years and it has not brought them any real power or wealth. You don’t measure power by the ability to sleep with powerful white men, because if that was the measure then Sally Hemming was one of the most powerful women in America and we know she was not.

  • Anon

    Blah Blah Blah… a few black women here and there dating out isn’t the real issue, the REAL issue is some of ya’ll are downright TERRIFIED about a critical number of black women taking their resources and walking right out of the door.

    And BTW, anyone who’s ever taught, done social work, or has two working eyes is well aware that the fathers of all of these out of wedlock children sure aren’t named Hunter, Evan, or Tyler.

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