ScandalABC announced Megalyn Echikunwoke and Cedric Sanders will co-star in “Influence,” a pilot centering on two polar-opposite brothers cracking cases for clients. “Influence” is slated to debut next season and will be accompanied on the primetime schedule by a NBC pilot starring Lance Gross as a secret service agent. Derek Luke has also landed a primetime gig on CBS’ “Second Sight” and Meagan Goode is still seeking the truth about her best friend’s death on NBC’s “Deception.” Clutch is dubbing the sudden diversifying of traditional broadcast television the “Scandal” effect.

The Big Three (ABC, CBS, and NBC) have notoriously blacklisted brown faces from their primetime lineups. Before Kerry Washington landed the lead role in “Scandal,” an African-American woman hadn’t starred in a network drama in more than three decades. It was an instant success.

“Scandal” has averaged more than 3 million viewers each week and tapped the elusive African-American viewing audience. Nielsen reports “Scandal” as the highest-rated drama among the black demographic, reaching 10.1 percent of our households. The groundbreaking show also dominates social media when new episodes air and have ignited academic conversations about the representation of black women in television.

ABC scored an unexpected smash with “Scandal” and broadcast networks are scrambling to emulate their formula. While this is a positive result, which Shonda Rhimes and her team should take pride in snowballing, it is also cause for minor alarm. What happens when “Scandal” ends? Interest will decline at some point as is common with television shows and the network will no longer see the advertising value of the program. A series finale will commence and if other networks haven’t landed hits as successful as “Scandal,” will there again be a void of brown faces in primetime?

The answer won’t appear until the bridge is approached, but here’s hoping “Scandal” has longevity and the Big Three continue seeing the value of diversifying primetime lineups.


  • Ask_ME

    Where did you get the 3 million number??? I read that Scandal brings in 8 to 12 million viewers each week.

  • Val

    I still haven’t seen Scandal. On some Thursdays I remember that it’s on but, I just have no interest. Everything I’ve heard about it just sounds boring and trite.

    As for the Scandal Effect; Is that never seeing a loving attractive Black couple in a romantic relationship ever again on Network TV? Lol.

  • Absurdist

    While I certainly agree with your wish for a long run, what I truly hope is that the show doesn’t overstay its welcome, either. Networks are notorious for holding on to hit shows well past their expiration dates, oftentimes to a show’s detriment, in the interest of keeping “guaranteed” advertising dollars. I think that does a disservice to the creative talent behind an affected show.

  • Absurdist

    Think of it in terms of advertising demographics; the networks do. They’re not as concerned with the total number of viewers as they are with the total viewers in a specific age range.

  • aaliyah

    There’s still many black couples on Bet and on Meagan Good’s show, her and Laz are ”on again-off again”. Other than Scandal there are not many mixed-race couples on tv and I doubt they will start pushing them just cause of the show

  • Val

    Lol. What TV are you watching? You are in the U.S., right?

  • omfg

    i’m not that invested in television to bother being hopeful.

    i watch some shows on hulu, including scandal, or when i visit my mother. that’s it.

    i don’t watch television.

  • Nancy

    People please stop talking about Scandal ending or over staying its welcome already. We are still in the middle of the second season. In please, PLEASE if don’t watch the show or television like some say, why wasting your time and ours commenting. Don’t read the article and what’s the point commenting. Leave to the Grown folks to watch in comment about since ah…we watch. Thanks , Peace

  • Child, Please

    I’m having a few problems with this statement: “Before Kerry Washington landed the lead role in “Scandal,” an African-American woman hadn’t starred in a network drama in more than three decades. It was an instant success.”

    Regina King had been in “Southland” before it was moved to TNT and had better success strangely. Whether or not she was lead, I don’t know, but I don’t like when we pretend NO African-American woman didn’t star in a drama on network television, when there had been. It’s very disrespectful to Ms. King who is pretty much a veteran, especially when it comes to TV and consistently doesn’t get her just do. Plus, are we forgetting about S. Epatha Merkerson on the Law & Order? It almost makes me wonder if the selling point for “Scandal” was this, causing folks to flock to it and also overlook the other African-American actresses on major network dramas.

    SN: Just in case you wanted to watch a few other shows with African-Americans in it, The Neighbors has a great actress, Toks Olagundoye, and the show is kind of funny! I’d also add “Revolution” on NBC stars Giancarlo Esposito and the network also has Chicago Fire with Eamonn Walker, just to name a few. I’d hardly say “Scandal” has anything to do with African-Americans starring in dramas (or even leading in dramas since it’s not the first to have a leading actress in a drama even on a major network), but it seems we could benefit from having an article or two focusing on other African-Americans on network shows so we’d get more of a sense of African Americans on television.

  • y

    You can forget about seeing an attractive black couple on network television. Every attractive black person on a network show is coupled with a white person. Somebody mentioned Meagan Goode and Laz Alonzo but her character is in love with a white man too.

  • Child, Please

    This line: I don’t like when we pretend NO African-American woman didn’t star in a drama on network television, when there had been.

    Should read: I don’t like when we pretend NO African-American woman starred in a network drama (or dramas in general, now that I think about it) when there have been.

  • justanotheropinion

    I pray, pray, pray that any new shows staring ‘us’ are of quality. It is so hard for us to be feature players on a primetime show. I am glad that they are given a chance. If the quality isn’t there, they will be cancelled in a hot minute and the powers that be will have the usual response – ‘we gave it a shot, but the actors aren’t talented enough and the audience isn’t there’. They will never cop to bad writing as being the downfall. Here’s to fingers crossed and quality writing.

  • Child, Please

    Where did my comment go?

  • seritatheresa

    I started watching scandal but like Greys and Private Practice I got bored. I still hope the show’s popularity lasts long enough to make a cast like Scandal’s “the formula”

  • mr.fierce

    same place my comment always go..comment heaven

  • Anon

    May many of yours and mine rest in peace (aka, it hit to close to home for a writer/editor and wasn’t going to stir up a flame war).

  • Poi

    What about taraji on person of interest? That is a great show! Why don’t we ever talk about it?

  • StrangerDanger

    For all of those who are lamenting other names that were left out, I’d agree with you that there were other noteworthy black faces on TV before Scandal. I think the author’s point was that they were either missing from the major networks or cast in sidekick roles.

    Also, I like scandal, don’t love, but I support it because I’d like to see more black faces on TV. That being said, I HATE FORMULAS. The “creators” always seem to mimic too specifically to create “the effect”. Why are all three of the shows mentioned about crisis management/crime solving? Why do they all have one word titles? Scandal. Deception, Influence. Somehow we always get pigeonholed into one-dimesionality. I hope they spend as much effort on content as they do trying to follow the “now” trends.

    We need more diversely cast shows with interesting and engaging storylines. Thank you Ms. Rhimes for that. Does anyone know when “I Hate LA Dudes” is going to air?

  • Emy

    I love Scandal and I wish people would stop overanalyzing it. It’s a TV show. Unfortunately, I think this obsession is what’s going to kill it.

  • Evette Dionne

    Hi. Thanks for reading. When I say a network dramas, it refers to shows on ABC, CBS or NBC. FOX became a network much later.

    Kerry was the first black woman to star in a primetime netwok drama in 38 (or 39 years). I love Regina King, but she’s a costar on her show. Olivia Pope is the lead character.

  • Fantastico

    Yes! Shows that overstay their welcome like “Friends” and “Seinfeld” keep a lot of people employed in front and behind the scenes. Then the become classics.

    So please let Scandal over stay it’s welcome. Remember it isn’t just a TV show it is and industry and an American institution.

  • Fantastico

    *They become classics
    *it is an industry

  • Child, Please

    I know you were referring to networks; the shows I listed in my post are also on network shows. the Neighbors is on ABC and Chicago Fire is on NBC ( just to clarify). I got the point of your post, but it seems we’d be more effect highlighting these shows as well rather than mentioning them and funneling them back to this one show.

  • Child, Please

    I wonder that, too! I understand we have “Scandal” fanatics, but when we praise one show over the other ones, we’re only catering to the logic that there can be only one black “it-girl” at a time, something Clutch and the commenters have bemoaned in the music industry when it comes to black women. I’d like to see more coverage of “Deception” and “Person of Interest,” but it’s likely we won’t get that anytime soon. What’s worst is I’m sure we’ll get another story on RHOH before we see another mention of either of those shows I/we just mentioned.

  • Pingback: The ‘Scandal’ Effect: Diversifying Prime-Time Television |

  • Pingback: The ‘Scandal’ Effect: Diversifying Prime-Time Television

  • Pingback: Scandals and Deceptions: Why my TV has been boosted for African-American viewership. | Stephen's Spot

Latest Stories

After Mimi Faust’s Sex Tape, Steve Harvey Tells Women to Protect Their ‘Precious Jewel’ Because ‘It Is What Every Man Is After’


10 Very Basic Tips For First Time Homebuyers


New Credit Reports to Reflect Time Series Payment Data


How To Rock A White Dress

More in diversity, Scandal
Fashion Week Less Racially Diverse Than Past Seasons

Shonda R.
Calling A Show A Guilty Pleasure Is Not A Compliment To Shonda Rhimes