P R E S E R V E D: Scandalized: The Gospel according to Olivia Pope revisited

April 18, 2018 in Religion

By Shewanda Riley
Columnist

RileyA few years ago, I wrote about the success of Scandal which was then one of the most popular and intriguing shows on network television. It was one of the hit television show from Shonda Rimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy and one of the few African-American female producers in Hollywood.

As the television show ends its groundbreaking run on ABC this season, I’d like to revisit what I wrote. Some may have grown weary of the “crazy-twisty” drama of the show (for example, the on again off again relationship between Olivia and Pres. Fitz Grant) but the show’s treatment of the ethics of truth will be one of the things that it will be best remembered for.

Inspired by real life crisis management expert Judy Smith, the show was full of intriguing political and personal relationships. However, despite the positive reviews and high ratings, not everyone liked the show. Some believed the show was an unsavory mixture of lies and betrayal that glorified deception. In other words, it often showed the worst of human behavior. True enough, there were love triangles, extra marital affairs and lots of lies.

What was at the heart of the show wasn’t the graphic love scenes or even the multiple layers of deceit. The heart of the show was how the characters responded to challenging and stressful situations.

In some instances, the fictionalized story lines were seen as contemporary examples of the importance of telling the truth, forgiveness and honoring commitment.

Olivia Pope was played with a complex mix of passion and vulnerability by Kerry Washington. When dealing with her clients, Olivia always encouraged and, in some cases, demanded they tell her the truth about whatever unfortunate situation they are in. If they hesitated, she made it clear that she could not help them if they did not tell her the truth.

Despite her many failings, as the show’s last few episodes illustrated, Olivia returned to this ideal of the importance of telling the truth.
Interestingly, one of the most repeated lines from the show was “It’s a dirty little secret and dirty little secrets always come out.”

Olivia’s insistence on the truth was similar to Jesus reminding us in John 8:32 that the “truth will make us free.” Once her clients were set free from the bondage that resulted from their lies, Olivia then developed a usually successful strategy of how to best deal with the situation.

Ironically, the show also showed how Olivia’s “dirty little secrets” negatively impacted her life.

Is there a biblical truth here?

Luke 8:17 says, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” In other words, no matter how well you think you may have hidden something or how good the lie, the truth will eventually come out.

Shewanda Riley is a Dallas, Texas based author of “Love Hangover: Moving From Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends.” Email her at preservedbypurpose@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.