Scandal, Season 1 | A Breakdown

When Shonda Rhimes launched Scandal, I had promised myself that I wouldn’t get sucked in. Not because the premise of the show didn’t seem promising, it did. Not because I wasn’t impressed by the casting, I was. It was because of my love-hate relationship with Shonda Rhimes (one which mostly airs on the side of hate).

But of course, in light of Kerry Washington’s recent SAG and Golden Globe nominations, and the mountain of praise the show has received since its pilot, my curiosity got the best of me. Now here I am, one season deep and completely hooked.

|| PLOT ||

I have always been a fan of the “case of the week”, procedural type structure of television shows. Suits was at its best in its first two seasons with that style; CSI, Without a Trace, and Cold Case were some of my biggest guilty pleasures for years. Even Supernatural, one of my all time favourite shows, favoured a “monster-of-the-week” structure that I enjoyed most. I appreciate the need for an over-arching story, one with breadth, but there is something monumentally entertaining about seeing a different crisis week after week. Can it get stale? Of course. But Scandal is handling it masterfully.

The overarching plot points that they do have – Olivia’s affair with the president, James and Cyrus’ relationship, the mystery of Quinn Perkins – are all compelling and believable enough to continue through the weeks. The true strength in these plots, however, is that they’re not in the forefront in every episode. They are the inner workings, the context for the story each week. That is what keeps me coming back for more and more episodes.

|| CHARACTERS ||

Characters are always what makes me fall in love with a program the fastest. Interesting, compelling, flawed characters. Add in a strong female lead and I’m sold. Scandal has all of these components.

First, Olivia Pope. She is the kind of role model that young girls should have (minus maybe the ‘having an affair with the President’ part). She is competent, she is good at her job, she is in command and doesn’t cower to threats or intimidation or condescension. She is the one that people (especially men in power) go to to fix their problems. It is an incredible thing to watch.

Her team, the people who would follow her over a cliff, they are quirky and interesting and they all have sorted pasts. They are a merry band of misfits that Olivia has taken in to make them whole, to fix them. Steven, Harrison, Abby, Huck, and finally, and possibly most important to the mythology of the story, Quinn. They all have their own baggage, but they come together to follow a common leader. They put their trust and faith into Olivia, and consistently reinforce their dedication and commitment to her.

The White House is, of course, chock full of corrupt staff members with questionable morals, poisonous ambition and more lies than can be kept straight. Cyrus, the sometimes-moral Chief of Staff; Mellie, the ambitious, driven First Lady; Billy Chambers, the boy-next-door government employee turned smarmy adversary; and of course, Fitz, the moral compass of the administration, the Golden Boy, the President of the United States.

It’s quite an assortment of characters, some more fleshed out and complex than others, but since the first season only had seven episodes, I look forward to more character development in episodes to come.

|| RELATIONSHIPS ||

I knew going into the series that Olivia was having an affair with the President, and I was sure that that relationship wouldn’t be one that I would enjoy due to, y’know, the nature of their relationship. In that it was an affair. And even though I don’t condone cheating in the least, I found myself rooting for Olivia and Fitz. It is a testament to the acting, and to the writing that I found myself rooting for their relationship. Not because I hate Mellie, which so many fans online seem to, I don’t particularly like her, but I don’t hate her. She is ambitious and dogged and goes about things in the wrong way but she does love Fitz and wants her to succeed. I root for Fitz and Olivia because of the way Tony Goldwyn flawlessly plays the scenes with the two of them. You can see every ounce of love for her on his face. Goldwyn and Kerry Washington have crazy amounts of chemistry that flies of the screen and makes you cheer them on.

|| FLAWS ||

There aren’t many flaws in this show, and I haven’t found anything glaring, but there are a few things that have been nagging at me.

1. If Fitz and Mellie have two children, why haven’t we seen them at all?

2. How is everyone just totally okay that Mellie basically trapped Fitz into having another child with her? Couldn’t she have just said it was her on the recording and left it at that? Why did there need to be a baby?

3. What exactly made Olivia take in all of the misfits to “fix” them. Did she and Abby know each other before? How did she hear about Harrison or find Huck? What is Steven’s baggage – other than being a philanderer?

|| WHY YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING IT ||  

Strong female characters, gay characters whose homosexuality doesn’t define them, intriguing drama, cohesive plots and two leads with chemistry coming out of their ears.

Do yourself a favour and get in on the conversation!

Advertisements

the bookstore by deborah meyler [book review]

I hated this book. I’m not usually one to be that blunt, but with a novel this horrible, there isn’t much point beating around the bush.

There was not a single character that I found compelling or interesting, or even likeable. While I don’t make judgments on a novel based on whether or not I like a character, the characters do have to be somewhat sympathetic or go through character development. No character in this novel went through any character development whatsoever.

The supposedly “quirky” characters at the bookstore did absolutely nothing for me. While the back cover of the novel promised interesting and colourful customers and employees of the store, what the reader was presented with were customers who homeless, gritty and going through hardened times. The employees were so bland, with names so similar to each other and personalities so unremarkable that I found myself melding them together in my mind into one amorphous blob.

I found the main character, Esme, to be unbelievably naive, pretentious and most of the time, completely ridiculous. While I respected her decision to have the baby and raise it on her own, I immediately lost all respect when she ran straight into the arms of her horrific beau, Mitchell.

The majority of my time spent reading was merely a waiting game to see when Mitchell would inevitably turn on Esme. It was predictable, and yet, done so poorly. One minute, Mitchell is opening up to Esme, telling her his “deep dark secrets” and a couple of pages later he’s telling her the “spell has worn off”. It was so predictable and yet the dialogue was so ridiculous that I found myself laughing. Mitchell had such potential to be a viable villain or adversary but he was written so dreadfully that I found it implausible.

The writing style did absolutely nothing for me. The dialogue seemed false. Everything was said very formally, not conversationally at all. And it seemed so forced that it pulled me out of the story whenever anyone spoke. The only bright spot of the writing was the descriptions of New York – the streets, the stores, the city covered in snow. It romanticized it, and I ate that up. There’s no city I love more than Vancouver, but New York comes very close.

Other than those descriptions, the exposition was wishy-washy. Mostly because I disliked Esme so viscerally that any time spent in her head was unpleasant.

I had such high hopes for this novel when I picked it off the shelf, the back cover sounded right up my alley, but I ended up hating it more than I’ve hated any novel in years.

I very nearly put it down multiple times to stop reading it, but I ended up pushing through. I almost wish I hadn’t.

I would not recommend it to anyone. Save yourself and pick something else up!

The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler | Book Review

An Introduction

After spending some time writing and discovering on tumblr, I have decided to carve out a little corner of the world in the blogosphere. A place to talk about books, television, music, University life, and adulthood.

Since I’m changing platforms, I will be transferring over some of my old writing to my new blog, it won’t chronologically make sense but it’ll be much better for my sanity.

Check out my ‘About’ page for more information on me!