I believe the entire Sally Hemmings/Thomas Jefferson association is ahistorical and false equalization. I’ve heard bloggers make this analogy before and I find it very lazy and superficial. Thus, I was annoyed to hear “Olivia” allude to this in Season 2 Episode 8.
However, I continued to watch (like I would stop) and watched the genius of Shonda Rhimes and the Scandal’s writers reveal itself. I like how after “Olivia” and “Fitz’s” conversation in The Rose Garden, it became truly clear that NO, their relationship is not like that at all, but yet it is still so deeply problematic as well as unbelievably passionate. This is important. Their relationship CAN be dysfunctional WITHOUT it resorting to the idea that today, any Black woman with a White man is a sexual slave and property. Their relationship stinks because they are so in love yet are not available for each other. Their careers cause a problem. He is a married man. She is not getting a full relationship that they desire and she deserves. But sexual property? False. (If anything was “service like,” it was “Olivia” getting “Mellie” something to wear for her press conference. I did not like that. Then again, the space of being in the closet gave her time to cry…which is not the first time that she has gone to a closet to cry about “Fitz.” Remember the very first episode when she helped coach “Stephen” to propose to his girlfriend and she was in the coat closet area at the restaurant?)
I think this whole analogy was added because so many people need to see their relationship that way, and Shonda and the writers needed to reveal how it is NOT that, BUT still has its own problems. Despite the problems, there is an allure in their relationship for many viewers, including me. I think sometimes we compartmentalize the emotion/chemistry (which theirs is damn near enigmatic and surreal) away from the actual problematic nature of the relationship. (It doesn’t mean that I, myself, would have a relationship like this in real life, ALTHOUGH I have had that kind of almost psychotic-feeling chemistry with someone before, and it does drive you mad when they have it in return. However, the power differential didn’t exist for me as it does for “Olivia” and “Fitz” [nor was he married, but being single does not equate to this will work].) I believe the power differential and race are why people associate this with Jefferson, but the association doesn’t work for me. (Click here if you need a reminder of who Jefferson truly was.)
I think them viewing the actual copy of The Constitution itself was supposed to reveal how SURE, race is most certainly a part of their existences and contributes to their experiences in that relationship, but I don’t think anyone can actually pinpoint the problems of their specific relationship being specifically dictated by race. At the same time, “Fitz” saying “We the people is just…everything” reveals White privilege of the most high. We know that when The Constitution was written, we were not the people. At the same time, like Nikki Giovanni alluded to in her book Racism 101, the reality not meeting up to the ideal of this doesn’t mean that the ideal is corrupt. The ideal of WE being the PEOPLE would have been a beautiful reality if we actually were the people. Then. And now.
When ”Olivia” said “It’s a new world,” while they were viewing The Constitution, it made me think about her and “Fitz” specifically. When that document was written, the likelihood of their love being a love by choice would have been non-existent, despite the LIES people try to imply about White men and Black women’s relationships during slavery. Yet, there they stood at the time (in the episode, as it was a flashback) choosing to love each other, as problematic as it is, though it is not necessarily problematic because of their racial identities alone. That makes it a new world. Indeed.
My other thoughts include:
Damn! Bellamy Young (“Mellie”) can act. She will be needing a Supporting Actress In A Drama Series Emmy to accompany the Lead Actress In A Drama Series that Kerry Washington deserves. (My guy picks are “Cyrus” and “Huck.” [Then again, “Harrison,” my boo, who wants to know “what do you need?” might need one.] Plus, the sound, lighting, picture and makeup categories need some Emmys too. Just sayin’.) When ”Mellie” said “Don’t sit down next to me like we are friends” I had to root for her over “Olivia” just this one time. Finally some truth from “Mellie” that has not happened since she cursed “Olivia” out for breaking “Fitz’s” heart and supposedly “driving” him to have an affair with “Amanda” from Season 1. I am still team “Olivia” all day though. All…day.
I thought it was brilliant to move backwards. It provided much more context to “Olivia” and “Fitz;” context that was needed to reveal why moving on (well…so to speak…she has not moved on emotionally) to “Edison” was challenging for her; among other things.
Interesting that the “Quinn” issue has finally been cleared up, without much fanfare if you think about it. No, she did not kill those people. “Hollis Doyle” (southern accent crazy dude) did.
I love “Cyrus.” I know that he is genuinely awful, but moral relativism is the core of this show. All of the people that we like are not “good” people, per se. That’s the point. They are people who do “good” or “bad” things depending on who’s viewing and judging those things. Because…how he wrote off the deaths in the Cytron explosion that “Doyle” caused as “patriotism?” Truly awful.
“Huck” shot “Fitz?” I am dying to see what happens next. I hope there is some sense to this because he better not have betrayed “Olivia” after all she’s done for him.
Anyway, I love this show. I warned my new subscribers that I will probably talk about this show too much, but if you are going to read Gradient Lair, you must deal! *snickers*