Every week when I join fellow Gladiators to tune in to Scandal, ABC’s groundbreaking hit series created by the multi-talented award-winning writer Shonda Rhimes, I anticipate seeing fast-paced cutting edge programming about political corruption, espionage, murder, all kinds of sexual affairs and even some weird and bloody torture.
It all feels very forbidden and unpredictable which is what I think makes Scandal such great television.
And if the topics above aren’t enough to keep us guessing about the fate of Scandal’s characters, we can now add grief to the list of forbidden subjects that Scandal masterfully airs.
It is surprising to me — but welcome — that Shonda Rhimes introduced grief as a Scandal topic. I expect to see various stories dealing with grief when I watch Grey’s Anatomy (another Shonda Rhimes creation) because Grey’s is set in a hospital where life and death is a way of life.
But Scandal is sophisticated and sexy and showing a person’s grief feelings can be awkward and certainly not sexy. This season we find Cyrus, the cynical and monstrous White House chief of staff, and Mellie, the cheated upon and lonely yet manipulative First Lady, both grieving over people they have lost and loved dearly. Cyrus lost the love of his life, his husband, and Mellie, tragically has lost her precious young son.
Mellie routinely hangs out at the cemetery now, wearing pajamas and eating potato chips in the middle of a sunny day. A buttoned up Secret Service agent hands the First Lady a bag of potato chips to eat while she is sitting in the grass in front of her young son’s headstone in the cemetery. She isn’t wearing any make-up and her hair is totally undone. She closes her eyes, rests her head on the tombstone and turns her face to the sun. She could care less about what is happening in the world. She only knows that her son has died and life has stopped for her.
Wow, I thought to myself, I haven’t eaten potato chips at the cemetery but I have sat on the grass of my husband’s grave many many times. Scandal is showing what people actually do when they are in throes of grief! It is not behavior that people are comfortable with but it does not mean that people who do it are crazy. They are trying to put themselves back together. I watched in recognition and almost wanted to look away because the feelings associated with what Mellie was doing were so familiar.
Been totally there, and I know I can’t be alone in trying to find comfort, in trying to find a way to heal, by sitting and talking out loud at the cemetery.
Both Cyrus and Mellie are ripped to the core of their beings by the rawness of their grief, but it is Cyrus who quietly assesses the effect of their devastating losses: “A broken heart is a broken heart. To take a measure is cruelty.”
Please watch the insightful Scandal clip below where Mellie and Cyrus intimately talk to each other about their losses: