In a piece about the success of ABC’s hit show Scandal — it ranks first in its Thursday, 10p.m. time slot — the New York Times dares suggest the Shonda Rhimes creation might be popular because its "postracial," "cast members are ethnically diverse but are not defined by their race or ethnicity."
The reporter is presumably referring to how the show’s interracial relationship is scarcely mentioned. Black actress Kerry Washington plays Washington, D.C. scandal "fixer" Olivia Pope, a former White House employee who left the Administration following a long romance with the president, President Fitz Grand, played by Tony Goldwyn, who is white. The Times quotes black feminist author Joan Morgan, who said, “It’s not about this being a black show. It’s about seeing the show where black women and other women are represented less about race and more about who they are.”
That’s true, in a sense. But "postracial" is always such a squicky term because it suggests on some level that we’re past the point where race matters — which, of course, is naive. And simply not true: Pope’s character may not be defined on the show by her race or ethnicity, but the very fact Scandal is such a hit with African-Americans suggests its a huge draw for the program. The Times reports that over 10 percent of black households tune in for Scandal. Even if the show is breaking racial barriers by not addressing race directly — perhaps because it doesn’t have to — it is still meaningful that Oliva Pope is black.
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