Strength of ‘Scandal’ lies in its gladiators

Is there really such a thing as appointment television today?

Everyone is so occupied with their form of “busy” – work, family, or making it seem like they are busy to keep up with everyone else. There is also the competition from other forms of media. Netflix and Hulu don’t tell you when you have to be in front of the screen to watch something.

It takes more than a show to make it worth clearing a half hour or an hour of your schedule.

It’s mostly about the real-life cast you watch it with.

During Sex and the City’s run, three of my friends would come to my house and we would watch the four fictional ladies date across New York. It was the one time during the week we knew we would be together. An unbreakable date for the duration of the season.

After the SATC finale in 2004, there was a void in appointment-TV-with-the-girls. Especially since two of those friends moved to other states.

There also wasn’t a show that could fill Carrie’s Manolo Blahnik’s.

In April 2012, Scandal’s pilot aired. I didn’t get on board until Season Three which started in October 2013 after I spent the summer binge-watching Seasons One and Two.

It wasn’t yet appointment television. Not until I got to know Sandy.

My husband, Tom, works and is involved in area politics. I do not have the passion for politics he does, but we are both mutually supportive of our respective careers. However, there are certain events I will make a guest appearances. It was at one of them I met Sandy, who is involved in local Upper Merion committees with Tom and retired from a career in publishing and non-profits.

30740211_10155109212511626_2928108982138568704_nSandy has a delightful sense of humor, a love of fashion, wine and good food so her and I became fast friends.

She’s also a “gladiator.”

In Scandal, the term is used to describe a member of Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and Associates. It’s a person in the middle of the action, fighting the good fight. Fans of the show often refer to themselves as “gladiators” or “gladiators in suits.” Sandy and I don’t go around calling each other gladiators or referring to the “white hat,” that symbolizes the “good guys.” We’re in it for the high drama, the powerful woman lead, and the handsome men.    However, none is more adorable than Sandy and her husband, Barry’s, Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Bear. Bear, a rescue, is smarter than many of the characters who have tried to cross Pope. When he hears my car door close and the beep of the alarm, he runs to the door to greet me. On the rare Thursday’s I wasn’t able to make it, he heard the familiar sounds of Scandal and saw Sandy in her chair, “but no Katie.”

“Bear is looking for you,” Sandy texted me, causing my heart to both melt and break at the same time.

I only wish I could get Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) to follow me around like Bear tails Sandy. I have a crush on the devastatingly handsome Fitz while Sandy prefers Olivia’s other wannabe-but-not-Fitz-suitor Jake Ballard (Scott Foley).

Love triangles are just one part of the show’s creator Shonda Rhimes twisty world where cliffhangers happen every episode, not just for season finales. Of course, some would say things got a bit beyond the realm of possibility. It started a regular refrain from Sandy during Season 6.

“Is this the last season?”

It wasn’t because she was tired of me showing up on her doorstep every Thursday night. We actually started planning post-Scandal finale plans.

Aliens could have abducted Olivia and Fitz could have nuked the moon to get her back and we still would have watched (with snarky commentary).

The sight of a woman handling things on television, before Olivia Pope was rare. It was also groundbreaking. Scandal is the first show in 37 years that featured an African American woman in a network drama series. Pope used her wits and employed other women with a skill-set that complimented her own to get things done. You wanted to be as smart and confident as Pope, despite her flaws.

But when it came to appointment television on Thursday night, Olivia Pope wasn’t the woman I admired most.

It’s Sandy.

Her unending kindness, contagious smile, commitment to family and friends along with her own fierce strength aren’t fictional. They are qualities that everyone who has the pleasure of knowing her admires.

“Our” show might be over, but the friendship, like a gladiator, is just getting stronger.