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Olivia Pope and President Fitzgerald Grant, fictional characters on the TV show “Scandal,” have one of the most popular star-crossed relationships on TV. Whether it’s the interracial angle or the fact that Grant is a sitting president in love with someone other than his wife or the steamy sex scenes that just flirt the line between network and cable, we’re not sure. What we are sure of is that Black female viewers have fully embraced Pope, (played by Kerry Washington) and Fitz (played by Tony Goldwyn) as the TV couple to watch.

But why? Can these be the same Black women who chastised Alicia Keys and Fantasia for dating/sleeping with married men? Are these the same women who think infidelity is wrong in real life but okay in the context of the alternate universe of TV land? Well, maybe. But it could be because President Grant is white. Surprisingly enough, when Fitz’ main rival (at first) came along, he was a worthy candidate. Edison Davis, Olivia’s other love interest and former fiancée was a senator, a tall and good-looking Black man who was nonetheless deemed “boring” and “Cosby-esque” by “Scandal” viewers. Huh? A good-looking, educated Black man with a good job with good benefits, a job with the potential to last for years and possibly advance to the highest office in the land doesn’t get the win? How, exactly, does that work?

Maybe it’s because, as the Internet would have you believe, Black women can’t wait for a fabulous white man with good credit and good looks to come along and knock them off their feet. Many an Internet battle has been waged about the relative merits of dating white men as opposed to Black ones. Perhaps Fitz’s willingness to risk his marriage and his job to be with his Black mistress simply fulfills that fantasy desire for some Black women. It doesn’t hurt that actor Tony Goldwyn, the boyish preppie villain from “Ghost,” has aged into a good-looking, 50-something who doesn’t have to feel ashamed by shirtless scenes. Or maybe it’s because any woman can appreciate a man who, when his first opportunity arises to make love to the woman he desires, he simply says “Take off your clothes.” Yes, fellas, we like it like that sometimes.

But what if Fitz were Black? Kerry Washington has gone on record as saying she wouldn’t have played the part of Olivia if the president had been African-American. She told just recently that due to her work with the White House in real life, she didn’t want there to be any misinterpretation. (As it is, Judy Smith, the real-life Olivia Pope, has to regularly fend off rumors of a presidential affair .) Though this didn’t stop “24” from casting Black actress Penny Johnson Jerald as a diabolical First Lady to Dennis Haybert’s black president, Haysbert played his role well before Obama was elected. And although it seems ridiculous for people to think a fictional show would reflect poorly on a sitting president in real life, we’ve already seen how far people’s imaginations can stretch when it comes to President Obama.

Casting Fitz as a philandering Black president who has an election stolen for him and who resorts to murder to cover it up once he finds out, might have had people thinking “Scandal” creator Shonda Rhimes and Smith were in possession of some insider information. Yes, people are that stupid; it has been said that ABC cancelled “Commander in Chief,” starring Geena Davis as the first female president because people thought it somehow influenced Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Given the stereotypes that already exist about Black men, and the fact that Obama’s happy marriage has refuted them, having Fitz be black would have just distracted people from the show and it’s real theme which is the everyday shadiness in Washington. That Fitz, white or Black, has been portrayed as a world leader with a huge swath of humanity and vulnerability is a character choice any one familiar with Rhimes’ work on “Grey’s Anatomy” is already comfortable with. Rhimes and her writers create complex characters that people root for even when they make dumb decisions. Olivia Pope can fix everything but her own messy personal life and that’s kind of the point. If the president was Black, that would just turn into more of the “Why black people always gotta be……” talk that goes on already, but to a lesser degree. A Black Fitz is a man bringing down his family. A white one is a man willing to risk it all for true love. Let’s keep it real – that’s a storyline that some of us find much easier to take.

The Stars Behind ‘Scandal’
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11 thoughts on “Would It Be “Scandalous” if Fitz Was Black?

  1. Linda on said:

    So, black women are that shallow that they’ll accept adultery from a black man but not white? This article is ludicrous! Even if Fitz left his wife, Olivia will always be known as the homewrecking mistress, i.e, Camilla Parker Bowles.

  2. Here is my speculation on the whole thing. Yes it would be a scandal if the president were black… I mean HELLO we’ve only got one of those in the history books as of now and if it came out that he was having an affair while in office all the old stereotypes against the black community will come up with snarky underhanded comments such as “See I knew he was like the rest of them” may start popping up. What i think is progressive here is that going on stereotypes… its uncommon to see a professional white male really truly and honestly love a professional black female. We all agree it has probably happened somewhere, but not out in the open. And we know this version of the interracial coupling happens in the real world but there’s still quite a stigma on black women (professional or not) That we’re all ghetto underneath somewhere and rarely as “clean cut” black men can get. But thats another post altogether… oh and I didn’t finish the article. I thought the headline alone was just stupid.

  3. Roderick on said:

    A few weeks ago, I read an article by Bishop Jakes about the immorality of homosexuals based on what the bible said. He said that he would not be doing his job if he didn’t speak out against it. Many of his supporters agreed with him that gays were damned because of their sin of being gay. I wonder what the Bishop thinks about the message that the television show, “Scandal,” is saying. Isn’t adultery and fornication also sins that would bring death to those that practice it??? I wonder how many Black female Christians watch that show religiously?

  4. Roderick on said:

    I’m sure that Black women are ecstatic about this coupling. I wonder if a movie about the late Sen. Strum Thurmond’s “relationship” with his family’s maid and resulting in his biracial daughter, all the while proclaiming segregation, would be as interesting to Black women today?

  5. I’m also so over this ridiculous conversation. In addition, I don’t want to hear any more fool talk about Mr. Goldwyns’s personal life. His personal life is nobody’s dam business. Some people need to, “get and life” and stop living vicariously through these people’s lives.

  6. JRoc85 on said:

    Race has nothing to do with it!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s called Scandal because of the numerous scandalous topics that happen on the show week after week. Fitz is the president whose married to a woman HE IS NOT in love with!!!!! Olivia Pope is a campaign & problem fixer who was hired to repair Fitz campaign during his initial presidential run (which is how he & Olivia fell in love)!!!!!!!!! Point, Blank, Period!!! BTW, it’s an AMAZING & WELL WRITTEN SHOW!

  7. Deena Braun on said:

    No more discussions over this issue please. We LOVE Fitz, black/white/green with orange poka dots — doesn’t matter. TG has the charisma and talent to play role of the president and he does so to the hilt. So let’s forget this black vs white stuff.

  8. Tami on said:

    I’m so over this discussion. It’s ridiculous. It’s a good show and I am glad that they writers and that the minorities female and male are making money in Hollywood.

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