There are few shows on television that make me as angry as Scandal does, and it's mostly because I'm exhausted by purportedly smart people constantly doing the dumbest crap. I watch stupid stuff happen on TV all the time: law enforcement bungles investigations on The Following, teenage girls enter dark, abandoned warehouses on Pretty Little Liars, backwater fools think they can put one over on the Mother of Dragons on Game of Thrones (guys, she has friggin' dragons). For the most part, I've grown to accept those milksops and their shenanigans. But for whatever reason, the fever pitch of idiocy on Scandal has put me out.
The "white hat/black hat" theme of the show (along with the assumption that everyone actually wears a sickly gray hat) has pushed the characters around until they're all basically reprehensible. Whether they're avowed murderers, closeted murderers, proud adulterers, or just operating in a gray area of what's good for themselves and what's good for the Republic, there isn't a single character on the show who's unfazed by darkness, and their reactions to that touch of evil put them on a scale of likability, from understandable pathos to "Is there a way we can go back in time and undo Defiance?" And thus, here are Scandal's ten most reprehensible characters...
Honorable Mention: Abby Whelan/Harrison Wright
Abby and Harrison aren't even consequential to this show anymore. They might be bad people, but all of their crimes are in service to Olivia, so it's hard to really say they're terrible so much as they are drones to their particular masters. Abby used to be the convincing voice of dissent, but now she's basically just around to to convince her powerful boyfriend to do questionable things. Two seasons of Harrison getting no action, and the two times he's followed his wiener somewhere, it's gotten him into trouble. Nowadays, these two are basically just warm bodies to help fill up the conference room.
10. David Rosen
Poor, stupid David Rosen. If there is any White Hat remaining on Scandal, it's him, what with his sense of right and wrong. That being said, David's stance on justice is constantly being manipulated by a girlfriend with questionable ethics, a woman who's always wearing evening gloves and needs endless favors, and a case of the old-fashioned hush-up-or-I'll-kill-you-and-yours. He's still quippy (you can't get rid of that Josh Malina wit) and, at the very least, looks constantly pained when he knows he's doing a wrong thing. The best thing David Rosen could do for his career would be to give up the U.S. Attorney game and be a sports writer. He seems like the type who'd be good at stats.
9. Mellie Grant
We've all been holding our breath, waiting for Mellie to get hers. She's had to put up with so much during this administration, from a openly cheating husband to threats on her family's well-being to staying celibate in a "loveless" marriage. The celibacy part seems to have fallen by the wayside lately (and I'm not mad at her), but I'm tired of seeing a First Lady who seems so strong, manipulative, and cunning 80 percent of the time looking like she's misplaced her backbone when she gets caught in her schemes (or caught on her knees, depending on the situation). She backs down so quickly and so fiercely. I know her history with Fitz is complicated and that she puts up with a lot for the good of the country, but Mellie deserves more than what the Fitz administration can give her.
8. Jake Ballard
Yeah, there are seven people worse than Command. We've watched Jake shoot a secondary (okay, tertiary) character in cold blood, basically choke a woman when she messed with the wrong unchecked spy agency, and a host of other ruthless things that B613 has managed to force him to do. But we've also seen the giant heart the beats only for a Olivia, and the remorse for a man that struggles to compartmentalize the loneliness of his extraordinary work and being a human being. It's that pathos we're after that so many of these characters like to shirk. Also, it helps that Scott Foley seems to only chase roles where he's the passed-over guy in a triangle. Yes, I just made Fitz the new Ben.
7. Quinn Perkins
Quinn doesn't seem like such a bad gal. Sure, she can get too big for her britches and has a problem with being serially disillusioned, but she's just someone who wants to be loved/heard. The problem is that she's complicitly walking down this path of doom with B613 because they made her, but all she really wants is for someone to pull her out because she's drowning. She talks (and licks) a tough game, but the fact that she's constantly shaken and seems to be repulsed by Charlie's paranoid invasion means Bone-Drilling Quinn and Gladiator Intern Quinn are fighting for her soul. While they duke it out, Quinn the Human continues to make a steady stream of terrible, clumsy moves that make me wish Jake would just take her out. For the good of the Republic.
6. Sally Langston
It feels kind of wrong to put a God-fearing woman this high on the list, but she did kill someone (though she wanted to confess!) and she is willing to cave on some pretty important social issues otherwise forbidden by her dogma for the sake of the greater good. Plus, it's also very hard to have sympathy for Sally. She's stabbed wildly at the back of the man who brought her within reach of the Oval Office (even before stabbing wildly at the back of her gay husband with a letter opener). Her campaign manager has her on the ethical ropes as she fights for power. And on top of all that, she wasn't really all that complex to begin with. If Sally fell off the face of the earth, I'm not sure the Grant administration would notice, given all the other garbage they put up with during the week.
I like Huck. Honestly, I do. Although that might just be due to warm feelings from the beginning of the series, back when he was the coolest guy in the room, the greatest gladiator. Always quick to help Olivia, willing to go the extra mile, and just a sweetheart of a man. But then the licking started. And I can't take it. He swung from being a man with an addiction and trying desperately to rise above to being the creeper sitting in the dark, cool corner of the office waiting for opportunities to lick Quinn. It's gross. The writers need to swing that pendulum back to Holding-It-Together Huck before it's too late.
4. Olivia Pope
You fell in love with this show because of this woman. She was smart, decisive, and willful. She didn't back down from conflict and she didn't lose her cool when faced with a problem spiraling out of control. And then Scandal went from being a case-of-the-week to the constant crap-storm blowing in her face and we lost the Olivia we once knew. She's become the sexual plaything of the two most important men in the Republic and, while I think Jake is the lesser of two evils, both situations are poison. We've watched an adult backslide into being an adolescent, and it hurts. She blubbers about Vermont. She's surrendered her business to the service of an undeserving man. And, worst of all, she's basically unrecognizable from the woman for whom the gladiators-in-suits vowed to fight. Why would they do anything for her now? How are they even making money? Who's paying for all of this popcorn and wine?
3. Rowan Pope
Command used to be a monster that no one could wrangle. Rowan's reign saw both Huck and Jake being put in the Hole, the ultimate destruction of the Pope family, and, basically, Rowan fast-tracking Fitzgerald Grant to the presidency. If 22 years of terror wasn't enough, watching him monologue is an excruciating experience. Every conversation with Olivia becomes a theatrical performance: No scenery is left un-chewed, no fourth wall is left un-smashed by such anachronistic speeches. I miss the simple dinners. Since he's been relieved of Command, he's like a more eloquent street-corner personality that we're forced to watch not out of pity but because we made the mistake of asking him for directions. "Okay, man. I get it. You're mad. Sorry. Wow. You're still going. Okay. Watch that vein, man."
2. Cyrus Beene
He prostituted his husband to sabotage his political opponent. He helped orchestrate a betrayal of our electoral system. He wanders around scheming and scowling like some flaxen-haired ogre, living and dying by every opportunity to screw someone over. He adopted a kid to keep his husband from blurting out his secrets. Also: His beard is weird and gross. Cyrus Bean is what would happen if you appointed a Disney villain to a high-ranking government position. He is the Everyday Grinch.
1. Fitzgerald Grant
And then there was President Emo McFreeTime. I was much happier with Fitz when he was just a side-story for Olivia, the distraction that might eventually lead to a season-finale cliffhanger and not the all-consuming walking monument to petulance that dominates Scandal these days. There is a childishness in Fitz that perturbs something deep within me. The tantrum-throwing. The bald-faced lying. The double standard where he can get mad at Mellie for finally getting some action even though he's been trying to dry-hump Olivia every time she walks into the Oval. Everyone in his administration keeps discussing how he's a great man who can do great things for this country, but when will Scandal take some time away from the soap to actually work on building those traits into Fitzgerald Grant? How is he a great man? What have seen of him that he deserves the unconditional adoration of his staff and the unwavering availability, both professionally and sexually, of one Olivia Pope? This gray-templed baby does nothing but pitch fits. He's unusually cruel to Mellie. He jeopardizes everything and everyone around him for chasing tail. The Grant administration might be the worst thing to ever happen to Scandal's America. It's at a point where I think Jake might be letting Mama Pope work out that bomb deal because letting it go off at a campaign function might be the only way to save the Republic from the Grants. Exploding all of them would be sad, but it's the only way to be sure. Fitz is so worried about his poll numbers, but if he did some presidenting every once in a while instead of counting the ways to dip his wick, maybe people would consider four more years. I'm just saying. Congratulations, Fitz. You're the worst.
Who do you think is the most reprehensible character on Scandal these days?
AIRED ON 5/12/2016
Season 5 : Episode 21