Scandal in the West Wing

I love American politics. The fictional kind more than the ‘real’ kind, but I have been known to watch Presidential election day coverage avidly and Washington DC is my favourite city in the whole world.

Several years ago I discovered a television programme called “The West Wing.” One of my favourite characters was CJ Cregg who was the Press Secretary. I didn’t just want to be like her, I wanted to BE her. She had the coolest job and some of the best lines. Secretly I wanted to be a tall, thin actress too, but that was never going to happen. Then I saw the actress who played her, Alison Janney, accept an Emmy award and I realised that the person who created my wonderful press secretary was not Alison Janney, but Aaron Sorkin. The joy of ‘The West Wing’ was in the writing, the snappy dialogue, the dilemmas that the characters went through and the bonds they had. I was in awe of that man’s talent. I still am.

I never thought I would find a programme as well written and acted. Some came close and when they finished I missed them. But then I found ‘Scandal’. It is the ‘baby’ of Shona Rhimes, the genius behind ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, a writer of considerable talent when it comes to writing about complex human relationships and how people express their feelings.

The relationship been Olivia Pope and President Grant was revealed slowly and cleverly and the burn was intense. The dialogue is so clever and delivered so well, sometimes it takes my breath away. And the chemistry between Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn is of the kind you can’t manufacture on a set. She is a master at facial expressions, he has consummate timing. And my God, if he were President, I’d move there so I could vote for him. The character is that oh so rare beast, a liberal, intelligent Republican. I don’t care that he’s murdered and cheated and done other nasty things, he is Kennedy-like in his Presidential presence.

The other characters are good, Cyrus is just what every President doesn’t need but must have and then there is the sheer genius of Huck – writing and acting perfection.

We are a little behind the US and when TV2 didn’t schedule it for a week, I thought they’d pulled it so I made a comment on their Facebook page. One of my friends responded by giving me a link to where I could watch it streamed on my computer. So, now I have watched all of Series Two and am starting Series Three. It is like a very special treat that I want to ration so it will last longer, but I can’t help myself. It is my escape from grief and car crashes and loneliness and the uncertainty of my world. I know I am destined to own the DvD box set and watch however many series they make, every year just to remember and to inspire me. Thank you so much, Shona and the rest of you.

shona Rhimes


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