Scandal Seasons 1-3 (2014)

Scandal is trash TV, but only in the most superficial sense; it’s better than almost everything else. Scandal is one of the few shows arguing some of the key questions in modern society (The Good Wife is another.) To wit: Do guns make us safer; can torture serve a higher purpose; if nobody wears the white hat, is there any point in fighting the good fight?

I’ve already written about Scadal’s audacity in burning through plot – it not only jumps the shark but keeps going back and forth over the damn thing, like, ten times each episode. Last night’s episode featured the death of a beloved character, and fans weren’t surprised. What is surprising is how much emotion the show was able to wring out of that, and how we, as observers, kept changing how we felt about the events we’d seen.

Careful viewers won’t easily come away with a definitive answer to any of the questions being posed, and that’s where Scandal’s real brilliance lies. It sneaks up on you. Everyone has a reason for what they do, and everyone is alternately “bad” and “good.” The storytelling is fast and furious, and ridiculously entertaining. Still, it doesn’t allow for complacency – those who think they know where they stand are always prodded to reconsider.

If you haven’t been watching, start from the beginning (Netflix and Hulu). The scandal-of-the-week format was largely abandoned by season 2, as the producers threw more and more balls in the air. Season 3 started very strong and hit a rough patch, but no worries now – the show is on a roll. Kerry Washington is a fabulous heroine for our times: a black female who’s also the most powerful person in the room (and having an affair with the President). It’s all 100% nonsense, and the creative team is in on the joke.