‘Scandal’ Premiere: Kerry Washington is a ‘Gladiator in a Suit’

Last night was the premiere of Scandal, the new ABC program about a D.C. crisis expert based on Judy Smith (left), a real D.C. crisis consultant.

On the show, which was created by Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice), Kerry Washington plays the very tough head of a crisis firm that specializes in high-profile problems. In real life, Smith has worked with Michael Vick and Monica Lewinsky, among others. On the show, Washington’s Olivia Pope had to manage a decorated war hero with a big secret and a President (as in the President of the United States) trying to keep allegations of an affair under wraps. But things aren’t what Pope thought they were! Scandalous!

Here’s an EW wrap up of the episode, with spoilers, in case you’re interested. The Washington Post also has coverage of the show, taken from the D.C. POV where the reporter attended one of the advanced screenings. (There were 10 of them in the D.C. area.) The article also notes the fact that the show’s main character is a strong, African-American woman, a side of the story that’s also taken up by The Grio in an interesting story about Black women in Hollywood.

But back to the show. We watched the premiere and it took a minute to get into it, mostly because the characters talk lightning fast. It’s as though a mark of their slick style of PR professionalism is the ability to cram as many words as possible into a single breath. And certainly, as the WaPo article notes, this is a TV show, so the drama is dialed up a few notches.

And then there are the catchphrases. These guys are “gladiators in a suit.” And after delivering a scathing monologue in which Washington’s Pope tells the President’s alleged mistress that she needs to pack up and move to a small city because she’s “done” in D.C., she struts away, whips out her phone, and says two words before hanging up: “It’s handled.” Twitter lit up on that one.

So we’ll be tuning in next week to see what other tantalizing drama the show has in store. If crisis comms in D.C. is anything at all like this, oh wow.

[Top image: Jonathan Newton, Washington Post. Bottom image: Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope]

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