Written by Michael Arceneaux (@youngsinick)
Given Kerry Washington’s reveal that former President Bill Clinton is a “gladiator,” I imagine last night’s episode of Scandal was a wee bit uncomfortable for him to watch. In my mind, Hillary Clinton sat beside Bill in bed and downed whiskey, taking small breaks to emphatically slam her hand down on the nightstand and shout at Slick Willie, who was probably cowering in a glass of cabernet: “The things you presidents put us First Ladies through!” I’m sure he whispered sweet nothings about 2016 in return.
“Everything Coming Up Mellie” was a lot even by this show’s standards. In a single episode we saw rape, murder, betrayal, a person rising from the dead and a potential discrepancy in paternity. Still, what I care most about from last night was its focus: Mellie (Mel).
Bellamy Young, who plays First Lady Mellie Fitz, has been making the media rounds all week. In an interview with Wendy Williams, Young revealed that Mellie was initially planned to be a bit character who wouldn't last more than a few episodes. Thankfully, Shonda Rhimes had a change of heart and offered Young—who has been nothing but sweet and southern in every interview I’ve watched—the chance to show off her acting chops and not so subtly take shots at the harsh ways we often treat political spouses.
Last night Mellie agreed to a media profile that primarily centered on her playing the role of “polite” and particularly docile wife in the wake of declining approval ratings. As a rather hostile interviewer explains to her, the public is upset with her over an affair that didn’t involve her. They questioned her judgment, her emotional stability, and her sanity. If that wasn’t offensive enough, as she once again went against her core for the sake of helping keep her man in power, Fitz couldn’t be bothered to help her help him.
Complaining to Cyrus, Mellie laments, “I am doing this whole Vanna White routine for him so that he has a shot at recollection. He needs to at least meet me half way.”
Ultimately going to the source, Mellie explains to Fitz, “You don’t have to love me. But we are in this hell together and the flames are burning both of us with equal intensity baby so the least you could is be my friend. The least you could is show up. Show up for me. Show up for me, Fitz.”
That got him to show up, but Fitz still doesn’t realize all of her sacrifices. This includes being raped by her father-in-law and subsequently using that as a means of coercing him to stop berating her husband and soiling the start of his California gubernatorial campaign. I already had sympathy for Mellie, who was once a partner at a law firm, for giving up her career in an effort to boost Fitz's political profile. I can’t help but feel even worse for her now knowing the secrets she’s been carrying with her for all this time.
I often see Mellie categorized as a bitch on my social media feeds. There’s this idea among a few that she’s so frigid and vile, no wonder Fitz’s penis traveled elsewhere for warmth. And that’s as sexist as it is stupid.
Funny enough, episode seven begins with Olivia answering a call from Fitz. They’re having one of their typical, “I thought I knew everything about you, even though our relationship has been seasoned with secrecy and deep fried in lies this entire time.” Olivia’s disappointed with Fitz over the role he played in shooting down the plane that carried her mother. She cries out, “I thought I knew everything about you.”
Well, don’t you know enough already, Olivia? You’ve known that despite all of his wife’s sacrifices, Fitz finds it fairly easy to not only cheat on her, but vilify her in the process. Would it take Olivia finding out about Mellie’s rape to get her to finally realize that Fitz is no good for anyone besides Fitz and a top-earning therapist? Probably not, but at this point she deserves every teardrop that falls from her face.
Only a week ago were we being fed the idea that without Olivia Pope, Fitz would’ve never been processed. Sure, Olivia was a wonderful campaign manager and co-conspiracy, but without Mellie literally sacrificing her own body to the cause, Fitz would have ended up being known as the handsome guy on Fox & Friends.
That is why Mellie is the way that she is. She gave up everything and it takes drunken speeches to get her husband to do the bare minimum, i.e. be her friend. If you don’t like or at least have more sympathy for Mellie after last night, you have no soul and kick puppies for sport.
Feel free to hate Quinn, though. Seriously, if you’ve already been framed for murder before shouldn’t you be a little more skeptical when someone hands you a syringe and tells you to stick it into an unsuspecting security guard? She’s a ditz and I can’t stand her. I imagine I’ll despise her even more now that she’s effectively owned by B316.
Almost as annoying is Cyrus’ husband James Novack. You got fired, but dude, you’re a well-connected softball interviewer—you’ll be hired again in no time.
And of course, I can’t leave out Olivia Pope’s mama being alive, and apparently, locked in a dungeon for two decades. Shonda, I don’t even have words for this, just three letters: W, T, and F.
Until next time. Take care of yourselves…and each other.