i'm going to admit to a weakness for the shows of shonda rhimes. i haven't tried gray's anatomy, but i am uptodate more or less with scandal and how to get away with murder. she has a rare gift for keeping you going: it's hard not to head right for the next episode, which makes it a pretty compulsive binge-watch. there's usually a wild twist, reversal, or unbelievably dramatic yet enigmatic event at the end. things happen at a great rate. how to get away, with its flash-forward and catch-up structure, is intricately and beautifully plotted. the genre is 'melodrama,' i would say, and it's rarely been done better.
the superhyperdramatic atmosphere gets a bit incessant, though. scandal had to keep topping itself season after season. after it had recapitulated all the top political scandals of the last forty years, they moved on to the president and supreme court justices murdering one another, vice presidents repeatedly engaged in actual coups, wild affairs among all concerned causing wars in africa, and so on. gonna admit that i hopped off for a bit when the idea was that olivia's dad ran the world from his undisclosed location, while her mom was the world's top terrorist.
plus it suffered from something that might be true in shonda's shows overall; the straight male characters tend to be a bit uninteresting, or are just eye candy or something. but anyway, the flaw at the center of scandal is the character of president fitzgerald grant and the blank actor that plays him. this person (i mean the character) is both weak and actually evil, and worse, he's boring, and yet he's supposed to be driving a great love story with kerry washington. people have to keep saying how special and charismatic he is because it's indetectible in the script, the shots, the performance, the love scenes, etc. on the other hand, the show has finally come unstuck this season as we go straight to impeachment, and i would hope things are moving toward an interesting climax.
her soundtracks invariably lean on '70s soul. there have been worse ideas.
one thing that shonda is doing is giving us main characters that are almost beyond flawed. olivia pope is one thing; at least she spends a lot of time feeling bad for doing things like fixing national elections. annalise keating is something else: a borderline evil or insane person. but utterly fascinating too: maybe about as far in this direction as shonda can push.
i remember realizing something was changing when my daughter jane, then 9 or whatever, liked the highschoolmusical superbitch sharpay (ashley tisdale) rather than the lovely vanessa hudgins. well, sharpay was interesting, vanessa was boring. and above all, sharpay was active and vanessa was passive. girls were looking for powerful women, and that still makes them socially problematic women. well, now jane is 15 and she loves scandal; he favorite character is mellie grant, the sharpay of dc, soon to be the pres in the spin-off or successor show. shonda has made a science of that kind of heroine, and is part of an historical transformation in the role and depiction of women in media. for one thing, i think the audience for dramatic television as a whole skews female. and as a whole, the men are becoming ornamental, the women... interesting.