Shonda Rhimes wrestled with how to use her platform to comment on the intersection of racial prejudice and police brutality on “Scandal.”
We look to “Scandal” to deliver a weekly helping of addictive story telling that takes us out of our usual daily dramas. However, Shonda took the opportunity to bring her audience back to sobering reality on Thursday as she built an entire episode around a situation just like Michael Brown’s shooting death at the hands of Ferguson cop Darren Wilson. In the “Scandal” season finale, an unarmed Black teen named Brandon Parker is gunned down by a police officer.
Eventually, Olivia does manage to encourage authorities to bring the offending officer to justice for killing Brandon. Just as he is being locked up, he basically confirms suspicion of his racist mindset.
It was a very heavy episode for the audience to process, and it had a deep impact on the cast as well. “Weeping. As if I hadn’t read it and didn’t act in it. Just weeping,” series star Kerry Washington, who plays Olivia, tweeted on Thursday night. “Everybody was VERY quiet after the table read for THIS episode.”
While justice was served on “Scandal,” Darren basically got away with Michael’s murder earlier this year when a grand jury opted not to indict him. According to Shonda, this was a particularly tough plot point to maneuver around when figuring out how to wrap up the episode and still be respectful of the real lives affected by police brutality.
“We had a great deal of debate about this ending. Whether to be hopeful or not. It was really hard,” Shonda tweeted after the episode. “In the end, we went with showing what fulfilling the dream SHOULD mean. The idea of possibility. And the despair we feel now.”