Scandal is a thriller and drama TV series that first aired in 2012 and is one of ABC networks most popular shows. This show has a main plot that is the government and the different type of scandals that the white house encounters and how they overcome these situations using Olivia Pope; thus being the thriller part of the show. While throughout each episode there are also many other different interpersonal conflicts that each person has individually; this is more of the drama aspect of the show. I would consider Scandal to be a hybrid genre since this does use a combination of two different themes throughout every season.
Season 2 Episode 3, is called “Hunting season”. During this episode it opens up with some laughs as Olivia makes some jokes with the senator after seeing him on national TV for the suit he was wearing. Immediately after the mood of the episode completely takes turns around and it goes into the more thriller genre. A man appears in the back of Olivia’s car seeking her help and he reveals information that puts personally affects Olivia so she decides to help him. Olivia is notorious for helping people find justice and doing what she things is the right thing and she will go to any extent to make sure that of this.
Each episode is about one hour long but is also found on Netflix with no commercials making it only 45 minutes long. At the very beginning of each episode it opens with the ABC network logo and then goes into about a minute of short clips that are taken from the previous episode. Right after the recap it leads immediately into a roughly two minute introduction about what the rest of the episode is going to be about. In just about every episode during this two minute introduction there is usually a problem that is brought to Olivia pope and her partner’s attention. I like to think it’s very similar to CSI, at the beginning of every episode there is a case that is introduced and then the whole episode will play out that specific case. This is the same with Scandal except the case that they are working on is just the big picture but every episode digs deeper and deeper into the characters personal lives and relationships. At the end of this clip introducing the problem they play a really dramatic tune that implies that there is a problem and then a still screen comes up with the title Scandal. We begin to see the credits right at this point after the shows title is revealed and all the names are played on the screen as the episode starts.
The shows structure is in my opinion very organized. It jumps back and froth from scene to scene but the way that they separate the scenes is what makes it so interesting. Throughout each episode there are two different settings; the white house and Olivia’s office. There are usually two different stories being told at the same time in each episode; one is usually a problem that focuses on the drama aspect of the show, the other focusing on the more thriller side. It will jump scene to scene and each scene focuses on one of these stories. We know that these scenes are meant to have different meanings because in-between the scenes they play that tune that is used through out all the episodes (the sound is of the clicking of a bunch of pictures being taken). The way that they separate their scenes is similar to CSI: special victims unit, in-between ever scene they have that same dun dun sound that is so well known. For example in this episode (Season 2 Episode 3, is called “Hunting season”) of Scandal it opens up with the president and his wife having a serious talk at the white house about there child that is soon to be born. Then the next scene jumps to Olivia at her office with her partners and this man that is seeking help. When each episode comes to an end the case that was introduced in the beginning of the episode usually is solved but the drama stays continually throughout all the episodes. Then come the credits at the end.
This show demonstrates a hermeneutic code for a narrative. Scandal follows the hermeneutic code that was coined by Barthes. This code focuses on a story or plot that is not fully explained and has the audience asking questions. It usually starts with enigma, a mystery or something that we want to know. This will form many questions in the viewers head and force the viewer to start anticipating what could happen. Then you will see a delay, during this delay this is where we see clues that may lead up to that answer that we were introduced to in the beginning. Then finally at the end is the resolution; all you questions for the most partwill get answered, giving the viewers closure. The point of this type of narrative is to give its audience a sense of completeness; that there was a beginning, middle and an end.
For this show specifically, this type of narrative really keeps the audience in tack and on their toes. I am going to take the same example from before and layout how this narrative was used. In season 2 episode 3, it opens with introducing a serious national problem that gets introduced to Olivia and her team. It then leads in to all the other interpersonal conflicts that happen continuously throughout each episode on top of the case that is being taken on. Situations like Olivia’s staffs past slowly being revealed and also Olivia and the president’s affair. Then we get many clues about the actual case that was introduced, such as the government murdering people that know information that are a threat to the agency. Then the case that was presented in the beginning comes to an end. In this episode Olivia took on the wrong case and got played but in the end she got what she wanted.
In this episode there is a villain and there is a hero. In every episode the hero always stays the same and that is the main character Olivia Pope. She is represented as a strong, independent woman that doesn’t let anything stand in her way when it comes to doing the right thing. In this episode Olivia is trying to help her client reveal spying software that the government is using to spy on US citizens. In this episode they wanted us to thing the villain was the government but in the end we come to find out that the guy that came forth with this information was just using Olivia and her expertise. In the end Olivia and her team didn’t let this villain get away and they ended up killing him.
This hermeneutic code outlined in every episode of Scandal. In some episodes it might not be as clear to see but its still there. The ongoing drama that we keep piecing together through each episode is what ties the audience in and this is why people will continue to watch it.