Today, September 11, 2018, marks 17 years since 9-11. Thus, today seems an appropriate day to analyze the very first episode of Scandal which deals directly with military service, honor to your country, and respect. Most importantly, this episode deals with love and society’s expectation of it. In this blog post, I will analyze the gender representation of a gay soldier in the “Sweet Baby” episode of Scandal.
Overall, Scandal has a very large gender spread within it’s cast. The main character is a powerful female, Olivia Pope, and her team on the show consists of two other females and three males. Writer, Shonda Rhimes, created the show with a balanced cast, and throughout seasons 1 and 2 (all I have seen so far) the cast remains fairly balanced. However, at the end of the day, Olivia Pope is the ultimate leader and provides an almost overwhelming female presence to the show, alone. Above, I used the term “team” loosely, as Olvia really holds all the power. Whatever she says, goes. Even though she may extend a vote to her team, she many times completely over-rides their unanimous decisions with the opposite choice.
In this particular episode, the character Quinn lacks significance. Although fans will discover her meaning later in the show, during this episode she is pointless. We actually see her loose power throughout the episode. She begins strong and confident but ends the episode crying in the bathroom.
Despite these last two paragraphs being about the presence of women and their significance in the show, I really want to write about the underlying gender representation in this particular episode regarding the gay soldier, Sully St. James. James approaches the Pope team covered in blood, saying his girlfriend is dead, and that of course, he did not kill her. Olivia goes against all members of her team and decides to take his case simply because her gut tells her to. During their investigation, the team discovers James’s alibi… He was out kissing his boyfriend!
Yes. Yes. So, uh, here is where crap hits the fan.
Sully St. James refuses to release his alibi to the public and chooses to be taken to jail instead! This drives Olivia crazy since she could have kept her client from prison and a death sentence, but instead, he chose his reputation as a Conservative, Christian, anti-gay war veteran over his innocence.
Olivia later encourages Sully St. James to think of sharing his story for reasons outside his innocence at stake. She tells him that he should be just as proud of who he loves as he is of his incredible military background. Olivia challenges the social norm and asks James to be proud of his identity as both a gay man and a conservative soldier. Thus, the show connects gender to sexual orientation and gender interactions axis of representation.
such scandalous love :)