By Melissa Camacho,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Political thriller mixes sex with violence and murky ethics.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The ethics demonstrated on Scandal are murky. Pope and her team work hard to protect their clients and do a thorough job, but that often involves breaking the law or covering up crimes or embarrassing acts. There's also the implication that politicians are a corrupt group of people.
Positive Role Models
Olivia is strong and empowered, but she shows poor judgment when it comes to her personal life. Her staff is more interested in serving their clients than resolving crimes or pursuing justice. The team doesn't always follow the law to help their clients.
Violence & Scariness
Kidnappings, murders, and other violent events are frequent. Guns, dead bodies (sometimes riddled with bullet holes), and bloody wounds are often visible. One episode features an extensive torture scene.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Infidelity is a theme of the show. There are references to prostitution, sex acts, promiscuity, STDs, and former President Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Words like "whore" are used. Kissing between both opposite-sex and same-sex couples.
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Words like "bitch," "piss," "damn," and "ass" are all audible.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drinking (cocktails, wine, hard liquor) is visible during meetings, at bars, and at social functions.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Scandal is a mature, Washington, D.C.-themed drama with stories drawn from real-life political scandals, including the relationship between former President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Topics like infidelity, prostitution, and sexual behavior are frequently discussed, and there are frequently violent images of murder victims and bloody wounds (including close-ups of bullet holes). Strong words are occasionally audible ("bitch," "damn," "ass") and social drinking (cocktails, wine, hard liquor) is regular. Characters aren't always driven to follow the law or engage in behavior that's morally acceptable.
Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
SCANDAL is a dramatic series starring Kerry Washington as former White House communications director Olivia Pope, who's now running a successful Washington, D.C., crisis-management firm designed to help high-profile clients protect their public image while keeping their scandalous secrets under wraps. Along with an eclectic team of experts -- including womanizing defense attorney Stephen Finch (Henry Ian Cusick), lawyer Harrison Wright (Columbus Short), computer hacker Huck (Guillermo Diaz), investigator Abby Whelan (Darby Stanchfield), and new hire Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes) -- the fast-thinking and quick-talking Pope works day and night to help her clients, including a decorated Iraq War veteran accused of murder and a Supreme Court nominee who has allegedly dealth with prostitutes. But while the team commits itself to fixing other people's problems, Pope's relationship with her former boss, U.S. President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn), causes problems of its own, especially when his chief of staff, Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry), is monitoring her every move.
Is It Any Good?
Although Scandal is a work of fiction, it's hard to ignore the thinly veiled parallels between the show's plot lines and some of the real-life scandals that have rocked the United States' political elite throughout the country's history. Because Scandal focuses on attempts to hide these incidents rather than judging or absolving people for them, the events' ethical implications are often overlooked.
Scandal is well written, but some viewers may find the content exploitative of some of the worst stereotypes about politicians and other leaders. Those looking for a character with a strong moral compass won't find it here, either. But others may simply enjoy the show as a guilty pleasure. Regardless, it's a series best left for mature audiences.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about politicians being role models. Should political leaders be held to a higher standard of behavior because of their role in society? Does featuring their negative behavior as fictional TV entertainment reinforce real-life stereotypes about politicians?
The media often associates sex with scandal, especially when it has to do with politicians, celebrities, and other public figures. Is it necessary for the public to know these details about them, regardless of whether they're true? How do we benefit from having this information? What's the down side? Does the media go too far when reporting these incidents?
Is the main character a role model? What are her admirable qualities? What are her not-so-great traits?
- Premiere date: April 5, 2012
- Cast: Columbus Short, Katie Lowes, Kerry Washington
- Network: ABC
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: March 31, 2022
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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