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Shonda Rhimes Dismisses Idea that ‘Scandal’ Promotes Infidelity

Kerry Washington’s “Scandal” character, Olivia Pope, causes as much controversy offscreen as she does on. Her onscreen interracial extra-marital affair with President Fitz has been one of the main topics of debate among viewers since the show debuted on ABC April 2012.

Producer, writer, director Shonda Rhimes has regularly defended her show from critics who found some of the content offensive. This time she spoke out against the idea that the show made infidelity appear acceptable.

“I don’t feel like we’re making adultery acceptable. We weren’t setting out to make adultery OK. To me it’s not about adultery or not adultery. We’re telling the story of these two characters who very specifically have this kind of relationship […] we tell all sides. So while there are times when you’re like, ‘Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) and Liv are wonderful and I want them to be together,’ there are also times you think, ‘Fitz is scum and he shouldn’t be cheating on his wife.’ And there are times you think, ‘Olivia should go off and find herself somebody who’s single.’ I like the fact that everybody feels this big debate. That’s fantastic, because that’s the point. We’re not giving a judgement on it one way or the other.”

Rhimes was likely responding to a statement made by fellow ABC producer David Zabel, who made public comments about the handling of adultery on TV, especially when it features a female protagonist.

His show “Betrayal,” like “Scandal,” centers on a woman’s ‘romanticized’ affair with someone else’s husband, only this time the female lead herself is also married. Zabel expressed that he felt it’s “a challenge” to make your female protagonist a cheater, but added, “They’ve overcome it on Scandal. They’ve overcome it pretty well, as far as I understand.” This was the part of Zabel’s statement that purportedly prompted Rhimes’ response above…


But just because some people are having a hard time accepting Olivia’s scandalous relationship with President Fitz, that doesn’t mean their relationship is ending any time soon. When asked by TV Line about whether the relationship between Fitz and Olivia would continue into next season, the showrunner replied, after dancing around the question a little bit, “it’s not finished.”

In other “Scandal” news, “Friends” star Lisa Kudrow is set to guest star on the series in a recurring role as a politician, but details about her character are currently like B613: highly classified.

The third season premiere of “Scandal” debuts Oct. 3 on ABC at 10 PM/9 Central. A recap special will air on the same day at 8 PM ET/7 Central to give viewers a refresher before the season premiere.

Just for conversation, take a look at the above photo which has been circulating around the Web, poking fun at “Scandal” fans. What do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with Shonda Rhimes’ comments about the show’s handling of infidelity.


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