'Scandal' Handles New Mellie & Her Unconventional Grief In a Really Refreshing Way

One of the thing that makes Scandal so great is all the character development that gives its characters. But as the fourth season rolls on, it's clear that no character has changed as much as Mellie, whose breakdown is still a major focus on Scandal. Mellie's reaction to her son's death — wearing a bathrobe and eating junk food on her son's grave and just generally not giving a damn what anyone thinks — is not the sort of reaction that normally gets shown on television. Which actually makes the whole thing even more awesome.

Mellie's transformation — played to perfection by Bellamie Young, as would be expected — is not the conventional picture of grief that one sees on television, but then again, the way grief is shown on television kind of sucks. Grief is usually conveyed with lots of sad expression, some tears at the funeral, and a sprinkling of references to the deceased person in the episodes that follow, paired with more sad facial expressions and some occasional insights that help them move on until they eventually just...move on.

In the real world, grief is messy. And although it almost always involves sadness somewhere in the emotional cocktail, it also can make people angry or apathetic or clinically depressed. And sometimes, as with Mellie, it makes people just not give a damn about the things they're supposed to give a damn about.

Although Mellie might appear at first glance to be somewhat out of control, it's clear that she's doing what she needs to in order to cope with the unspeakable loss she's suffered. She's gone through something that's changed her perspective and made the things she used to care about seem unimportant. She's gone through something that is so hard to deal with that there's no room for the things she's supposed to deal with. She's gone through something that requires her to put herself first. In other words, her reaction makes sense in the context of her character. And it also lines up a lot better with real reactions to grief than having her be just generically sad for a while.

So as entertaining as it is to see Mellie lose it for a while, and as awesome as it is to watch her put herself first, second, and third after sacrificing what she wants for the sake of other people, the best part is that this is an honest reaction to grief.

Hopefully Mellie snaps back and becomes the power player we know and love at some point this season — things would certainly be less entertaining without her — but in the meantime, it's great to see a portrayal like this actually on television.

Image: Craig Sjodin/ABC