When things get especially bizarre, it can be tough to tell whether life is imitating art or art is imitating life or some weird combination in between. The Season 6 premiere of Scandal was no exception. But, before you get too carried away imagining that the soapy drama is about to become a commentary on our real-life political landscape, just know that star Kerry Washington insists that Scandal isn't based on real life.
The turnaround time for a television show, between its filming and its release, can be surprisingly short; the cast and crew of Scandal, for instance, pulls long hours to finish filming an episode in just nine to 10 days. That gives a show the capability to stick close to current events, if it so chooses. Seeing the first episode of Scandal's sixth season could easily have led many fans to believe that the show was heavily inspired by the results of the 2016 Presidential Election.
But Washington insists that that's not the case, telling Entertainment Weekly:
It doesn’t get lost on me every day that for years the culture of this show was that the things we say and do are outrageous and unfathomable, and now we’re having to change plot lines and reconsider air dates because it’s too close to what’s actually happening or could be misconstrued as such. That is a reality that I am consistently trying to wrap my head around.
Even though Season 5 focused on a female presidential candidate squaring off with a loud-mouthed man — cough cough — the Olivia Pope-portrayer wants to reassure you that if anything, Shonda Rhimes has been working to move the plot away from any similarities with real life, not toward it. So while, yes, the premiere did indeed feature Mellie Grant making that concession call to the very unlikely Frankie Vargas, don't blame Rhimes for the similarities. Blame the shooting schedule.
It's been almost three months since the election, but the premiere was filmed long before that in order to accommodate Washington's maternity leave. (Her second child, a son reportedly named Caleb Kelechi Asomugha, was born in October 2016.)
As you can see from the tweet above, the first production meeting took place all the way back in July 2016, which means the script was written even earlier, long before the results of the election were clear. So any similarities were a coincidence, and Rhimes is eager to avoid any overlap going forward.
So much though that she intentionally structured the season to avoid the election process altogether.
I don’t want to play a minute of watching an election happen. I already knew that we were all going to be sick of an election. I wanted to start on election night and go forward.
So there you have it. This time around, it was life imitating art, even though timing didn't make it seem that way. So you can go back to enjoying Scandal like the delicious popcorn it is instead of worrying that it was going to transfer over into some sort of commentary. Believe me, you can find that elsewhere; leave Scandal out of it.