If Shonda Rhimes had decided to use season 6 of Scandal as another platform to comment on her utter dislike of president-elect Donald Trump, I'm not sure many would be opposed. Shonda has led, and I (with many other fans), have followed. While at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena on Tuesday morning, Rhimes proved yet again that she's an opinionated and classy chick. She realized she has the perfect opportunity to bash Trump, as season 6 will deliver the outcome of the fictional election between Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) and Francisco Vargas (Ricardo Chavira). But as explained, she's refraining, and it makes complete sense as to why.
Rhimes has been completely vocal throughout the events of the real-life election. In October, she schooled Trump's comments on abortion with this tweet: "FYI: 'ripping baby from womb in 9th month' is called C-section. #VaginaEducation." Then, she spoke up regarding her race, tweeting: "I REALLY need him to stop calling me 'THE African-Americans' because ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" She's communicated her pure distaste for him, posting: "I've got it. He speaks in simple sentences. 'I'm the smartest. I'm the best. I'm great. She's bad. She's crooked.' No ACTUAL thoughts." And most recently, Rhimes had Meryl Streep's back after the actor addressed Trump at the 2017 Golden Globes, later getting backlash from him.
Safe to say Rhimes could incorporate these feelings into her show if she wanted to, but instead she's been taking the high road in the writers' room and just doing her thing.
Rhimes was asked if she would use this real-life inspiration for the show given its timely parallel to real life. "I don’t really equate the two. That’s not really the goal,” she said, according to BuzzFeed. She shut down any links from Trump and Hillary Clinton to Grant and Vargas as well. “If that was the goal, we would have waited until after the election to write about an election, I guess. The goal was to tell the story we’d been telling, and had been on the journey to tell, the entire time.”
There you have it. Most of her decision had to do with timing, plus the fact that she's her own lady boss who can tell her story as she pleases. At the panel, Tony Goldwyn (Fitz Grant) confirmed Rhimes' statements, saying "Five of the first six [episodes] we filmed were before we knew anything about the [outcome of the] election."
The actor did acknowledge the bizarre timing, and had Rhimes's back. “The fact that it’s a counterpoint to this crazy political world America is living through is interesting, but they’re not the same and we aren’t sort of in reaction to that,” he said.
Fellow Shondaland squad member Bellamy Young (Mellie Grant) also raised a good point, explaining the purpose of the show isn't to serve political commentary, but escapism. "Are we sitting down to escape? Are we sitting down to be informed? Are we sitting down to motivate ourselves? We’ll see what’s to come," she said.
Rhimes let fans know that regardless of her feelings about Trump and the election, she's continuing to do things her way. "I feel incredibly proud of the way we’re telling stories on Scandal. We’re not trying to outdo reality," she said.
So is it January 26th yet, or what?