A few weeks ago, as Panama and I were discussing the logistics of the D.C. screening for our TV pilot, he offhandedly mentioned that the Scandal season premiere—which aired the night we scheduled the screening—might have an effect on the number of people we’d draw to our event.
“How so?” I asked in all my Pittsburgh naivety. “Our screening starts at 7:00 and should end by 9:00. It shouldn’t interfere with Scandal at all.”
“Dog,” Panama replied, channeling his best light-skinned Randy Jackson, “this is D.C.”
The screening went well. We had it at Busboys and Poets, we managed to fill the room, and those in attendance seemed to enjoy the pilot and the 45 minute-long talk back afterwards.
The talk back ended a little before 9:00. After hanging around to take pictures and close everything out, we left at roughly 9:15 to attend Scandal Watch DC—a Scandal watch party (duh!) that we were asked to live tweet.
Since Busboys and Poets and Jin Lounge (the site of Scandal Watch DC) are practically next door to each other, I was able to see Jin’s doors as soon as we left.
And, what did I see?
A red carpet. A backdrop printed with sponsor’s logos. A couple dozen people in line, all dressed like characters Anthony Mackie and Paula Patton play in movies. A doorman with the perfunctory “I’m working the door at a very important event” black on black suit and headpiece.
As soon as Panama saw this, he started to walk back to his car to change his sneakers for some, um, non-sneakers.
“Why are you changing shoes?” I asked, intent on keeping true to my Pittsburgh. “They invited us to the event. I doubt your shoes will be an issue.”
“Dog,” he replied, reaching deep to channel his best light-skinned Randy Jackson again, “this is D.C.”
Now, although my slightly sardonic tone may suggest otherwise, I had a great time at the Scandal Watch party, and I think the women who threw the event did a great job. I also do (gasp!) enjoy watching Scandal. Despite whatever criticisms it receives (and deserves), it has one quality that separates it from 90% of the shows currently on TV. It is always entertaining. Always. I can’t even say that about Mad Men, and that’s probably my favorite show on TV today.
Anyway, as I sat on a couch in Jin, listening to a packed house react to every line, heel turn, and Olivia lip-quiver like they were watching the Super Bowl, something finally dawned on me.
Although there were quite a few men at the watch party, I’d guess that 75%-80% of the people there were women—numbers that likely reflect the overall demographics of Scandal viewers. Yes, there are many men who enjoy the show, but it’s targeted towards, promoted by, and dominated mostly by women. Women are the ones who’ve made it a social media sensation and cultural force. And, while I’ve joked before that Shonda Rhimes is the Bougie Black Girl’s Geppetto—and that Olivia Pope is the patron saint of Bougie Black Girls— it’s not just Black women who love Scandal. It’s White women, Latina women, Asian women, women from Youngstown. It’s just…women. (Not all women love Scandal, of course. But…just stop making faces and bare with me.)
And this is why a week can not pass without another piece written by a man (well, usually a man) detailing exactly why Scandal sucks. It’s why you’re likely to see more tweets about “bed wenches” on Thursday nights between 10:00pm and 11:00pm than you will at any other time. It’s why there are men whose love for shitting on the show and its fans surpasses the love Scandal fans actually have for Scandal.
While there are many very intelligent sounding theories for this level of pushback, I think the root cause is rather simple.
It’s created by, targeted towards, and loved by women. So, it can not possibly be any good.
Although I do realize there are some racial, sexual, and socioeconomic factors at play here, the (mostly) male antipathy for this show isn’t so much a burning hate as it’s a never-ending attempt to dismiss and disregard the merits of something that’s unabashedly targeted towards and supported by women. Because of course “something created for women” = “something that likely sucks.”
On that level, it’s not much different than the mocking disdain directed towards romantic comedies—well, romantic comedies not made by Judd Apatow—the Oxygen Network, women’s magazines, Twilight, cats, comediennes, and even any male entertainer who speaks more to women than men. (Hey, Drake!)
Interestingly enough, this level of skepticism towards “women’s” things isn’t only harbored by (some) men. I know women who, in an attempt to make themselves seem more “smart” or “serious,” will intentionally craft an affinity for things that are more traditionally male. I’ve even had a couple very talented female writers express to me that they won’t consider themselves successful until they’re published in GQ or Esquire.
It actually kind of reminds me of some of the criticisms certain things—the NBA, rap music, Atlanta, etc—receive because they’re considered to be a bit too Black. Not saying that every person who harbors a dislike for any of these things feel that way for that reason, but you can’t deny that an undercurrent of “This is a bit too Black, so it can’t possibly be any good” exists.
My girl and two of my friends came to the watch party with Panama and I. When the party ended, each guest received a gift bag as they walked out the door. By the time I got to the door, though, they had run out of bags. My girl left a few moments before me, and was waiting outside with a bag.
“What’s in there?”
“Lotion, a gift certificate for a massage, and some other girly stuff. They’re actually getting more bags from the back. If we wait a minute, you can get one too.”
“I’m good. Let’s go. I’m hungry.” I replied as we started to walk away. But, as we turned the corner and neared a pizza spot, a thought shivered down my spine:
“Shit. I wanted a bag too!”
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)