Criminals, cheaters, and political manipulators have been a staple of cable TV at least since Tony Soprano took the world by storm over a decade ago, but network shows have generally been reluctant to make their protagonists unlikable. Sure, they can be jerks, but only if they're entertaining and generally working for good (looking at you, House). But Scandal has pushed the envelope of likability, giving us heroes who steal elections, a president who kills a supreme court justice, and, unforgettably, a torture-happy character who attacks his own teammate.
In a long interview with Vulture, showrunner Shonda Rhimes explained exactly why she's chosen to fill her latest show with characters who don't just push the boundaries of what's acceptable in heroes, but shatter those expectations to the point that it's hard to tell if we can even root for them.
"As much as we all love these people, they’re all still monsters," Shonda said, as an explanation for how she could end up writing Huck pulling Quinn's teeth out (no, we're not over it). "They’re all still monsters walking around in human skin."
That much has been made abundantly clear about most of these characters. But why? When the show started, it wasn't clear that it was filled with monsters — Olivia Pope and Associates seemed truly dedicated to truth and justice, even if they were willing to skirt the law to get things done. That's changed over the last two seasons.
"I feel like we’re fighting against the very traditional idea that we see these people and we identify with them and therefore they must be good," Shonda said. "On our show, we see these people and we identify with them — that doesn’t mean they’re good by any stretch of the imagination."
"We’re not making a show in which you’re supposed to like people," Shinda added. "That's not the goal of the show."
Do you think Scandal's characters are too unlikable? Let us know in the comments below!