Here at Wetpaint Entertainment, we're big fans of Grey's Anatomy mastermind and general TV mogul Shonda Rhimes. Therefore, we were excited to get our hands on the first three episodes of her new show, Scandal, which premieres on Thursday, April 5 on ABC. We're happy to report that for fans of Rhimes's snappy, fun-filled dramatic universe, Scandal is sure to please.
Note: This review is spoiler-free beyond basic plot points.
The show centers on the domineering Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and her crack team of consultants — otherwise known as "gladiators in suits" — whose mission in life is to handle high-profile scandals in DC. They do everything for their clients: PR, legal aid, stealing evidence from their house before the cops get there ... everything. (Of course, the team only work for the good guys, protecting the falsely accused and unfairly harassed.)
Yes, you read that right: It's a Shondaland show with nary a doctor in sight. The setting offers Shonda Rhimes a whole new avenue to do what she does best, fusing drama, fast-paced dialogue, a diverse cast, and all the romantic entanglements you could ever want into one shiny package.
And shiny it is. In a TV landscape where slow-moving realist dramas tend to win the most critical acclaim, Shonda Rhimes isn't afraid to keep her own voice. Despite not being set anywhere near a hospital, Scandal is immediately recognizable as part and parcel with Rhimes's signature heightened universe, where characters talk at super-speed and big twists lurk around every corner. There are emotional truths buried in some of Scandal's plots, but it's set in a world of pure TV fantasy.
That's not a bad thing, though, especially if you're already a fan of Rhimes's work. In the first three episodes the show confidently tells three very different, and generally interesting, episodic stories, and it establishes a promising multi-episode arc. The setting allows Shonda to play with plots that are entirely new for her, but she retains her ability to entertain while also posing the occasional interesting moral dilemma.
Is Scandal the new Grey's Anatomy, ready to take the world by storm with its soapy goodness? Not yet. We're pleasantly surprised by Kerry Washington in the lead, but we're still waiting for the rest of the cast to pop. And some elements of the show remain shaky — Olivia's involvement with the President of the United State (yes, seriously) is especially unconvincing in the first two episodes, though it starts to go somewhere intriguing by the end of Episode 3.
That said, we enjoyed all three episodes, and we have faith that the characters will continue to develop over time. If there's one thing Shonda's good at, it's building up interesting relationships (romantic and otherwise). We're definitely looking forward to watching this show grow.
Scandal premieres on Thursday, April 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.