As someone who has watched Grey's Anatomy since the beginning, I should have known to trust Shonda Rhimes with my heart, my head, and my nervous system (although she takes great liberties with the latter part of my physiology). I even liked Private Practice in the beginning, and I think its flaws had little to do with her hand in it. There was general lack of chemistry between and consistency of performance from about half the cast members, whereas on a show like Grey's you pretty much learned to love screen time between any two given characters. Private Practice just wasn't the ensemble piece that it wanted to be, and as much as I love Kate Walsh and Taye Diggs, as bright, funny and beautiful as both of those talented actors are, I couldn't get into it.
I started watching Scandal simply because it had a black female lead and was produced by Shonda. I'm a political junkie, and I consume any and all political pop culture. Everything I love unfortunately lives under the shadow of The West Wing and The Wire, two of the greatest politically-oriented shows ever to be made, and so I am pretty harsh when it comes to judging political dramas (satires, on the other hand, get a pass since I haven't seen too many and the only current one I watch, Veep, is nearly flawless). I didn't get too into the first few episodes because, well, they were kind of bad. The characters spoke quickly and confidently, but their confidence felt unwarranted even when they threw their weight around with tangible, impressive results. It's always worse to be told how amazing a character is rather than to let that character's dialogue and actions speak to the subject. The line deliveries felt mostly robotic, and the actual dialogue tautological; "You never question Olivia Pope because Olivia Pope is unquestionable". Then of course we see just how unquestionable she is when she makes one phone call and saves the day. Like House in the later years, she walks into a case at the last critical moment with the perfect solution as though it were obvious all along. I don't like characters who are not phased by intense circumstances, because even the president and his team seem like they are overwhelmed at times and I find it frustrating and insulting that I am supposed to accept her team and her as perfectly immune to human characteristics because they are some breed of Nietzschean nightmare creatures who can do no wrong (even when they're "doing wrong" LOLOL they have questionable morals sometimes wink, nod).
BUT OH BOY WAS I WRONG. This show is amazing, and the characters have depth, and it is classic shonda. I am in S2 by now and SO EXCITED to see everything that happens. I've seen everyone of them unravel and teeter, and all the presumed hot air that filled the scenes in the first few episodes has dissipated. It's great to watch Olivia and her team actually try and figure cases out, sometimes dangling by a finger holding onto a clue. I'd say that the transition happens about 5-6 episodes into S1, when the writers begin revealing back stories, and the various lies holding the firm and the country together begin to fall apart. If you're not watching scandal and looking for something easily digested but still totally engaging, I suggest watching it. I know a ton of Jezzies out there watch it too so I just wanted to say HEY GUYS, I finally made it to the party. Where's the wine, I need to drink it while my perfect hair falls to behind my shoulders and my good-looking colleague tells me soul-crushing news. CLASSIC LIV.