What the power of television can do to us

By Nina Steele 

As a black woman married to a white man, I have found myself hooked on the ABC TV series ‘Scandal’ and from what I have been reading on social media and many other websites, the show is very popular among black people mainly because of the interracial relationship between the 2 main protagonists. For anyone not familiar with the show, it is a political thriller based in Washington, D.C. and it charts the relationship between Olivia Pope (played by Kerry Washington) the head of a crisis management firm and the president of the United States, Fitzgerald Grant III (Fitz), played by Tony Goldwyn. The show has become cult viewing and is one of the best performing TV shows on ABC. That the president is a married man passionately in love with Kerry Washington’s character is the show’s main talking point.

What strikes me most about the show apart from the many love scenes and the amazing chemistry between the 2 main characters, is how it reinforces the ideal of the nuclear family. Indeed even though the president is a married man with children, he longs for the time when he is no longer president so he can divorce his wife, marry his mistress and have children with her. Throughout the show, his yearning for a simple life with the ‘woman he loves’ his alluded to time and time again and as a result, some fans have even come up with images of how their children might look like. Watching the show reminds me of why so many people find it difficult to come to terms with not having children. The attraction that both characters have for one another is so intense that you hope they will find peace one day and realise their dream of starting a family together and this is helped by the fact that the president’s current marriage is one of convenience and exists in name only. The underlying message is that having children with someone you love is what we should all aspire to and although it is a very romantic idea, it can have a very long lasting and damaging impact on those who want but cannot have children. Also, by portraying having children as being the icing on the cake for any relationship, the assumption is that children can only enhance a relationship, when the opposite can also be true.

As a great fan of the show, I hope that people will see it for what it is, i.e. great entertainment and not real life. For one thing, in this age of 24 hour news, no head of state in the Western world (except France!) can survive such an intense affair. Additionally, I hope people realise that having children can be a messy affair that can ruin a relationship and so if for whatever reasons, you find yourself unable to conceive, please don’t look at your life as a failure or incomplete. Like I keep saying over and over again, not all paths are meant to include children and so be grateful for what you already have. By all means continue to watch the show, as I do with much passion, but do remember to watch it with your eyes wide open and not fall for old stereotypes about what you need to have in your life in order to be happy.

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