ABC has an undisputed hit with “Scandal” the soapy and outrageous show revolving around high-powered fixer Olivia Pope and her affair with the President of the United States Fitzgerald Grant. Women and men alike have flocked to the show for its unpredictable plots and relatable characters; people with all the power in their professional lives who make head-scratching decisions in their personal lives. The show’s success has obviously influenced the creation of another ABC show called “Mistresses” which premiered June 3rd (lots of thought went into that title).
The show is about four friends, two single, one married, one widowed all in various array of love lives. In the pilot episode we found out the only one not having an affair is the widow, but (because we can’t actually have a monogamous relationship on this show) we found out that her late husband had a mistress who was pregnant when he died. What the what! Has our love for “Olitz” (Olivia and Fritz, duh!) made adultery trendy?
Mistresses are as old as marriage and have often been vilified as predators who take advantage of men’s overwhelming sexual urges. I’ve always found it perplexing how men can be the “dominant” gender and yet they are supposedly rendered helpless to the whiles of women who are simultaneously supposed to be cunning yet weak. I think what “Scandal” has done has tipped the scales in the “other woman’s” favor.
Few shows have highlighted the paradoxes that can define an extra-marital affair the way “Scandal” has. He’s married and she’s dating, they both claim that they have been “ruined” by the other and we aren’t even touching on the racial under (sometimes over) tones. The power shifts are cataclysmic; the furious romp in the server room after which he spat at her “I may not be able to control my erections around you, but that doesn’t mean I want you.” Yet in the season finale after his wife leaves and everything looks like they are about to sail off into the sunset, she chooses her family, her Gladiators, over the love of her life.
The network seeks to bank on the momentum of the “Scandal” fanbase who relished the forbidden romance by giving an arrangement of adulterous scenarios: Josslyn – kept woman, Karen – confidant turned lover, Savi – workplace tryst, April – betrayed wife. Where Olivia and Fitz seemed to encapsulate all of these, ABC has broken them down into individual storylines.
“Mistresses” is going into its third week and tvbythenumbers.com says it is the only new, scripted, summer show that increased viewers in its second week. If those numbers hold in the third week then ABC may have another winner on their hands.
America’s relationship with marriage seems to be in flux; divorce rates continue to rise, educated women are waiting longer to get married and adultery, though not welcome, may be becoming par for the course.