WBEZ | scandal http://www.wbez.org/tags/scandal Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Scandal-Plagued VW Will Trim Spending By A Billion Euros http://www.wbez.org/news/scandal-plagued-vw-will-trim-spending-billion-euros-113874 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-498007100_wide-4f9c0b3f3e5801fd10e6d32b427408880ce22c51-s1600-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res456780921" previewtitle="The Volkswagen logo is seen at the main entrance gate of the Volkswagen group on Friday in Wolfsburg, Germany. That day, CEO Matthias Mueller announced the company would be cutting expenditures by more than $1 billion."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The Volkswagen logo is seen at the main entrance gate of the Volkswagen group on Friday in Wolfsburg, Germany. That day, CEO Matthias Mueller announced the company would be cutting expenditures by more than $1 billion." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/20/gettyimages-498007100_wide-4f9c0b3f3e5801fd10e6d32b427408880ce22c51-s1600-c85.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="The Volkswagen logo is seen at the main entrance gate of the Volkswagen group on Friday in Wolfsburg, Germany. That day, CEO Matthias Mueller announced the company would be cutting expenditures by more than $1 billion. (Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>As it grapples with an ongoing emissions cheating scandal, Volkswagen is &quot;driving cautiously&quot; &mdash; financially speaking.</p></div></div></div><p>The German carmaker is cutting spending by a billion euros ($1.07 billion) in the coming year, CEO Matthias Mueller announced Friday.</p><p>After the cuts, Volkswagen will be spending 12 billion euros in 2016, the Associated Press reports:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>Among other things, [Mueller] said Volkswagen would postpone the building of a new design center in Wolfsburg and the introduction of an all-electric Phaeton sedan, and review other projects.</em></p><p><em>&quot;We&#39;re driving cautiously over the coming months, but we know where we want to go and we want to ensure that the Volkswagen company comes out of the current situation strengthened,&quot; he told reporters.</em></p></div></blockquote><p>The company has been battered by the discovery that millions of VW diesel vehicles were sold with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/22/442457697/11-million-cars-worldwide-have-emissions-problem-volkswagen-says">&quot;defeat devices&quot; secretly installed</a>&nbsp;&mdash; software that allowed the car to determine when an emissions test was being performed, and reduce performance and emissions to cheat the test.</p><p>As a result, VW cars could pass the test &mdash; then drive off and release&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/18/441467960/volkswagen-used-defeat-device-to-skirt-emissions-rules-epa-says">up to 40 times more pollution</a>&nbsp;than legally allowed.</p><p>Later on Friday, VW will be outlining its plan to fix the vehicles in a proposal to the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, the AP reports. For most of the cars, VW can either alter the exhaust system (cutting performance and gas mileage) or install a chemical treatment process (requiring multiple hardware changes).</p><p>The automaker has set aside more than $7 billion to cover the alterations, but the AP reports the total cost could be several times higher &mdash; and Volkswagen is also facing the possibility of billions of dollars in fines.</p><p>Meanwhile, this fall, VW reported a quarterly loss&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/28/452497981/vw-reports-first-quarterly-loss-in-this-century-at-1-8-billion">for the first time in more than 15 years</a>.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/11/20/456774575/scandal-plagued-vw-will-trim-spending-by-a-billion-euros?ft=nprml&amp;f=456774575" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 12:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/scandal-plagued-vw-will-trim-spending-billion-euros-113874 Guatemala's political scandal http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-08-25/guatemalas-political-scandal-112724 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/220870239&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 22px; background-color: rgb(255, 244, 244);">Impeachment beckons for Guatemala&#39;s president</span></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p>A corruption probe has rocked Guatemala&rsquo;s leading officials. President Perez Molina refuses to step down, despite widespread protests and a supreme court ruling urging further prosecution. Adriana Beltran joins us to discuss the political unrest and what&rsquo;s next for Guatemala. She&rsquo;s a senior associate for citizen security at the Washington Office on Latin America.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong><em>&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/Adriana_WOLA"><span id="docs-internal-guid-e7d09f38-66a4-3fb9-13d0-7b1331199dbb">Adriana </span>Beltrán</a> is a senior associate for Citizen Security at the Washington Office on Latin America.&nbsp;</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/220870711&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 22px; background-color: rgb(255, 244, 244);">World History Minute: The fall of Pompei</span></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p>Historian John Schmidt recalls the fall of Pompei, which happened this week in the year AD 79.</p><p><strong>Guest: </strong><em>John Schmidt is a Professor at the University of Chicago, and author of &#39;On This Day in Chicago&#39;.&nbsp;</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/220871783&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 22px; background-color: rgb(255, 244, 244);">Palestinian minors and the Israeli justice system</span></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p>n 2014, we interviewed Military Watch, an organization that monitors the detention of Palestinian children in Israeli military prisons. We&#39;ll revisit this issue with Brant Rosen, Midwest regional director at the American Friends Service Committee and Rabbi of Tzedek Chicago. He&rsquo;s part of a Chicago coalition that&rsquo;s leading an international campaign to bring awareness to the conditions of Palestinian children being detained by the Israeli military called, &ldquo;No Way to Treat a Child.&rdquo; We&rsquo;ll also talk with Brad Parker, an attorney and International Advocacy officer for Defence for Children International Palestine.</p><p><strong>Guests:</strong></p><ul><li><em><a href="http://twitter.com/RabbiBrant">&nbsp;</a><span id="docs-internal-guid-e7d09f38-66aa-017c-1153-e448adcbb35a"><a href="http://twitter.com/RabbiBrant">Brant Rosen</a> is the midwest regional director of the American Friends Service Committee, a Rabbi at Tzedek Chicago and co-founder and co-chairperson of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council.</span></em></li><li><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-e7d09f38-66aa-24c0-b7b7-32ace90073c5">Brad Parker is an attorney and International Advocacy officer for <a href="http://twitter.com/DCIPalestine">Defence for Children International Palestine</a>. </span></em></li><li><em>Gerard Horton and Salwa Duaibis are co-founders of Military Court Watch.</em></li></ul><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 15:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-08-25/guatemalas-political-scandal-112724 Don't ignore the "diversity factor" http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/dont-ignore-diversity-factor-109000 <p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1398363_540486319363338_1251593255_o.jpg" style="height: 429px; width: 620px;" title="(Facebook/Sleepy Hollow)" /></span></p><p dir="ltr">I won&rsquo;t say that the only reason why I first tuned into &quot;Scandal&quot; was because there was a character &ndash; the lead character &ndash; that looked like me, but that was certainly a major factor. Television, despite its fluctuating ratings and successes from network to network, has become a larger medium. Its influence and storytelling capabilities have become more influential and more important than films.</p><p dir="ltr">In fact, as the film industry moves closer and closer to a formula that avoids &quot;risk&quot; (whether risk means original storytelling, romantic comedies, or stories featuring women), television &ndash; with its abundance of channels and numerous options available at any given moment &ndash; has become more experimental in its presentation.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">On the surface, it is ridiculous to say &ldquo;adding diversity&rdquo; is a risk. With ensemble casts, it is easy to throw in a black or East Asian face and call it a day. Whether or not the character is interesting or relevant to the show&rsquo;s structure as a whole matters little. Their presence should presumably be enough. But visibility can only go so far. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">It&rsquo;s not a matter of just adding new faces. It&#39;s a matter of showing that these faces are here for a reason, that they matter, that the show could not function without them there. That is a true sign of diversity. That the faces and bodies are different, yes, but also that they are just like anyone else: flawed, charismatic, and central to what makes a show &ldquo;click.&rdquo; </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">Few television creators are bucking this trend, but there are noticeable, successful exceptions. Shonda Rhimes, the creator of &quot;Grey&rsquo;s Anatomy,&quot; recently cancelled</span> &quot;Private Practice,<span>&quot; and still rising &quot;Scandal,&quot; has found a formula that works: cast based on talent rather than physical appearance. Her shows regularly feature leads of a variety of different races and ethnicities (not just &ldquo;black,&rdquo; which many lazy executives recognize as the only type of diversity necessary). And by sticking to this formula of casting for quality over race, Rhimes&rsquo; shows have found a home with millions of viewers. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">&nbsp;<a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/176301651/Hollywood-Diversity-Brief-Spotlight-2013" target="_blank">A new study</a></span>&nbsp;from the UCLA Bunche Center for African American Studies reported television shows that featured a cast of 40-50% people of color performed the best in median household ratings in 2011-2012. To boot, casts that were more than 90% white performed the worst, both cable and broadcast television.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">According to a </span><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/08/arts/television/08foge.html?pagewanted=print&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">New York Times article</a>, Rhimes &ldquo;didn&#39;t specify the characters&#39; ethnicities,&quot; in the pilot of &quot;Grey&#39;s Anatomy,&quot; her first show, &quot;so her casting process was wide open.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span>Sandra Oh reportedly shaped her character </span><span>Christina Yang when she walked in the door: </span></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-left:36pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">&ldquo;Even though some network executives assumed Ms. Oh&#39;s hypercompetitive character would be white, Ms. Rhimes did not - in the pilot&#39;s script she wasn&#39;t even given a last name - so all it took was one &quot;fabulous&quot; audition from the &quot;Sideways&quot; star to christen the character Cristina Yang.&rdquo; </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">The success of Rhimes&#39; shows have given ABC much needed life. Outside CBS, the remaining three major networks are struggling to create a new hit, yet Rhimes has managed to produce one with nearly every new show.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">More recent examples include FOX&rsquo;s &quot;Sleepy Hollow.&quot; It features black, Hispanic, and Korean-American actors, and was the first new show of the 2013-2014 television season to get an order for a second season. This same formula can be found in movies, such as the &quot;Fast and Furious&quot; films which have become more successful as they get more diverse.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>Many young black adults of my generation consider the &#39;90s to be the golden era of diverse TV. It was a time when shows featuring black actors with agency, hopes, fears and character development was a reality. Our childhoods made shows like</span> &quot;Living Single,&quot; &quot;Family Matters,&quot; and &quot;The Fresh Prince of Bel Air&quot; <span>seem like the norm rather than the exception. It seems now our golden era was merely a fluke, a series of network decisions to capture the trend of black people on television and ride it to a final conclusion in which there would be none at all. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">In 2013, the issue is not just about blacks on television, but about a variety of different races, ethnicities, genders, and bodies on television. Our understanding of diversity has expanded since then. Blacks are used as the default because of our history as the country&#39;s largest minority population, but &ldquo;the black factor&rdquo; and the&ldquo;diversity factor&rdquo; remain at issue. If the &#39;90s were the golden era, then the aughts were the draught. In this new decade, let&#39;s reverse the damage.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Britt Julious is the co-host of&nbsp;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbezs-changing-channels" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the future of television. She also writes about race and culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 24 Oct 2013 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/dont-ignore-diversity-factor-109000 Twitter, fandom, and why ABC's 'Scandal' matters http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/twitter-fandom-and-why-abcs-scandal-matters-108838 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/551127_688902614472857_511757039_n.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="(Facebook/Scandal)" /></div><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-29fcfb70-7e9e-2bb4-96da-46e34161db34">The stigma of Shonda Rhimes&rsquo; shows are not unfounded. Now entering its 10th season, <em>Grey&rsquo;s Anatomy</em> has emerged as a constant, if not deeply flawed television show. Although most television shows require a level of implausibility for the sake of plot, <em>Grey&rsquo;s Anatomy</em> jumped the shark numerous times to settle into its role of over-the-top drama.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-29fcfb70-7e9e-2bb4-96da-46e34161db34">But for a show like <em>Scandal</em>, the over-the-top drama works. Set in the highest Washington, D.C. political circles, the more ridiculous <em>Scandal</em> becomes, the more entertaining it becomes for its viewer. <em>Scandal</em> has thus far succeeded by emphasizing its strengths. Its stellar cast keeps the plotlines safe from devolving into utter madness. As &ldquo;fixer&rdquo; Olivia Pope, Kerry Washington is a more than capable lead, inducing both envy and frustration in her show&rsquo;s viewers.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-29fcfb70-7e9e-2bb4-96da-46e34161db34">More than anything, <em>Scandal</em>&rsquo;s near-perfect formula of intrigue, sex, and crazy has created and sustained a community of fans that are dedicated to the show&rsquo;s plot and the show&rsquo;s success.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-29fcfb70-7e9e-2bb4-96da-46e34161db34">There is nothing greater in television watching right now than live tweeting with other <em>Scandal</em> fans.&nbsp;</span>Last night I&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/britticisms/status/385596526140997632" target="_blank">joked</a>&nbsp;that the return of&nbsp;<em>Scandal</em>&nbsp;was a return to the &ldquo;Black Girl Twitter&rdquo; community I loved so deeply. Without provocation, we all began watching and talking about the show as it aired. My timeline explodes with chatter about the show, its characters, the clothing, and the music as it airs.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1238890_680036928692759_691831075_n.jpg" style="height: 207px; width: 310px; float: left;" title="(Facebook/Scandal)" /><a href="http://www.pewinternet.org/Presentations/2009/44--Twitter-and-status-updating.aspx" target="_blank">According</a> to a 2009 study from the Pew Research Center&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/17-Twitter-and-Status-Updating-Fall-2009.aspx">Pew Internet and American Life Project</a>, Twitter users are more likely to be African-American women. As well, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/17/arts/television/scandal-on-abc-is-breaking-barriers.html?pagewanted=1&amp;%2359;adxnnlx=1358514825-5e%20djvuRuiG14b3JjZiqVg&amp;%2359&amp;_r=1&amp;%2359;adxnnl=1&amp;pagewanted=all&amp;" target="_blank">according to a report from the <em>New York Times</em></a> of Nielsen ratings, &ldquo;<em>Scandal</em> is the highest rated scripted drama among African-Americans, with 10.1 percent of black households, or an average of 1.8 million viewers, tuning in during the first half of the season.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-29fcfb70-7e9e-2bb4-96da-46e34161db34"><em>Scandal</em> premiered as the first television drama starring a black woman in nearly 40 years. Two years after its premiere, the television landscape is minisculely better. Earlier this year, NBC premiered (and quickly canceled) the drama <em>Deception</em>, starring Meagan Good. The show included similar themes to <em>Scandal</em> (revenge, secrets, affairs), but suffered due to a poor time slot and an even poorer narrative structure.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-29fcfb70-7e9e-2bb4-96da-46e34161db34">Still, <em>Deception</em> was an early sign that broadcast networks are making small strides in creating television shows that feature and cater to more diverse audiences. Successes breed copies. Successes breed trends.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-29fcfb70-7e9e-2bb4-96da-46e34161db34">Earlier this fall, FOX premiered <em>Sleepy Hollow</em>, a supernatural thriller starring Nicole Beharie. If her character&rsquo;s race was needed specifically for the plot remains to be seen. As it stands, this is the third drama on a major network to star a black woman in the past two years. Whereas we waited 40 years for <em>Scandal</em>, audiences now only had to wait a summer hiatus for additional diversity on their screens.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-29fcfb70-7e9e-2bb4-96da-46e34161db34">If a trend is now &ldquo;black female lead,&rdquo; it can potentially lead to the sort of television landscape that is sorely needed. However, if the trend proves unsuccessful, there could be a backlash, a desire to not include diversity on upcoming shows as it has proven (just once) to be unsuccessful.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-29fcfb70-7e9e-2bb4-96da-46e34161db34">&ldquo;<em>Scandal</em> this week!&rdquo; my aunt exclaimed at the dinner table this past Sunday. There sat three generations of black women and each was as duly invested in the show as the other. We all loved it for different reasons.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-29fcfb70-7e9e-2bb4-96da-46e34161db34">My mother and aunt love the plot, but love the troubled and troubling romance between President Fitzgerald Grant and Olivia more than anything. My grandmother invested time in it like other dramas and soap operas she loves (Tyler Perry&rsquo;s <em>The Haves and The Have Nots</em> being her favorite). For me, <em>Scandal</em> is all about the plot twists and Olivia. Each new episode is a moment to watch history unfold. From the beginning, <em>Scandal</em> felt capital &lsquo;I&rsquo; Important and I invested time in it because of that.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-29fcfb70-7e9e-2bb4-96da-46e34161db34">In an interview for the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/17/arts/television/scandal-on-abc-is-breaking-barriers.html?pagewanted=1&amp;%2359;adxnnlx=1358514825-5e%20djvuRuiG14b3JjZiqVg&amp;%2359&amp;_r=1&amp;%2359;adxnnl=1&amp;pagewanted=all&amp;" target="_blank"><em>New York Times</em></a>, author Joan Morgan said, &ldquo;</span>It&rsquo;s about seeing the show where black women and other women are represented less about race and more about who they are.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-29fcfb70-7e9e-2bb4-96da-46e34161db34">Olivia Pope matters. On a show as ballsy and enthralling as <em>Scandal</em>, Olivia is the constant that keeps the show grounded in reality. With Olivia, we find a lead who is at once strong, vulnerable, and multifaceted. And although that means a lot to black female fans, it can and does mean a lot to <em>Scandal</em>&rsquo;s audience in general. </span></p><p>Hollywood is not merely a system of numbers. It is a system, period. It works through formulas and avoids risks. Audiences certainly suffer for this system, but when the system succeeds, there is little stopping executives from making the same decision, over and over again, wishing for the same results. When it comes to diversity, one can only hope that Hollywood finds this formula a lasting one.</p><p><em>Britt Julious is the co-host of&nbsp;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbezs-changing-channels" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the future of television. She also writes about race and culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 03 Oct 2013 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/twitter-fandom-and-why-abcs-scandal-matters-108838 For television, Twitter is the new live water cooler conversation http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-08/television-twitter-new-live-water-cooler-conversation-108332 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1017181_141685442694900_462625651_n.jpg" style="width: 600px;" title="(Facebook/Orange is the New Black)" /></div><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7475917e-5df9-bb31-a78e-f85bbf5b22fb">The only thing busier than my Twitter timeline during a live airing of MTV&rsquo;s &quot;Catfish&quot; is my Twitter timeline during a live airing of ABC&rsquo;s &quot;Scandal.&quot; Both shows illicit the sort of rabid fan response that can turn outsiders into insiders. </span></p><p dir="ltr">The same thing also recently happened with the release of Netflix&rsquo;s &quot;Orange is the New Black.&quot; Despite breaking the format of traditional network television by releasing a complete season at once, for a few days after, #OITNB was a trending topic.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7475917e-5df9-bb31-a78e-f85bbf5b22fb">Not every show can create this sort of fire. Nielsen recently released a study called <a href="http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/newswire/2013/the-follow-back--understanding-the-two-way-causal-influence-betw.html">&ldquo;The Follow-Back&rdquo;</a> that analyzed TV ratings and accompanying tweets. It found&nbsp;</span>Twitter messages were shown to cause a &ldquo;significant increase&rdquo; in ratings 29 percent of the time.</p><p dir="ltr">This was especially true for competitive/reality-based television shows, sports, and comedies. &quot;Catfish&quot; corresponds with their findings, but why do shows like &quot;Orange is the New Black&quot; and &quot;Scandal&quot;&nbsp;also have such significant representation in the Twittersphere?</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7475917e-5df9-bb31-a78e-f85bbf5b22fb">Unlike other network dramas, both &quot;Orange is the New Black&quot; and &quot;Scandal&quot; inhabit a special quality often missing: the ability to aggressively interact with viewers. With &quot;Orange is the New Black,&quot; the interaction lies in the ways in which we can view it.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr">Its release is made for binge watching. But rather than discovering the show on one&rsquo;s own time, it&rsquo;s calculated release and critical acclaim escalated its appeal. Consumers could read a positive review from <em>The New Yorker</em>&rsquo;s Emily Nussbaum, and then curl up with all 13 episodes.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7475917e-5df9-bb31-a78e-f85bbf5b22fb"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BCjXolgCUAAnFlq.png" style="height: 241px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="(Twitter/darbystnchfld)" />With &quot;Scandal,&quot; the interaction lies with the wild plot lines that dive from one extreme to the next. But like &quot;Catfish&quot; and &quot;Orange is the New Black,&quot; this show&#39;s&nbsp;plot lines make you want to talk about them.<br /><br />In <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=185534670" target="_blank">an interview</a> with Michelle Martin about &quot;Scandal&rsquo;s&quot;&nbsp;Twitter popularity, Gene Demby of&nbsp;NPR&#39;s Code Switch said, &ldquo;It&#39;s like watching the Super Bowl on DVR, right? You want to be in the room with everyone kind of yelling at the screen and rolling their eyes and throwing their hands up and saying all kinds of snarky stuff.&rdquo;<br /><br />There is information to decipher, but unlike a show like &quot;Mad Men&quot; that often requires research to understand its layers of references to things like &quot;Dante&rsquo;s Inferno&quot; or &quot;Rosemary&rsquo;s Baby,&quot; these shows keep you glued to their characters&nbsp;</span>&mdash; what they do and don&rsquo;t say and what will ultimately happen to them. It&rsquo;s almost impossible to not engage.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7475917e-5df9-bb31-a78e-f85bbf5b22fb">The fever of their fandom inspires other people to both start watching the show and to participate in the discussion. I only watched a handful of prior episodes before I started watching the current season of &quot;Catfish.&quot; But while scanning my Twitter feed during the premiere of the first episode, I noticed most people were talking about only one thing: what was happening on their screens. Soon enough, I began participating at well. There was no desire to try and &ldquo;fit in&rdquo; with the discussion at hand; rather the action of the screen was so compelling that there was little I could hold back.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7475917e-5df9-bb31-a78e-f85bbf5b22fb">We consume television in a fractured state. The UK drama &quot;Skins&quot; ended on Monday after seven seasons. I have never watched an episode on my television. Instead, I relied on illegal streaming websites to fuel my passion for a show that perfectly encapsulates the confusion, desire, and melancholy of being a young person. </span></p><p dir="ltr">Other shows I save for massive DVR viewings. If I miss an episode of a favorite series, I can wait until the next morning to find a clear stream on the network&rsquo;s website. And for shows that slipped between my fingers during the regular television season, there are always rentable DVDs. This is Netflix&rsquo;s bread and butter.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7475917e-5df9-bb31-a78e-f85bbf5b22fb">In that sense, social media as a place of community helps fuel the lost group aspect of television watching. Twitter connects TV to its live, collective habits. It is a reminder that entertainment can be even greater when matched with others who equally care about it. </span></p><p dir="ltr">My family and I often watched shows together in my parents&rsquo; bedroom. When we got older and busier, this fell away, but my sister and I still found time to watch our favorite shows together and pause our viewings to comment on the situations before us.</p><p dir="ltr">I live alone now and I didn&rsquo;t realize I missed this social interaction. But with the release of shows like &quot;Scandal&quot;&nbsp;or &quot;Orange is the New Black,&quot; I am finding that the social (with family, with friends and strangers, too) is merely a few clicks away.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">What is your favorite TV show to engage with online? Let us know in the comments section. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><em>&quot;Catfish&quot; airs Tuesdays at 9pm CST on MTV. &quot;Orange is the New Black&quot; is available on Netflix Instant Streaming. &quot;Scandal&quot; returns in the fall to ABC on Thursdays at 9pm CST.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Britt Julious&nbsp;writes about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 08 Aug 2013 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-08/television-twitter-new-live-water-cooler-conversation-108332 Morning Shift: Doing what it takes to get fans into seats http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-01/morning-shift-doing-what-it-takes-get-fans-seats-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 9.24.16 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>More MLB players are expected to be suspended Friday for using performance enhancing drugs (PED). We discuss the effect the scandal is having on the game, and how the Milwaukee Brewers are making it up to fans after their star player was suspended.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-33.js" type="text/javascript" language="javascript"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-33" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Doing what it takes to get fans into seats" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Thu, 01 Aug 2013 09:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-01/morning-shift-doing-what-it-takes-get-fans-seats-0 Interracial love on TV is the new normal http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-07/interracial-love-tv-new-normal-108249 <p><p><img alt="" and="" as="" class="image-original_image" fitzgerald="" goldwyn="" grant.="" kerry="" olivia="" pope="" president="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Scandal.jpg" starring="" title="Still from &quot;Scandal,&quot; starring Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn. (ABC)" tony="" washington="" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">One of the hottest TV romances to enrapture audiences over the past year has been the steamy liaison between a fictional President and his former Communications Director, played by Tony Goldwyn and Kerry Washington, respectively, on the ABC smash hit <i>Scandal.&nbsp;</i>However, the &quot;scandalous&quot; aspect of their affair has been mostly focused on their clashing levels of political power (and the fact that the President is cheating on his First Lady), not the outdated, potentially hamfisted conundrum of a white man dating a black woman.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">At one point, Olivia Pope (Washington) mentions the <a href="http://www.racialicious.com/2012/12/13/table-for-two-scandals-brush-with-history/" target="_blank">Sally Hemings-Thomas Jefferson</a> nature of their relationship. President Fitzgerald &quot;Fitz&quot; Grant (Goldwyn) is stung by the comment, and later remarks, &quot;You&#39;re playing the race card because I&#39;m in love with you? Come on! Don&#39;t belittle us.&quot; Interestingly enough, I didn&#39;t give much thought at all to the interracial aspect of their pairing until Olivia brought it up.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">I suppose the subject cannot be ignored completely, nor should it be; however, the choice of <em>Scandal </em>creator Shonda Rhimes to make their racial disparity more of a non-issue than a huge brouhaha may be the biggest watershed moment of all.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><i>Orange is the New Black</i>&nbsp;is another example of show that proves times are changing for the better. Not only does the Netflix prison dramedy contain a diverse range of romantic entanglements&mdash;from a Latina prisoner&#39;s dalliance with her white guard to a a plethora of same-sex encounters that nimbly defy racial divides&mdash;but the series also depicts an interracial family with appropriately subtle nuance and grace.</p><p><img a="" abc="" alt="" class="image-original_image" crazy="" eyes="" from="" gets="" her="" is="" new="" orange="" parents.="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Crazy-Eyes-Parents.jpg" the="" title="Still from &quot;Orange is the New Black,&quot; when Crazy Eyes gets a visit from her parents in prison. (Netflix)" visit="" when="" /></p><p>The parents of black inmate Suzanne &quot;Crazy Eyes&quot; Warren just happen to be <a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/uzo-aduba-on-adoption-informing-her-orange-is-the-new-black-character" target="_blank">white</a>; a shock to some viewers, maybe, but also a moment that feels heart-tuggingly genuine and perhaps even relatable to audiences who may have otherwise written her off as another &quot;crazy&quot; black woman stereotype. Did being adopted by a seemingly nice, affulent, &quot;normal&quot; white couple contribute to her issues later in life? As with the rest of the complex female characters on OITNB, I can&#39;t wait to delve deeper into Crazy Eyes&#39; backstory and find out.</p><p>Of course, interracial families don&#39;t seem like such a big deal to most people in 2013; in fact, white parents adopting black or Asian children are usually perceived as more <em>en vogue</em> than unconventional. But when a Cheerios commercial nonchalantly featuring a white mother, black father and cute-as-a-button biracial daughter can cause a <a href="http://gawker.com/cheerios-ad-starring-interracial-family-predictably-sum-510591871" target="_blank">racist uproar</a> in the new millenium, I am reminded that we still have a long way to go.&nbsp;</p><p>The fact of the matter is that TV shows still take great risks in veering from the norm, especially when the shows&#39; leads (not just their quirky supporting characters) are the ones to defy previously ironclad boundaries of race, sex and gender roles in relationships.&nbsp;</p><p><img a="" abc="" adopted="" alt="" an="" and="" as="" biological="" children.="" class="image-original_image" couple="" family="" gay="" interracial="" multi-ethnic="" of="" polo="" raising="" saum="" sherri="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/The%20Fosters_ABC%20Family.jpg" starring="" style="float: right; " teri="" the="" title="Still from &quot;The Fosters,&quot; starring Sherri Saum and Teri Polo. (ABC Family) " /></p><p>Enter <em>The Fosters</em>, a new drama series from ABC Family about an interracial lesbian couple and their multi-ethnic family of foster, adopted and biological children. Yes, devoted families just like theirs exist outside the world of television, but rarely are they portrayed front and center as a brood akin to <em>7th Heaven</em>.&nbsp;</p><p>Thankfully, change has arrived in full force, whether the bigots like it or not. And while interracial relationships on TV are still considered &quot;groundbreaking&quot; in this day and age, my hope is they won&#39;t even bat an eye in the years to come.</p><p>We may not live in a post-racial world; but as an unremittingly hopeless romantic at heart, I&#39;d still like to believe that love is colorblind.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px; ">Leah Pickett is a pop culture writer for WBEZ and co-host of&nbsp;<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2&amp;ign-mpt=uo%3D2" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 14px; font: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px; " target="_blank">Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the future of television. Follow her on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 14px; font: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px; " target="_blank">Twitter</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 14px; font: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px; " target="_blank">Facebook</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com/" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 14px; font: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px; " target="_blank">Tumblr</a>.&nbsp;</em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 01 Aug 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-07/interracial-love-tv-new-normal-108249 Why do we binge watch television shows? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-07/why-do-we-binge-watch-television-shows-107958 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2053902311_78793b6af2_z.jpg" style="height: 455px; width: 600px;" title="(Flickr/Homies In Heaven)" /></p><p>The clock said it was 3 a.m. and yet I was unable to turn way from the screen. Eventually, I developed a headache and closed my laptop screen, only to wake up four hours later and continue indulging in my new obsession. I was watching <em>My Mad Fat Diary</em>, a television show I consider to be the most simple and the most important of the year. With only six episodes released through England&#39;s e4 network, <em>My Mad Fat Diary</em> quickly gained an international online audience because it was easy to consume all of the episodes in one setting. Its short format was perfect for binge watching.</p><p>Why do we binge on television shows? Some people still watch television shows one-by-one as they air or are streamed online. But in many ways, it is easier and more enjoyable to consume the storytelling of a thought-provoking, plot-driven television show in one multi-episode session.&nbsp;</p><p>Binge watching treats different television shows in equal measure. It&#39;s not that each show is the same. But the method of watching is equal across genres, lengths and intended audiences. I binge watched the e4 teen drama <em>Skins</em> in the same way that I watched the now-defunct ABC comedy <em>Don&#39;t Trust the B</em> and the brilliant seasons of<em> The Wire</em>. And to me, I love them in different but equal ways. I don&#39;t consider one to be of a higher quality than the other. For their respective genres, they did their storytlling &quot;right.&quot;</p><p>There are numerous ways to binge watch television shows, but I prefer to watch on my laptop or tablet. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-04/tuning-why-headphone-culture-signals-change-living-public-106837" target="_blank">Like the iPod</a>, a certain culture has developed around the laptop. It has fueled a level of intimacy with both the product itself and what it can instantly provide. My connection to these shows is also fueled by the fact that what I want to see is so easily accessible.&nbsp;</p><p>The relationship feels similar to when I started using my Kindle. The Kindle became a portal to literary intimacy. What I read (and it was a lot) became difficult to pull away from because I formed a connection to the accessibility and ease of the technology. Because the story was so immediate and the technology so omnipresent, my relationship to the words changed too.&nbsp;That&#39;s not to say that books are difficult (or that televisions are as well). Rather, they are different. Perhaps we shape the relationships to new forms of technology the more we use them. And because these new forms of technology are so personal and meant for singular use, the connections are deeper.&nbsp;</p><p>In the end, I think that the similarities between television shows, binge watching, and literature is even more potent than we would initially think. Binge watching is like reading and television (at least the fictional variety) is like literature. Each new episode is a new chapter. And each new chapter is working toward an overall story. When we talk about the dire state of creativity in mainstream filmmaking and the resurgence of strong television, perhaps what is also being said is that television connects on a fundamental level that we have always known and understood. We are flipping pages on the screen. The narrative moves forward.&nbsp;</p><p>--</p><p><strong>Five shows to binge watch this summer:</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/537413_324232054355885_101605897_n.jpg" style="width: 100px; float: left;" title="(Facebook/E4)" /><strong><em>My Mad Fat Diary</em></strong>: In this quiet and heartbreaking teen dramedy, 16-year-old Rae Earl must readjust to life after spending four months in the local mental institution for attempting suicide. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-03/my-mad-fat-diary-best-television-show-you-arent-watching-105838">Don&#39;t let this premise fool you</a>. The show is warm and hilarious and features perhaps the best soundtrack of 90s Brit pop and alt rock. (Find it on YouTube)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/297112_514053361963527_81820997_n.jpg" style="height: 67px; width: 100px; float: left;" title="(Facebook/BBC America)" /></p><p><strong><em>Orphan Black</em></strong>: This BBC America sci-fi thriller does not hold anything back. Like most great sci-fi television shows, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-05/orphan-black-proves-important-television-can-be-fun-107020" target="_blank"><em>Orphan Black</em> is not afraid to shock and awe in the name of the plot</a>. And just what is that plot? Clones. More clones than you could even imagine. (Find it On Demand)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1000797_10151622967427226_187679448_n.jpg" style="height: 67px; width: 100px; float: left;" title="(Facebook/E4)" /><strong><em>Skins</em></strong>: The 7th and final season of <em>Skins</em> began airing last week. Catch up on the back stories of the latest season&#39;s three stars: Cassie (seasons 1 and 2), Effy (seasons 1-4), and Cook (seasons 3 and 4). <em>Skins</em> is a teen show less about what it means to be a teen and more about <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-04/why-uks-e4-network-produces-some-most-beloved-television-shows-american" target="_blank">the ways in which our emotions drive and destroy our actions</a>. (Find it on Netflix)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/552266_10151863495285288_1114916119_n.jpg" style="height: 75px; width: 100px; float: left;" title="(Facebook/ABC)" /><strong><em>Happy Endings</em></strong>: This brilliant, ahead-of-its-time ABC hypercomedy was recently canceled. Watching the show as it aired would have been ideal, but its lightness and absurdity fits perfectly with the breeziness of summer. This is not a <em>Friends</em> clone, unless you consider <em>Friends</em> on speed to be your type of television show. (Find it on Hulu and abc.go.com)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/257723_623640614332391_315281687_o.jpg" style="width: 100px; float: left;" title="(Facebook/ABC)" /><strong><em>Scandal</em></strong>: There&#39;s a reason why <em>Scandal</em>&nbsp;breaks twitter on Thursday evenings. Its fans are die-hard, rabid even, and their motivations are not unfounded. The fast-paced story of a Washington D.C. &quot;fixer&quot; also in an affair with the President, <em>Scandal</em> is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-02/praise-messiness-scandals-olivia-pope-105271" target="_blank">surprisingly smart</a> and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-05/its-ok-love-shonda-rhimes-television-shows-107128" target="_blank">Shonda Rhimes&#39; best effort yet</a>. (Find it on Netflix and abc.go.com)</p><p><em><strong>Britt Julious</strong> blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 08 Jul 2013 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-07/why-do-we-binge-watch-television-shows-107958 It's OK to love Shonda Rhimes' television shows http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-05/its-ok-love-shonda-rhimes-television-shows-107128 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP120110152184 (1).jpg" title="Showrunner and producer Shonda Rhimes (left) with 'Scandal' star Kerry Washington. (AP/Chris Pizzello)" /></div><p>Shonda Rhimes is important. She is critical. That it has taken the <a href="http://t.co/jULNPbAiIH" target="_blank"><strong>mainstream media</strong></a>&nbsp;this many years to discover and talk about this speaks to the ways in which we discuss the creation of entertainment and the systems within the entertainment industry itself. The entertainment industry is male-dominanted, exclusive, and isolationary.</p><p>Shonda Rhimes &ndash; a writer, producer, and showrunner who at one time maintained three successful television shows (<em>Grey&rsquo;s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal</em>) at the same time on one network &ndash; bucks this industry standard, instead creating work that is inclusive, unique, feminine and fun. These traits are not typically used to describe Important Television, but Rhimes&rsquo; rate of success over failure, fandom over derision, deserves further examination and praise.</p><p>Shonda Rhimes is a feminist. She might not say it explicitly, but it can be seen in her shows. They stem from a female perspective. This is a reflection of Rhimes herself. She is a female writer, producer, and showrunner, an extreme rarity seen only in a handful of recent examples (Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling most notably). Rhimes controls the content of her shows. They are born out of her vision.</p><p>And it is her vision that turned many from indifferent to appreciative. Rhimes&rsquo; shows feature female lead characters. This strong vision can be seen through the actions of her characters &ndash; their decisions to openly discuss and have abortions, their struggles over life choices in work and home life &ndash; and even the conceit of the shows themselves. She explores their inner lives, desires, wants, and concerns and takes them seriously.</p><p>Audiences witnessed <em>Grey&#39;s Anatomy</em>&#39;s Christina Yang&rsquo;s (Sandra Oh) forthright desire to have an abortion when pregnant. The first time, she suffered a miscarriage before the procedure. The second time, years later, she underwent the procedure, never wavering from her desire to not be a parent. That millions of viewers saw this on primetime television and the world did not implode shows that Rhimes&rsquo; vision is a reflection of the very real inner lives and actions of many contemporary women. Her audiences can appreciate such storylines because they are true and because they are given the respect they deserve.</p><p>As well, Rhimes&rsquo; shows are diverse, something that is still a rarity on mainstream television and in Hollywood in general. Her latest show, <em>Scandal</em>, features a black female lead portrayed by Kerry Washington. Earlier this year, when reflecting on the importance of <em>Scandal</em>&rsquo;s Olivia Pope, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-02/praise-messiness-scandals-olivia-pope-105271" target="_blank">I wrote</a>:</p><blockquote><p>Depictions of black characters in film and television especially usually fall into one of a limited number of tropes: the tragic, the sassy, the perfect. Olivia does not fit neatly into any one category. She is a woman in the wrong kind of relationship, one that is forbidden and heartbreaking. She is smart and authoritative and strong in self-assuredness. When she is right, she is very right and she will let you know it.</p></blockquote><p>This same characterization can be seen throughout her shows. The characters are messy and complicated. Their decisions are often riddled with holes and major consequences. Like real life, Rhimes understands that these are choices people make &ndash; white or black, young or old &ndash; and the things we normally consider their otherness have little bearing on the matter. She does not treat diversity as if it&rsquo;s something to dwell on. The experiences of the average person of color do not revolve around their race, ethnicity, gender, or other factor that makes them a minority. Rather, their experiences are just like those considered a part of the mainstream. When race is brought up, it is done casually and pointedly, not overwrought.</p><p>But most importantly, Rhimes&rsquo; shows are fun. Although <em>Grey&rsquo;s Anatomy</em> has diminished in quality the longer it has been on the air, the show in its earliest state (and <em>Scandal</em> in its current state) was an engaging, exciting, and unique program. <em>Grey&rsquo;s Anatomy</em>, currently in its ninth season, continues to outperform many new and established broadcast television shows.<em> Scandal</em> <a href="http://www.deadline.com/2013/05/ratings-rat-race-idol-rises-scandal-hits-series-high-glee-two-men-finales-down-office-up/" target="_blank">reached its series high</a> this week.</p><p>Important Television can and should be fun. Yes, audiences desire something plot-driven, well thought-out and rich, but they also desire something to keep them coming back week to week. Rhimes succeeds where others fail. If we desire a future entertainment industry that reflects the diversity and stories of the world we live in, we should do more to praise those such as Rhimes who actively work to reflect that world.</p><p><em>Britt Julious blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for <a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank"><strong>WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</strong></a> or on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank"><strong>@britticisms</strong></a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 10 May 2013 12:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-05/its-ok-love-shonda-rhimes-television-shows-107128 In praise of the messiness of Scandal's Olivia Pope http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-02/praise-messiness-scandals-olivia-pope-105271 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP284248783765_0.jpg" title="Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope (AP)" /></div><p>Olivia Pope wears a lot of white. She wears white dresses to inauguration ceremonies or lush white coats while running to and from one fire to the next.</p><p>She even wears long white gloves that she plucks from her body, finger by finger, to touch her great and complicated love, President Fitzgerald Grant, as he recovers from a gunshot wound in the hospital.</p><p>If white is a symbol of purity, from merely a quick glance, Olivia&#39;s aesthetics tell a story of a perfect, pristine woman. Her clothes should be the reflection of who she is, or who she projects to the world.</p><p>But any fan of <em>Scandal</em> can attest to the simplicity of this image. Audiences this season have witnessed the crumbling of this facade of perfection. This is not just the result of her affair. It is the result of her choices, the difficult decisions she must make in her personal life and the livelihood of those around her. Does she continue her affair with the President? Do we support her decision to break up a budding relationship for one of her staffers? Is it fair for her to keep secrets about the lives of her employees? Can helping facilitate an illegitimate presidency ever be okay?<br /><br />As in real life, Olivia (Kerry Washington) has had and will continue to face situations that test her morals and ideals. And it is the pressure of these decisions that continues to make <em>Scandal</em> one of the most surprising and compelling shows on television. This gradual turn in character continues to breathe life into the show, making it television to unpack slowly the next day. However, what is important in this slow unravelling is not just that the character of Olivia is more complicated and nuanced than we imagined. It&#39;s that she is those things at all.<br /><br />The first few episodes of <em>Scandal</em> presented a character who was, even with an affair with a married man, too perfect to believe. She seemed inhuman, incapable of bad ideas and bad decisions. Her perfection even allowed audiences to accept her affair. The president&#39;s wife must be truly terrible, one would assume, for Olivia to willingly pursue a married man. In many ways, Olivia represented another example of the &quot;Black Boss Lady&quot; television trope. <a href="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BlackBossLady">As identified</a> by the website TV Tropes,</p><blockquote><p>[T]he Black Boss Lady is good, or she wouldn&#39;t be where she is today. She&#39;s not afraid to take some risk if there is a decent chance of a worthwhile pay off &hellip; When it comes to drama, her blackness is hardly ever mentioned, her femaleness being the main source of plot. This being so she won&#39;t have much of an Urban Accent or have many tropes stereotypically associated with blackness.</p></blockquote><p>But as season two has progressed, Olivia has proven to be flawed in a truly human and relatable way. And it is these flaws that make her so important for both female and (especially) black characters on television. Her decisions are not always right. Her gut check (which she heavily relied on as a source of knowledge in the former half of the first season) proved to be less of a guarantee as her actions began to be governed by problems that in many instances seemed larger than she could handle. Although she at times slips back into her identity as the unquestionable Black Boss Lady, her messiness, like the messiness of the politicians, leaders, business tycoons, and other assorted characters her team at Olivia Pope &amp; Associates (OPA) fixes, is real.<br /><br />Her messiness is integral to the success of the show. For <em>Scandal</em> to truly succeed, the writers of the show had to let go in some of the structure of their characters, allowing audiences to see that no one is truly immune from the way problems affect our personal lives and decisions. Every character has a &quot;scandal&quot; and it is because of this that we root for them, flaws and all. But more importantly, her messiness is integral to her well-roundedness as a character.<br /><br />Olivia Pope is a rare character for blacks in general and black women in particular. Depictions of black characters in film and television especially usually fall into one of a limited number of tropes: the tragic, the sassy, the perfect. Olivia does not fit neatly into any one category. She is a woman in the wrong kind of relationship, one that is forbidden and heartbreaking. She is smart and authoritative and strong in self-assuredness. When she is right, she is very right and she will let you know it. She is these things and many more.<br /><br />Each week gives viewers another glimpse into why she is the way she is. There is a reason why Olivia is the lead and not President Grant or new OPA hire Quinn Perkins or any of the other strong supporting cast. The writers and creator (Shonda Rhimes) made a smart choice that gives viewers the chance to witness perhaps one of the most richly nuanced depictions of black womanhood to ever be broadcast.<br /><br />I relate to Olivia on a fundamental level. I see her blackness, her femininity, and I see myself. But also, I see her sadness, her confusion, her anger, her exasperation, her tears, her joy and I see myself as well. Before <em>Scandal</em> began, much of the publicity cited the fact that the show was the first prime time drama in decades to have a black female lead. Although this still stands as an important milestone for television, <em>Scandal</em>&#39;s role as a vehicle for more complete representations of black womanhood should not be ignored either. What we are witnessing is a slow-building completeness and that is change to love.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Follow Britt on twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms">@britticisms</a></em></p></p> Fri, 01 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-02/praise-messiness-scandals-olivia-pope-105271