“It’s Only a TV Show”: Why I Can’t Watch #Scandal

I jumped on the #Scandal bandwagon pretty late.  Halfway through season two, I started buying season one episodes on Amazon Prime, and my husband and I binged watched. I was particularly fond of the messes Olivia and the Gladiators tackled each week; they were both believable and outrageous, and made for great TV. The back-stories of the Gladiators were fascinating as well.

I was never fond, however, of the relationship between Olivia and Fitz. First, I couldn’t understand her being attracted to a man I was extremely not attracted to. While I can find white men sexy, Fitz was decidedly tight and rigid. Second, I could never see their relationship as one based on love; in fact, it was based on sex and lies. Never had I seen the two of them simply have a conversation as normal couples would. Instead, there was a lot of lustful glances, emotional outbursts and elicit sex in the corner of the Oval Office. I don’t think I’m a prude; the issue for me wasn’t the sex itself. Instead it was the incredibly flimsy foundation, the adultery, and the fact that they were never honest with each other. Olitz was — and still is — my least favorite aspect of the show. (At first, I appreciated Liv’s complexity as a character, until I realized she wasn’t really complex at all. She’s really just not a good person. Ugh.)

But I continued to watch, and actually watched season three in real time. I was glad that the other characters started to get some real development. I was grateful for the evil of Papa Pope, and the reemergence of Mama Pope, the methodicalness of Cyrus. Papa Pope could deliver one bad monologue (“You are a Boy” stands out as the best, IMHO). I was #TeamJake since I found Fitz so nauseating (and Jake was Bob Brown, a great character on a better show), but I was able to push my dislike onto other characters. Like everyone else: Quinn especially.

By the beginning of season four, however, my orientation toward the show began to change. I found myself physically anxious, and unable to let the show go when it was over.  I ruminated on what was happening, I found myself extremely unhappy about developments and sick to my stomach. I had heart palpitations, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how unhappy the show was making me. I’d been through this before, and I didn’t want to go back there.

See, there is something in my brain that literally cannot take drama. People with bipolar have a difficult time regulating their emotions, and I am no different. External stimuli affect me deeply; I tend to see things happening outside of me as a part of me. Quite irrationally, I feel responsible for other people’s emotions and situations. I cannot always pinpoint why, but that doesn’t stop the feelings from being there. So as much as I try to remind myself that “it’s only a TV show” and “this is not real,” my efforts are usually for naught. I feel Mellie’s pain. The adultery makes me sick. I literally feel hate towards Olivia and Fitz. Every lip quiver makes me want to jump up and punch somebody.

Because my efforts to calm down are so worthless, I simply choose not to watch. Maybe if I tried really hard to remind myself of the reality — these are characters, Kerry Washington is a happily married mother, Guillermo Diaz also plays a very entertaining great drug dealer, Tony Goldwyn has many endearing qualities — I might be able to watch with the disinterested amusement and artistry Shonda Rhimes brings each and every week. But the effort is too much.

So, instead, I chose less dramatic dramadies, sitcoms and pure comediesBlack-ish is one of my favorites at the moment. And I still watch the news and the occasional documentary. If I going to be upset about drama, I need it to be REAL drama. I do, however, sometimes indulge by following the story line. #BlackTwitter is usually all I need for that.

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