Pop open that bottle of red, Gladiators, ABC’s Scandal has been renewed for another season! As one of the most popular shows on television over the last six years, and the first time in close to 37 years that a television show starring a black actress appeared on a major television network, Scandal has cemented itself as must-watch TV. Over the course of the Kerry Washington-driven show, it has taken us on some dark, twisted and murderous places. And we aren’t just talking about the relationship between fixer Olivia Pope and President Fitzgerald Grant either.
As we wait expectantly for the final season to be released in the fall, we couldn’t help but look over the last few years and take a look at what we might have missed. Don’t mean to start a thing here, but it’s hard to notice the details when you’re trying to not only keep up with Olivia’s monologues but all those plot twists too. Don’t worry, we got you. Here, 15 things you never noticed in Scandal.
15 Olivia Pope is Real
Yes, the quick talking, flawless and fearless leader of Pope & Associates is based on a real person by the name of Judy Smith. And dang, are her credentials legit. She was an aide to George Bush Senior (special assistant and deputy press secretary, #thankyouverymuch) and then turned crisis manager (aka fixer!) Some of her most famous clients include Monica Lewinsky during that Bill Clinton scandal, Senator Larry Craig who was arrested in a men’s bathroom in a 2007 sex-sting operation, and socialite Jill Kelley who brought down CIA director General Petraeus. Obviously after meeting Smith in 2009, Rhimes knew she had to build a show around her because who wouldn’t - you can’t make this stuff up! Smith knows what skeletons are hiding in the closets of some of Washington’s most powerful. But as Rhimes told The Washington Post, “She’s the inspiration for the show, but Olivia Pope is not Judy.” Thank heavens for that because we can’t imagine Smith and H.W falling in love, now can we?
14 Fitz and Olivia Have A Song
Deception? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Early in the series, one of the main reasons we tuned into Scandal, week after week, was to watch how the salacious love affair between Fitz and Olivia would play out. Where will they secretly make out next? Will they break up -again? Will Fitz give up the presidency to be with Liv? But as the adage goes, you aren’t officially a couple until you’ve picked “your song” (and left your wife, but that’s neither here nor there!) Since these are fictional characters, the decision came down to Music Supervisor Alexandra Patsavas. Next time you’re re-watching your favorite episode, keep an ear out for it. Any time the duo are together, you’ll notice the same instrumental tune is always in the background. The official Olitz song? “The Light" by Album Leaf.
13 Mellie & Fitz Were Going To Get Divorced Long Before They Actually Did
It’s hard to believe now, but when Bellamy Young auditioned for the role of Mellie Grant, she only had two lines to deliver. (Side note: she showed up dressed as Jackie O.) Turns out, Rhimes really wanted to write a presidential divorce in the first season. This meant that the character of the First Lady would only appear in three episodes. But when writers saw the relationship between Mellie and Fitz, they began to include her in more scenes until she became a series regular. Six years later and one divorce later, we can’t imagine Scandal without her. Who else can drink hooch like a boss, go toe-to-toe with Olivia, become senator and, of course sit in the Oval office? Whether you’re on Team Mellie or not, it just goes to show that a woman in pearls has just as much power as the one in a cape!
12 Fitz Has His Very Own Doppelganger
Eagle-eyed fans have pointed out that Fitz has his very own real world doppelganger in the form of newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron. In specific photos, and from the right angle, these two brooders could be brothers. They seem to share the signature Presidential frown, the same coloring and some sexy barely-there stubble.
But we think the most striking similarity between these two is the fiery way they defend the women in their lives. Macron met his wife when he was 15 years old and she was his high school literature teacher of 40. And while there is no evidence that the two ever began an affair while he was still underage, (they got married when he was 30 years old) that hasn't stopped the media from heavily criticizing the May-December marriage. Macron will have none of it though, telling Vanity Fair, “If I am elected—no, sorry, when we are elected—she will be there, with a role and a place. She will have an existence, she will have a voice there, a view on things. She will be at my side, as she has always been, but she will also have a public role." Sound like someone we know?
11 Joshua Malina is a Prankster
According to the man himself, he is the prankster on set. In a 2015 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel, Malina described an instance where he pranked his cast members to record video messages that, when edited, sounded like they were saying terrible things about themselves. Ouch! But Executive Producer Shonda Rhimes had a better one up her sleeve. When she discovered that Malina had a habit of reading the last pages of a script to make sure his character, David Rosen, wasn’t about to be killed off, she was not amused. See, Rhimes wants her actors to reveal genuine emotion when reading the script for the first time. According to Mental Floss, at the table read of the finale of season 2, Rhimes included a scene in Malina’s script where Rosen kicks the bucket! Turns out, she had included this alternative ending in his script only. Lesson? Don’t prank the Rhimes.
10 Tony Goldwyn Is A (Hollywood) Royal
Let’s face it. Not all actors can successfully take on the role of President of the United States. Especially when you’ve got the likes of Morgan Freeman to contend with, he’s the voice of God for crying out loud! But Tony Goldwyn stepped into the role as if he was born to be the most powerful man in the world. Thing is, he almost was. While he doesn’t come from a political dynasty he does come from Hollywood royalty -and that’s kind of the same thing. His grandfather, Samuel Goldwyn was a massive player in the Golden Age of Hollywood. In fact, he helped create not one but two of the biggest studios, including MGM (That’s Metro Goldwyn Mayer, to you) and Paramount. But there’s even more Hollywood pedigree in his history. His maternal great-grandfather wrote the screenplay for Gone With The Wind. Mic drop.
9 All That Red Wine Is Fake
In the fictional Washington world of Scandal, two things are almost always certain: Olivia can “fix” everything and if she can’t? There’s always a glass of red wine to keep her company. But since they’re actors, and you can’t have them prancing around all day on set getting drunk on Malbec, what does Kerry Washington and the other cast members drink in lieu of the ubiquitous vino? Darby Stanchfield, the actress who plays Abby Whelan, revealed all in an interview with Food & Wine. “We used to use a grape juice but it was so intensely high in sugar and if you have to do the scene over it can be a little much." The grape juice was replaced with a highly concentrated Hibiscus tea, that when brewed strongly, looks like red wine.
8 Olivia Holds Her Glass All Wrong
Speaking of the grape, what happens when you make a Venn diagram of wine connoisseurs and Scandal fans? This little factoid. Critics have pointed out that Olivia Pope holds her wine glass from the bowl -like you would a beer. This, according to experts, is a travesty! The proper way to hold a wine glass is from the stem. #duh When you cup it, like Liv does, there’s the potential to change the temperature of the wine. And as everyone knows, this is a big no-no. But for every wine snob watching Scandal there’s a fashion critic watching too. And they’re paying attention to something else happening in these wine scenes. Popular fashion blog, Go Fug Yourself, noticed that when Olivia is drinking wine, she changes into comfortable baggy, over-sized, white wraps. They’ve even coined a term to refer to them: wine cardigans. We should all probably have one of those - whether we drink wine like a pro or not.
7 Episode Titles Are Spoken Out Loud In Almost Every Episode
Here’s a game you can play the next time you’re watching either a new or old episode of Scandal. Find the title of the episode before you start and then guess which character will say it out loud in the episode. Because this is an actual thing that the writers try to do. In almost every episode, the title of said episode is spoken by one of the characters. In fact, one of Olivia’s most kick-ass moments, “It’s handled” immortalised in the above gif, is also the title of the first episode of season 3. Other titles that have been put in the mouths of different characters? The Fish Rots From the Head, That’s My Girl, and most recently “Trojan Horse.” That episode was a doozy, wasn’t it? (R.I.P Portia de Rossi.)
6 Shondaland Is A Big, Happy, Married Family
In some ways Shondaland (the production company responsible for Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder, The Catch), is like an extended family. If an actor makes it into one show, there’s a big chance they’ll appear in another. Several actors have appeared in both Scandal and Grey’s, most notably Meredith’s mother and father, played by Kate Burton and Jeff Perry respectively. Both reappeared in Scandal, the former as Cyrus Beene and the latter as Sally Langston. But did you know that there’s also a real life married couple in Shondaland? That’s right, Scott Foley (aka Jake Ballard) and Marika Dominczyk who recently snagged the role of Dr. Eliza Minnick in Grey’s Anatomy have been married for 15 years. Mind blown.
5 The Navy Jumper Only Comes Out In Specific Instances
All Gladiators sense that something is wonky when Fitz brings out his old Navy sweater. This is not some sort of trick but an intentional bit of direction from the very top. It was Shonda that put in the script for the costume department that when Fitz is stressed out about Olivia, he wears his Navy shirts. This small detail, that fans may or may have not noticed over the years, packs a punch. As you can recall, it was while Fitz was being all Top Gun in the Navy when he shot down the plane that Olivia’s mother was in. An event that changed Liv’s life and his own. Seem the Navy jumpers come out as a way to subtly remind the viewer that this relationship is doomed. Either way, we think Fitz looks might fine in them.
4 ABC Wanted Connie Britton To Play Olivia Pope
Look, we love Connie Britton as much as the next person, but we can’t imagine anyone else playing Pope other than Kerry Washington. Turns out ABC executives could! After giving the green light for the pilot episode to be filmed execs, assuming the character was white, proposed the Nashville and American Horror Story actress be offered the part. It wasn’t until Shonda Rhimes had to spell it out to them that ahem Pope is a black woman ahem that ABC came on board. Intriguingly, execs also wanted the whole President is having an affair thing removed from the script completely. In a quote that we can imagine Pope giving herself, Rhimes told them, “In episode six or seven, this woman is going to have sex with the president in the Oval Office on the desk. So if everyone can’t get behind that, then we shouldn’t make this show.” Are we sure Pope isn’t based on Rhimes?
3 The Address For Pope & Associates Is Real
Did you notice that in the second season of Scandal, we’re given the address for Pope and Associates. And it’s a real address. You won’t find any suspicious vehicles around 1970 K Street, Washington DC 20006 but you’ll see a caterer, deli, and law firm. #yawn If that is anti-climatic, turn your attention to L.A. As Scandal is actually filmed in Los Angeles, you can visit the office building that you see in almost every episode. Liv’s “office” is actually the top floors of the Palace Theatre, located at 630 S. Broadway. While the venue is open to the public when it hosts events, those floors are closed off. You could take a selfie from street level though. Pro-tip from Travel + Leisure: Go to the east side of Broadway, between 6th and 7th streets, because that’s the direction it’s shot in for the show.
2 It’s Getting Harder To Separate Fiction From Reality
The trick to writing the highly dramatic and nutso plots of Scandal is easy: read the news. As Rhimes told Entertainment “We try to stay up with everything both conservative and liberal and then try to extrapolate it to its most crazy degree.” But as the team was planning and writing the second half of season 6, reality became stranger than fiction. News of potential Russian influence into the election was revealed as Donald Trump became President. “We literally had a storyline where the Russian government was trying to destabilize the United States government by messing with the election.” she said. The writers had to rethink both the major arcs of the season as well as the climate that these episodes would be received in. With bombshell after bombshell hitting the news every day, it seems that Scandal might have to work overtime to stay clear of becoming a docu-series in it’s final season.
1 Shonda Doesn’t Know How It’ll End
That’s a wrap, folks. Season 7 will be the final season of Scandal. As Mellie inches closer and closer to a White House takeover, we can’t help but wonder how it’ll all end. For years, Rhimes has told reporters that she knows exactly the way the series will take its final bow. But recently she told the Hollywood Reporter, "Any of the stories we planned now just feel like we're copying what's happening in reality, which is insane. I used to know how it ended, and then Donald Trump was elected. We had a destination, and I don't know if that's our destination anymore." Of course, fan theories abound: Will Olivia and Jake stand together in the sun? Will Olivia and Fitz move to Vermont and make jam? Will Olivia finally win an election without rigging voting machines or killing of presidents-elect? Or will everyone die in an attack on Congress only for us all to discover that this has been the prequel to Designated Survivor all along? As of yet, it seems no-one has the answers, not even the showrunner. But we can’t wait to tune in again every Thursday next fall to find out.