The storylines on Scandal have been strangely prescient, in the weird way that film and TV tend to mirror and predict real-life events because life is just an endless programming loop with only so many ideas to go around. To that end, Kerry Washington and Shonda Rhimes have both commented on Scandal’s eerie likeness to reality.
The most visible reflection of art imitating life imitating art is in Scandal’s presidential candidate Hollis Doyle, a Trump caricature who’s colorful in the most disastrous way. The show’s fifth season, which premieres January 26, takes place on election night and, according to Washington, “In the first 10 minutes, you will find out who won and who lost.” Does this mean Doyle becomes president? Sounds likely.
“We shot the episodes way before the real election,” Washington said on Tuesday’s Ellen Show (toward the end in the clip below). “But it’ll be hard to believe that we didn’t know about our election, because it’s so surreal what happens on the show.”
Even crazier is what doesn’t happen. There was a storyline involving Russian hackers that Shonda Rhimes chose not to develop. “Shonda was thinking about doing a Russian hacking story toward the end of the season, which we had to scrap,” says Washington. “Because it used to be that Scandal was this crazy show that was outside the realm of possibility,” she jokes.
As Rhimes told Entertainment Weekly earlier this month, “We literally had a storyline where the Russian government was trying to destabilize the United States government by messing with the election... The writer’s room was full of people staring at the board going, ‘Oh, my God.’ It comes from the fact that we all read all the papers, we’re all paying attention to the news. We try to stay up with everything both conservative and liberal and then try to extrapolate it to its most crazy degree. Unfortunately, reality is extrapolating itself to its most crazy degree right now.”
Reality is definitely extrapolating itself! Make it stop! (Sidebar: Is Shonda a god?) Rhimes says the writers considered, “How dark do you want to be at a time when people aren’t feeling so happy? I think there are things that hit very close to home that I certainly never anticipated. I just don’t think that I thought that we would be in this mood.”