The stars and producers of ABC’s political drama Scandal are celebrating the show’s centenary episode and sharing their thoughts about how Donald Trump’s election caused anxiety both on and off the screen.
The series’ creator and executive producer Shonda Rhimes revealed in a lengthy interview with the Hollywood Reporter, that Scandal writers were anticipating Hillary Clinton winning the White House last November.
“There was a very specific planned progression that was going to be easy to tell because Hillary was going to be president, and we were going to be living in the light,” Rhimes said. “But it didn’t occur. I’m still trying to come to terms with that.”
Rhimes — who produced a 12-minute biopic of Clinton’s life, that aired live the Democratic National Convention — laments that life under President Trump is more “outrageous” and “horrifying” than anything she could have created for her primetime political TV show.
“One bad thing after another keeps happening, and the world feels very unstable,” said Rhimes said. “So in a world in which all of the things that we would write on ‘Scandal’ are happening in real life, it’s very hard to write ‘Scandal’ the way we used to, when it was like, ‘Let’s make Washington the most outrageous, horrifying place it could ever be.'”
“Any of the stories we planned now just feel like we’re copying what’s happening in reality, which is insane,” said Rhimes.
Scandal’s star Kerry Washington, who plays D.C.’s powerful political fixer Olivia Pope, said “Now, we have a hard time competing with reality.”
Washington’s character underwent an abortion in a fifth-season episode while the Christmas hymn “Silent Night” play along. On that controversial scene, Rhimes said her most pressing concern was clearing the version of the song that included vocals from legendary soul and gospel singer Aretha Franklin.
“I kept going back to our music supervisor, ‘We sure Aretha Franklin is OK with this?'” Rhimes told THR. “I wanted to make sure Aretha knew what the scene was about. Her people said I was fine and to stop asking. It made me love her forever because then I could be like, ‘Aretha Franklin, who sings a lot of gospel music, is very supportive of this.'”
Scandal co-star Tony Goldwyn, who plays U.S. President Fitzgerald Grant was partially upset about Clinton’s election loss.
“We were all very upset,” Goldwyn said.
Goldwyn, who was giddy to meet Clinton when she visited the Scandal set in Los Angeles last February, was featured in a pro-Hillary Clinton campaign ad and lauded the former Democratic nominee at the DNC.
“We’d worked hard to get Hillary elected.”
— Tony Goldwyn (@tonygoldwyn) February 20, 2016
Rhimes says Scandal in the era of Trump is harder than she had imagined and will be challenging to reconcile going forward.
“Any of the stories we planned now just feel like we’re copying what’s happening in reality, which is insane,” she said. “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.”