Admittedly, I have stopped watching Scandal. My wife is still going strong, checking in weekly on Olivia and the crew. I ask her to give me a CliffsNote version of episodes, so I can spend my time doing things I deem—well, more productive. Though I haven’t watched a full episode in months, the basic themes in the show remain. People still talk frustratingly fast. Olivia still has daddy issues. The camera bulb flash still happens between scenes. And B-613 is still the most unrealistic government organization in television history.
In its almost two year run, Scandal has taught us some lessons about ourselves. I’ve come up with three that all warrant reflection.
1. We Have An Inner Longing To Be Fixed
I have a ton of Christian friends who watch Scandal. But I also have Hindu, Muslim, atheist, and agnostic friends who love it too. Every person on this planet has a worldview—a particular philosophy on life or their conception of the world. This worldview is shaped by a lot of factors, both internal and external.
But there’s no denying the fact that a person’s worldview reveals an inner longing, a desire to fix what is broken, to right the wrongs. Shonda Rhimes has capitalized on this subliminal desire to be fixed. Although the show has moved away from the “fix a person a week” theme, Rhimes hooked people based on that inner longing that something in us isn’t quite right—and needs fixing.
Don’t believe me? You’d have a hard time finding someone who doesn’t cringe when they hear about a five year old being raped by an older, adult relative or family friend. Whatever we call it, we know there’s something at work in this world that causes human beings to express our brokenness in unhealthy ways. As subjective and relativistic as our society has become, there’s still a prevailing notion that some things just aren’t right. And I think that notion makes its way into our behavior and patterns. So we line up on Thursday nights hoping to see a wrong righted. Hoping to see someone broken fixed. All humans, regardless of worldview, have that hope.
2. We Expect The Worst In Relationships
Despite our longing to have wrongs righted, we’ve gotten to a point where we expect the worst in relationships. How else can you explain applauding a lead character who is involved in an adulterous affair? Well, at least she’s not… is the phrase that pays. In today’s culture, we are amazed to hear about a couple who has monogamously loved one another for five decades. It’s like a rare artifact found in a desert wasteland of divorce.
I’ve come to the conclusion that some men love this show—though they might not want to admit it in public. They watch the show, listen to the responses of the women in their social media timelines and feed, and take pride in the fact that the “good man” bar has been set pretty low. It cheapens their responsibility. The definition of a good man is limited to a non-adulterer. At least he’s not cheating on me. Because that’s the norm. Faithful is a curse word when it comes to relationships. These men stand and applaud Olivia, Fitz, and others for easing a burden. Women lower their expectations, which in turn causes them to lower their standards. This makes dudes feel like they just opened a new level on Candy Crush (but it’s not candy they’re crushing—it’s…hearts *I decided to go PG here*).
3. We Thrive and Come Alive In Community
There’s one good thing that Scandal has taught us (and can teach the church). Strange things happen on Thursday nights. Gone are the days of sitting in front of the television, unwinding on the couch, and taking in our favorite shows with our immediate family. On Thursday nights, Scandalholics pack social media “stadiums” to cheer on their favorite gladiator. And they let the other fans know about it. I hate Harrison. Huck is nasty. Mellie is ruthless. Others are invited into their living rooms to dialogue with them. And they relish in it. Getting a like on their status or a retweet gives us them that community they all long for.
There’s no other reason people sit in our living rooms with that laptop, tablet, or phone, burning their legs, waiting to post they next thought during the commercial break. It screams something—Community matters! As isolated as these platforms seem on the surface, there is a much deeper communal bond occurring during every major live event—whether it’s the Super Bowl or the Grammy’s.
Maybe, just maybe, some churches should take note. In their ongoing effort to stay relevant, churches can offer the one thing that people are longing for—community. How might the church find its way into the fray, moving from the pew into people’s living room? I think there are about 28 chapters in the Book of Acts that gives us a blueprint. It might be time to dust those Bibles off and BE the church in a world that desperately wants fixing, relationship wholeness, and thriving communities.