The last couple of weeks Lisa Kudrow has been on Scandal. She plays Congresswoman Josephine Marcus who wants to run for President. Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) is helping with her image and her PR.
Their first hurdle was a child the Congresswoman had at age 15. That child, played by Sally Pressman from Army Wives is now 30 years old and thinks she’s the Congresswoman’s sister. Olivia is impressed by Congresswoman Marcus when she owns up to the birth on TV – even though she doesn’t reveal who the child is on TV.
Other hurdles involve the Congresswoman’s basic honesty and her desire not to accept big money contributions with all the strings that come attached to such contributions. Also, Olivia isn’t quite sure the Congresswoman is tough enough to get through a campaign.
Olivia gets the Congresswoman a TV interview with James Novak (Dan Bucatinsky), which is where this scene comes in.
I love so many things about this. I love every word that comes out of Lisa Kudrow’s mouth and the perfect way she delivers the lines. I love the look on Kerry Washington’s face as she listens. I love Shonda Rhimes for writing this and finding such an effective way to say it to the world. I love the way the sister/daughter character thinks she needs to shut the Congresswoman up and I love the way Darby Stanchfield’s character Abby says, “Don’t you dare.”
We may have a woman running for President in 2016. When that woman ran for the nomination in 2008, she faced sexism much more overt than what we saw in this scene from Scandal. That’s another reason why I love this scene. It isn’t about the big gender gaffes that get everyone’s attention. It’s points out the subtle sexism that is so insidious. It points out the quiet sexism that nobody rails against in The New York Times, that nobody editorializes about it in Salon. It’s about the framing: the lovely home, the feminine props with the iced tea – the subtle sexism escapes our overt notice but influences our worldview. It’s about the language: the Cinderella story wording – the subtle sexism doesn’t raise any red flags, but silently shapes our worldview.
Even the title of this clip, “Josi loses her temper on TV,” is sexist. I don’t know who titled it, but it’s not the title anyone would put on a clip like this if a man were pointing out inequality.
Congresswoman Josephine Marcus kicked butt. Lisa Kudrow kicked butt. I speak for every woman on the planet when I say, kick a lot more butt, Congresswoman. Can I vote for a fictional Congresswoman? I sure want to.
A big thank you to Shonda Rhimes for Congresswoman Josephine Marcus and a storyline on Scandal about gender in politics.
As an aside, the Congresswoman created in Scandal reminds me of the truly outstanding political role model in the Danish series Borgen. Once again, I recommend Borgen for your viewing pleasure.