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November 18, 2017

‘Scandal’ Cast Talks Normalizing “The Other” And A Happy Ending For The Shondaland Show

As Scandal enters its seventh and final, fans of the Shondaland staple are thirsty for answers. At the Vulture Festival LA, the crowd erupted as nearly the entire cast stepped out on to the stage with hopes of finding out the midseason finale cliffhanger, the show’s journey from season one and whether or not there will be a happy ending — if at all possible.

Scandal took the stage at the Los Angeles debut of the Vulture Festival with a hearty helping of the show’s cast including Kerry Washington, Guillermo Diaz, Darby Stanchfield, Tony Goldwyn, Jeff Perry, Bellamy Young, Scott Foley, Joe Morton, Cornelius Smith Jr., George Newbern, and Josh Molina. Of course, one of the main questions everyone was chomping at the bit at was the fate of Quinn (for the record: Katie Lowes was absent from the panel) for the season finale. More than that, people were wondering about the aftermath of the cliffhanger. When asked, the cast looked at each other in bewilderment or they were just being tight-lipped — it was more likely the former.

Star Washington admits that they are in the middle of shooting saying, “Well, we know what we shot.”

“But we’re not far ahead of what we have seen,” adds Young (a.k.a. Mellie).

Even though the cast didn’t give much in terms of answers, they gave insight to the genuine camaraderie of the cast and crew of the show and celebrated the talent of Shonda Rhimes and the heightened Shakespearian, yet grounded world she creates. More than that, the cast celebrates the differences of others and plugs it into the narrative in such a way that works.

kerry washington joe morton scandal

Vulture Festival

“Shonda does not love the word ‘diversity’,” said Washington. “She talks about replacing it with ‘normalizing.’ You look on this stage and what this cast is made of — a ton of people who society would say belong to a minority or disenfranchised groups whether it’s because of age, sexual orientation, race or gender. There’s two straight white guys on this stage — and that community feels disenfranchised right now.”

She adds, “When you have a lot of people who identify as ‘other’ put together in situations, you’re avoiding the idea of being ‘the only one in the room’. When you’re the only ‘other’ in the room, you don’t get to explore situations of others because you are the only [minority] in the room because you don’t get to enter conversations on how that looks like because your job as the only ‘other’ in the room is to conform. But when you normalize the population you get to explore what difference means and how it feels in the world because ‘other’ becomes normal.”

Going more into how the show is grounded in politics and identity, Smith, who plays Marcus says that he doesn’t know that if he would define the politics of the show in regards to the current climate.

“I think it’s something that we do a disservice to in trying to define,” said Smith. “The characters [Shonda] has and topics she chooses to tackle are relevant to whats going on and we all are here dealing with whats going on in the world and we all have opinions about it.”

Smith continues, “What is great about the show is that she allows us to maybe dive in a little bit from a different point of view that some share and some do not and we learn from that and hope to have some empathy for someone who is different from us. Shonda finds a way to mold that again and again and keep it relevant. In this moment we try to do the best with what we know and to get more information so hopefully, we can get more information and make better decisions going forward.”

Vulture Festival

As the series winds down, the cast is trying not to say good-bye. As Stanchfield, who plays Abby, points out, “We still have four months — we’re not saying good-bye yet!” Even so, the cast addresses if there will be a happy ending — if that is even possible considering the characters and the circumstances.

“Do these horrible people deserve a happy ending?” laughs Goldwyn.

“I’m hoping for a ‘red wedding 2′” jokes Molina.

“If it does happen, they are going to have to earn it — a redemption has to take place in order for it not to be an old-fashioned, contrived happy ending,” said Goldwyn.

“Happy endings can’t be the same for all of us,” adds Morton. “Whatever Shonda and the writers come up with, it may be satisfying for some of us but certainly not all of us.”

“Shonda will be happy,” Washington chimes in. “I don’t know if anyone will be happy with the ending, but I know Shonda will be!”

Scandal returns Jan. 18 on ABC.

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