Like most true Scandal fans, I've re-watched both seasons of the show (twice!) in preparation for the glorious even that occurs tonight: the Scandal Season 3 premiere.
Scandal is a show with many, many villains and very few true heroes, and that complexity has appealed to millions of people. The one thing that many people seem to agree on however, is the general terribleness of Mellie Grant, First Lady and wife to President Fitzgerald Grant; the man who is also Olivia Pope's lover.
Audiences see Mellie as the obstacle keeping Olivia from her true love, and a bitch in her own right for her many behind the scenes machinations; both personal and political. But I have sympathy for her. I actually really like Mellie, and I think she's get an unfair level of hate.
Hear me out: Mellie is definitely a problematic, sometimes amoral person. Remember Nobody Likes Babies? But she's not the denizen of evil that people make her out to be. She's a complex character just as much as Olivia is, and she is the best character on the show to me after Olivia. Shonda made sure that even though Mellie is "the villain", she has depth to her and complexity, and it really shows through. So here are four reason why I think You should Mellie Grant a chance this season. (Or at least give her the benefit of the doubt!)
1. She Loves Fitz.
Mellie loves Fitz, to her detriment. God alone knows how or why this man has TWO intelligent, capable and ambitious women completely dickmotized, but he does. Despite Fitz's tantrums, despite his disrespect, despite his affairs, she loves him and stands by him, even though she knows that exposing his adultery would garner her cultural capital she could use to launch her own career. Even after she does give an interview, effectively getting the public on her side, she refuses to leak Olivia's name, because she knows that it will mean Fitz could never forgive her, and in the end, she wants their marriage to be whole again. Mellie does everything in her power to keep Fitz happy, to help him to guide him, and he appreciates none of it. Lord knows I could go on about what's wrong with Fitz, but the real issue is that her love for Fitz, frankly, holds her back. She is devious up until the point where it impacts Fitz, and it continues to be the reason she gets the shit end of the stick.
2. She's Intelligent And Ambitious
Mellie gave up her own career aspirations to be with Fitz, and be his First Lady. There is a delightful scene towards the end of the season where Molivia Nope reads Mellie and makes mention of the "law degree she always mentions but never uses."Mellie didn't need to hitch her wagon to Fitz. She's whip smart and devious, and likely could have made it to the white house on her own. But she chose to set aside her ambitions for his, because she loved and believed in him. She chose to raise their profile together, rather than set out on her own (without Fitz's manchild baggage) because I think, she truly believed in his ability to do good work as a politician. Many of Mellie's little schemes are in direct response to the fact that she can tell Fitz's resolve is waning. He no longer wants the power he spent so long chasing, and Mellie is desperate to get him back to the man she fell in love with.
3. She Doesn't Go Down Without A Fight
The scenes that made me really root for Mellie for the ones in the last two episodes where she refused to buckle to Cyrus' demands. If you think about it, those scenes were all about a scorned wife trying to exact revenge as penance for her broken heart. And honestly? I'm not mad at her. Fitz disrespected her, cheated on her, belittled her, and made a mockery of their marriage. (Remember, "You are ornamental, not functional!"? And let's not forget that Fitz didn't even have the decency to tell her in person that he was choosing Olivia) In those moments, Mellie did what many women wish they had the strength to do; she stuck to her guns. She refused to be bullied, and she recognized that she was the one with the upper hand. I'll admit, I did a little fist bump for her, and those final scenes where Ftiz comes crawling back on his knees? SO satisfying!
4. She Doesn't Delude Herself About Who She Is Or What Her Motivations Are
Finally, Mellie Grant is very simply the most honest person on a show full of people who bend and twist the truth as it suits them. Mellie is political and ambitious and has machinations beyond what any of us can imagine, and she's never been shy about making that clear. With Mellie, what you see is what you get. She doesn't try to make light of her actions or justify her decisions. She is very transparently a "means justify the ends" kind of person, and that's refreshing in a scenario where the goal seems to be to screw over as many people as possible. When it comes to Fitz, Mellie isn't the one who changed in their relationship; he is. He is the one who no longer has the stomach for the work they do, and lashes out at Mellie for being exactly the person she was when they married. Mellie knows where she planned to let their star fall, and it wasn't going to be as a one term President. She's gunning for political longevity, and she's not shy about it.
At the end of the day, Mellie Grant is a spectacular political animal who doesn't need Ftiz. If you ask me, she and Olivia should team up and dump the sucker altogether. What do you think? Are you gonna give Mellie a chance? And will you be watching Scandal tonight? Follow the #Scandal hashtag on twitter for live tweets of the premiere.