The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday June 6th

Farewell Column: Thank you, Olivia Pope

When it was announced that "Scandal" would air its final season in spring of 2018, graduation seemed even more daunting.  Not only would I have to leave university, but I would also have to leave behind a character that has shaped my personal development, Olivia Pope. 

I started watching "Scandal" during the winter break of my first year, and I’ve been hooked ever since. As a global studies major, I was instinctively wrapped in the political happenings of the show.

And in one character, I saw a woman who exemplified conviction and class, no matter how difficult the situation was. “It’s handled,” she would say to her clients — so effortlessly that I wondered why I didn’t have a catchphrase like that. 

Olivia Pope epitomized everything I wanted to be — strong, successful, quick-witted and so sure of herself. Her colleagues looked up to her for always wearing the white hat, for always wanting to be their gladiator even when she didn’t have to be. Even the president of the United States in the show couldn’t outshine her — Olivia controlled Washington and controlled the hearts and minds of those around her.

And suddenly, just as quickly as I had glorified her, I then saw her tragic flaws as a human. She was power-hungry, and as the seasons went on, she betrayed her closest friends just to save face. Olivia began to use people for her own personal gain, even when she claimed it was for the benefit of others. Olivia couldn’t be vulnerable because, simply put, she was Olivia Pope.

Olivia began to see that people were inherently evil, and that you can’t change hearts. Likewise, as I began to learn more about myself and the way the world works, both through my studies and personal life, disillusionment hit me. The world would always be bad, I thought. People can’t change. And Olivia Pope, my idol, backed me up.

However, "Scandal" also taught me that that isn’t the point of life, or university. Early on in the show, Rowan Pope, Olivia’s father and sometimes arch enemy, gave one of the best speeches in "Scandal" history about what she is fighting for. Olivia asks her father, “I don't know what the point is of this, of democracy and freedom and patriotism. If there are no white hats. If everyone is evil. If the deck is always stacked. If everyone I love is a monster. If no one is worth saving. What's the point?” Her father responds, “ If there are no more white hats, if the deck is always stacked, and if everyone you love is a monster, there is, in fact, someone worth saving… Everyone is worth saving. Everyone. In the face of darkness, you drag everyone into the light. That is the point. At least I'd like to think that is the point of you.”

The world is cruel and tough. Even without formally entering it yet, it seems terrifying. We hear from our professors, parents, relatives, bosses, etc. that the world isn’t going to play nice with us. But, if we can all live it as ferociously and justly as Olivia Pope, that might make all of us the gladiators the world needs. 

So, "Scandal" will finish around the time of graduation, and Olivia Pope and I will carry on with our lives never meeting each other. Because the show hasn’t ended yet, I’m not quite sure where Olivia Pope will end up. And, similar to Olivia once again, I’m not quite sure where I will end up either. But, if I can walk with the backbone and certainty in myself that Olivia walks with, I know everything will be just fine.

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