When it comes to hard-hitting primetime dramas full of twists and turns, Shonda Rhimes is leading the pack. While Grey’s Anatomy may be the creator’s longest-running show and newcomer Bridgerton is grabbing a lot of the current headlines, Rhimes has made some other notable and impressive hits along the way.
Scandal remains one of Rhimes’ most shocking and talked-about shows, and Olivia Pope has gone down in pop culture history as one of the most impressive characters in a TV show.
Kerry Washington’s portrayal of the political “fixer” definitely stole the show, but the series featured a deep bench of talented actors, and two of them were returning to the set after multiple times of working together in the past.
‘Scandal’ took on political drama
Scandal premiered in 2012, and it took Rhimes’ signature twists and turns and placed them in a new setting — the White House. The show revolves around Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), a talented, fast-talking “fixer” whose job combines a lot of skills to clean up the messes of the powerful politicians who typically employ her.
Formerly, Olivia had worked as a White House Communications Director, and it was in that role that she began an illicit affair with Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn), the President of the United States.
Olivia has tried time and again to pull herself out of the toxic relationship, but her love life gets increasingly complicated as more secrets from her past bubble up to the surface. Meanwhile, the other people working on her team now that she’s started her own public relations firm are all hiding secrets of their own.
The tangled webs get almost unbelievably complex, but it makes for excellent television. The series kept viewers glued to the screens for its entire seven-season run before wrapping up in 2018.
Tony Goldwyn and Kate Burton filled the executive office
In order to have such a complex web of drama, you need complex characters with plenty of backstories and a lot of screen time. Olivia Pope was undoubtedly the star of the show, but it took a talented and diverse cast to make that star shine so brightly.
The cast — who really bonded on the set and remain close — had to convincingly pull off a range of complex emotions rooted in their dependence upon and betrayal by one another. Much of that drama centered around the highest office in the land, and it was filled by Tony Goldwyn’s portrayal of President Grant.
Rounding out the executive office was Sally Langston, the Vice President who has a fervent right-wing agenda and has drawn comparisons to real-life politico Kellyanne Conway. In a series where there are few truly “good guys,” Langston stands out as particularly odious and corrupt, and Kate Burton plays the part perfectly.
Tony Goldwyn and Kate Burton worked together before ‘Scandal’
Goldwyn and Burton had a particularly complex relationship on Scandal. Sally Langston had run against Fitzgerald Grant in the primaries and had been an early frontrunner for the presidency, but she agreed to drop out on the condition of being named Vice President and given a Supreme Court pick.
Over the years, it’s clear that she and Grant do not see eye-to-eye, and she eventually runs against him while refusing to vacate the Vice Presidency.
All of these tensions mean that Goldwyn and Burton must do an amazing job of playing out their characters’ frustrations on screen. Luckily, the pair already had chemistry and the experience of working together.
In fact, as Mental Floss reports, they had some seriously dramatic history in their past. In the 1993 film Love Matters, they played husband and wife. Later, they shared the theatrical stage for a production of The Water’s Edge.
In that one, Burton’s character murders Goldwyn’s, which is only slightly more troublesome than the way Langston looks at Grant.