The intersectional complexity of Olivia Pope: a critical discourse analysis of Scandal
LE3 .A278 2021
Bachelor of Business Administration
The following thesis examines how the popular television series, Scandal, disrupts gendered and racialized expectations of women, allowing for a broader discussion on societal issues. I employ a critical discourse analysis with an intersectional feminist lens to argue that the series engages with gendered and racialized discourses to disrupt societal expectations of women. In exploring this, I examine four main themes found within Scandal: the mistress relationship, the white savior, women’s empowerment, and Blackness within the series. I argue that the mistress relationship between the lead character, Olivia Pope, and the President rejects the Jezebel stereotype and rather, it resembles the autonomy of women in choosing what they desire with their bodies. In the exploration of the white savior, it is revealed that the expectation of having a savior in certain relationships is eliminated in Scandal, freeing both the male and female from societal expectations. Further, the analysis of gendered discourse and women’s empowerment proves to challenge misogyny and highlight certain gendered problems within society. An exploration into the lead character reveals moments of colorblindness within the show, but my analysis demonstrates how other Black characters interacted with Pope to clearly surface questions of intersectionality. I conclude that the complexity of Pope creates a significant advancement for Black women in media through the imperfect portrayal of her character. This thesis rejects the belief that society is in a post-feminist state and urges the reader to incorporate an intersectional feminist lens into their daily discourse.
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