The Season 5 premiere of Scandal, with the Princess Diana-esque story line, was admittedly uncomfortable. But did the show take the comparison too far?
No matter how much time has passed, seeing a death play out on TV that was so similar to the way America’s princess died, still hits right in our hearts. Especially, when you see the body lying wide-eyed on the pavement.
And some viewers were unimpressed.
@shondarhimes tasteless Princess Diana rip off
— Karen McCluskey (@ikarenmccluskey) September 25, 2015
@ScandalABC EVERYONE in their 40s and 50s should be completely missed off at using Princess Diana AGAIN in this way!! THAT was HORRIBLE!
— Isabo Salem (@IsaboSalem) September 25, 2015
— Peter Wu (@Liverpotlian) September 25, 2015
— Faith Nicole (@faithnicole80) September 25, 2015
But the show came full circle by not just making it about Princess Diana and the conspiracies around her death. The episode took the comparison to a whole new level by making it about the unrealistic standards women have for finding their happily-ever-after.
If Scandal had only focused on the comparisons to Princess Diana’s death then, yes, it would have been insensitive.
Rather, the show applied that widely known tragedy to a much-needed lesson by showcasing the downside of fame. Scandal‘s Princess Emily proved that the perfect “fairy tale” little girls were taught is far from happily-ever-after. Finding true happiness is so much deeper than a prince and marriage. Thank goodness!
Unfortunately, for Princess Emily, her real dreams were cut short.
But we, as viewers, hear the message loud and clear.
And, as Shonda Rhimes spelled it out in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, “It was so interesting for me to discover that audiences, especially women, are so conditioned to believe that there’s a singular fairy tale that nobody stops to think that that might not be the definition of happiness.”
So rather than conforming to traditional TV standards, Rhimes is breaking them. And Season 5, Episode 1 of Scandal is a big introduction into that realization.
So was it uncomfortable to see the Princess Diana parallels?
Was it uncalled for?
Just the opposite, in fact.
That discomfort broke down our preconceived boundaries of what a perfect relationship looks like and then set the stage for a true and messy story to unfold in Season 5 — one that we hope is between Olivia (Kerry Washington) and Fitz (Tony Goldwyn).
Of course, thanks to Rhimes and her #TGIT on ABC, we are quickly learning that true love doesn’t need a significant other involved at all. All you need is yourself.