Men Who Love 'Scandal'

His Side: How ABC's prime-time soap is turning guys into "gladiators."

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Scandal may be soap opera-esque in its storytelling, and more women than men may love it, but Rhimes has made gladiators out of a host of men, like Kevin Walker. He's a married man who runs a printing press and is an assistant basketball coach at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C.

During a slow summer day at the office, Walker decided to give the show a shot on Hulu. Four episodes later, he came home to tell his wife about his new favorite show. She was unconvinced, so Walker started season 2 without her, and soon the questions started coming. "She's asking me these questions, and I told her to keep watching," Walker says. "And, bam! She got hooked, looked at me and said, 'I hate you.' "

Hold up.

Hanselman is not sneaking around with another woman like a real-life Fitz. The Web developer is referring to humorist blogger Awesomely Luvvie, a Scandal superfan, and Hanselman's co-host on the podcast Ratchet and the Geek. The two host a biweekly discussion on pop culture, tech and, of course, the latest Scandal episodes. They don't watch the show on a couch together; they do so online through Twitter, which has become the de facto gathering place for Scandal fans.

ABC has proudly touted the show's social media presence. I didn't know "most-tweeted-about television show" was a thing until the network started using it as a selling point. Los Angeles Times TV critic Mary McNamara called the Beltway drama "the show that Twitter built." Without it, the show's profile would not have been boosted, the ratings would have remained flat and Scandal probably would have been canceled.

Twitter actually enhances the Scandal experience for men like Walker. "It's like watching a game at a barbershop," he says. But for Shawn Hardie of Harlem, word on the tweets wasn't as convincing as the word on the streets. Specifically the word from his older brother. "I'd always see people tweeting about it," says Hardie, who came around after the first season. "But my brother mentioned he watched it, and he's not a big television fan, so I had to give it a chance if it was getting his attention."

Like Hanselman, Walker and me, Hardie soon became a fan of a storyline that focuses not only on Olivia (Girl, get it together!) and her litigious misfits (What's up, Huck, Quinn, Abby and Harrison?! Gladiators in the house!) but also on a philandering president (You get it together too, Fitz!), his justifiably evil first lady (Hold your head up, Mellie!) and his sadistic, openly gay chief of staff (Cyrus, you crazy!). With such a complex cast of characters, Scandal has earned the attention of men who watch.

Having a strong African-American male in the cast makes a difference. Hardie's favorite character is Harrison (played by Columbus Short) because "he's the glue of [Olivia's] firm." Walker said he was becoming a fan of Quinn (played by Katie Lowes) by the end of the second season, when Huck (played by Guillermo Diaz), Hanselman's favorite guy, trained her to kill. I myself am always looking for a collection plate whenever Cyrus (played by Jeff Perry) starts seething and preaching at the same time.

But still, nothing can compare to the magic that Rhimes has created with the show's heroine. As Olivia, Washington brings to life a character who is relatable to women and admirable to men. Yes, she is easy on the eyes, but she and everyone else on the show are easy to watch because they are all so entertaining. As beautiful as Washington is, no guy is watching to see Washington strut her stuff. For one, she wears so many white coats.

But more importantly, Olivia's ability to layeth the smacketh down is rare to see on television from a black woman. It is arguably not even something we're used to seeing from white women. Hanselman says that Olivia is more similar to popular alpha males like Tony Stark, the everyday guy who morphs into Iron Man when danger strikes but is still a boss underneath the armor. "There's something about the unapologetic person who says, 'I'm getting what I need, and you can either hop on board or get out of my way,' " says Hanselman. "Olivia has that, and it goes across gender."