Rooting for or even liking the main characters isn’t synonymous with condoning all of their decisions. As working black women with strong work ethics and charming personalities, they are relatable or aspirational. They also have beautiful homes, fancy wardrobes and accessories, enviable figures and strong friendships. When viewers declare Olivia or Mary Jane their “spirit animal,” that’s probably what they are cheering for rather than condoning adultery.
As I’ve said in defense of Olivia Pope before, it’s also important to realize that, for viewers, being entertained by the ongoing dramas of fictional characters is not the same as wanting to see those experiences play out in their own lives or the lives of anyone they know. Several million people will inevitably tune in for the upcoming premiere of the fourth season of The Walking Dead. That doesn’t mean they are hoping for a zombie apocalypse.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life and the upcoming Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.