(The Root) — Thursday nights will never be the same (at least until September). After last week's head-exploding closing line — "Dad?!" — fans of ABC's cultural phenomenon Scandal have been left with a gaping hole in their social calendars. What to tweet about? What to actually talk about? What's a gladiator to do without the deliciously over-the-top antics of Olivia Pope and Associates to spice up an otherwise nonscandalous existence?
"I'm thinking about taking up a trade," joked humor writer and blogger Luvvie Ajayi, whose hilarious Scandal recaps are the stuff of Friday morning legend. "Or learning a new language. Or maybe rocking back and forth from withdrawal because it's going to be a long summer."
According to Ajayi, who blogs at AwesomelyLuvvie.com and tweets blow-by-blows of the show to more than 18,000 followers, the show's summer hiatus will give her more than six hours a week of free time. On Thursdays she spends one hour prepping for the show, then there's the hour-long show itself, followed by "two hours of cooling off" and two hours of recap-writing time.
"I have all this extra time on my hands," she said. "Maybe I'll learn to paint."
Every week developer Scott Hanselman joins Ajayi for the podcast "Ratchet and the Geek," covering social media, pop culture and technology. Hanselman, who admits to dipping out of a professional conference early in order to catch last week's season finale live, is a certified Scandal-head.
"I think that we're at the beginning of a golden age of television," he said. "Scandal is just the best. It's a soap, it's a telenovela, it's political scandal, it's the West Wing meets Nikita all in one."
In the downtime, Hanselman plans to catch up on other programs featuring the actors starring in his favorite show. "Surprisingly, a large number of them have worked together before, because [Scandal creator and showrunner] Shonda Rhimes pulls from a pool. It's an incestuous crowd at best. There was a time when there was two weeks of no Scandal when I went and got Django Unchained so that I could see something with Kerry Washington in it."
Fellow professional Scandal watcher Danielle Henderson, who blogs for New York Magazine, plans to cycle back through the show's last three seasons in the hopes of picking up crumbs she might have missed.
"It's such a smart show; I want more time to look for clues Shonda Rhimes may have dropped, or to just relive the more tense and shocking moments," said Henderson, the author of the former blog and book, Feminist Ryan Gosling.
"I also want to re-examine my relationship with Fitz. Is he more nuanced than I give him credit for?" asked Henderson, a Ph.D. candidate in Communication and Media Studies at University of Washington Seattle, referring to the show's fictional president of the United States. "Or is he truly the tantrum-prone man-child I think he is?"
For beauty blogger SanTara Cassamajor time off from Scandal could mean more quality time with her husband, who regularly teases that on Thursdays his wife is too busy with Olivia Pope and company to pay him any attention.
"I guess I'll actually be looking at my husband when he talks to me during that hour," said Cassamajor. "He says, 'Your eyes go from the TV to the computer, from the TV to the computer.' I tried one day to look at him during Scandal but I just couldn't do it."
Cassamajor says she created the now ubiquitous Thursday night Twitter hashtag #ScandalParty.
"It's the only nonofficial hashtag that has trended outside of ABC's 'AskScandal,' " she said. "I've never missed a week. I've been hooked since the very first episode of the first season."
And for those who think these withdrawal symptoms are much ado about nothing, the gladiators on deck don't have time for that.
"People joke about Scandal being lousy," said Hanselman, "but it's unapologetic in its brazenness. We get that it's unrealistic, and that's why it's awesome."
With its over-the-top plot lines laced with fast-paced dialogue, plus the added rush of fans' live tweeting, Scandal is nothing short of addictive.
"It's this weird feeling because we know it's not coming back in three weeks," Cassamajor sighed. "Have we ever seen anything in the history of television do this to people?" To get through the summer hiatus she plans on creating a new hashtag — #ScandalRehab.