The 'Scandal' Effect: Diversifying Prime-Time Television

Kerry Washington (Getty Images)
Kerry Washington (Getty Images)

Clutch magazine's Evette Dionne wonders whether the "Big Three" networks will take the show as a lesson about putting some color in prime-time lineups.

The Big Three (ABC, CBS, and NBC) have notoriously blacklisted brown faces from their primetime lineups. Before Kerry Washington landed the lead role in "Scandal," an African-American woman hadn’t starred in a network drama in more than three decades. It was an instant success.

"Scandal" has averaged more than 3 million viewers each week and tapped the elusive African-American viewing audience. Nielsen reports "Scandal" as the highest-rated drama among the black demographic, reaching 10.1 percent of our households. The groundbreaking show also dominates social media when new episodes air and have ignited academic conversations about the representation of black women in television.

ABC scored an unexpected smash with "Scandal" and broadcast networks are scrambling to emulate their formula. While this is a positive result, which Shonda Rhimes and her team should take pride in snowballing, it is also cause for minor alarm. What happens when "Scandal" ends? Interest will decline at some point as is common with television shows and the network will no longer see the advertising value of the program. A series finale will commence and if other networks haven’t landed hits as successful as "Scandal," will there again be a void of brown faces in primetime?


Read Evette Dionne's entire piece at Clutch magazine.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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