There is absolutely no denying that Mellie Grant is not a perfect human. Neither is her husband Fitz, or even ‘Scandal’ hero Olivia Pope for that matter. But last night’s painful, disturbing episode proved once and for all that we’ve all been way too hard on Mellie. It’s time to shut. It. Down.
Bellamy Young‘s Mellie Grant has done some pretty horrible things during her tenure on Scandal. She’s tampered a presidential election, manipulated her husband for their mutual political gain and (gasp!) even had the audacity to react imperfectly when her husband humiliated her via multiple public affairs. But the Nov. 14 episode, “Everything’s Coming Up Mellie,” did a phenomenal job in finally humanizing her character — and I, for one, am really hoping that the tides of public opinion begin to turn in Mellie’s favor.
Mellie Grant Has Sacrificed Everything
I know what you’re going to say: Mellie is absolutely responsible for her own choices, and she did not in any way need to give up her promising law career to become a political wife. But at the time — in those early years we saw via flashback — she thought that being one half of a power couple was her ticket to creating real, positive social change. And it didn’t help that the maniacally evil, yet still somehow lovable, Cyrus (Jeff Perry) manipulated her into thinking she couldn’t have her man and her job. Cyrus told Mellie that her ticket to positive change was accepting a life of servitude (and quiet desperation?), and she bought it all hook, line and sinker.
Now, countless real-life women in the 15 years since have proved Cyrus’ theory wrong — but at this point in Mellie’s life, she’s already made her bed. She’s sacrificed pro-bono cases for dirty diapers, a promising career for a life as The Good Wife. She accepted a life that did not suit her without realizing the implications, and the resulting perpetual unhappiness has ruined her already shaky marriage.
Was this her choice? Yes. Does she still deserve our sympathy? Absolutely.
Despite Mellie’s extraordinary life circumstances, her plight is actually very ordinary. Countless women give up promising careers for their marriages, and when they get burned as Mellie has, we feel for them. Yes, she’s more fortunate than your everyday Jane Doe, and could support herself as a single woman. But having to give up a life you’ve built for multiple decades — a life you’ve sacrificed everything for — sounds terrible. Mellie’s choice is far from easy.
About That Rape…
Of course, last night’s major shock came when Fitz’ father, aka Mellie’s father-in-law, raped her during the early days of their marriage. Her face during that scene spoke volumes — it was heartbreaking, and you knew the entire time that this horrible crime would go unpunished. She just lied there, accepted it and silently contemplated her next move. It was horrifying, and unfortunately, all too real.
Instead of taking legal action — which would have been nearly impossible given the ruthless, powerful status of her rapist — Mellie gave up that first essential piece of her soul when she used the rape as leverage to help her husband’s relationship with his father. It wasn’t a completely selfless act — repairing this relationship led to Fitz’ first campaign — but it was the first in a long line of Mellie completely sacrificing her own needs for another person. You could see the shocking, night-and-day difference between the younger, idealistic Mellie in the flashbacks and the tired, broken Mellie in the present, especially in the scenes where she tried to “fake it” in front of the cameras, which is why I was so glad to see her finally make this speech to Fitz:
If you knew the sacrifices that I have made, the things that I have given up, the pieces of myself that I have given away for you … and you treat me this way? You declare war on me, and you shame me, and you make me beg for scraps when I have done nothing but fight for you. You don’t have to love me, but we are in this hell together and the flames are burning both of us with equal intensity, baby, so the least you could do is be my friend. Just a little bit. The least you could do is show up.
At the end of the day, Mellie Grant is still a very flawed person. But hey, so is Olivia, and we all find it very easy to love her unconditionally. Mellie is never going to be Scandal‘s hero, but it’s also due time for fans to let up on the hate and realize that she’s also, by far, not a villain. Just a sad, lonely woman who is trying her absolute best.
Leave Mellie alone.
— Shaunna Murphy