"Scandal" -- "Happy Birthday, Mr. President"
Have you ever rooted so badly for an extramarital affair to happen?
"Scandal" fans everywhere pray that Olivia (Kerry Washington) and Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) will end up together ... so essentially we are all crossing our fingers that a man divorces his wife (who just had his baby) and lives happily ever after with his mistress. The crazy-sounding premise is why a few people (here's looking at you, Mom) don't tune in to ABC's hit show. Sure ... it does sound insane, but once you start watching you just get it. So how does "Scandal" and "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes pull it off, exactly?
At Thursday night's "Scandal" presentation at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, we asked the cast if they have pondered the same thing, and how Rhimes makes us forget our morals for an hour on Thursday nights.
Bottom line: Everyone in the cast is a "Litz" fan, too.
"It's because Fitz and Liv belong together," Tony Goldwyn (Fitz) told Yahoo! TV. "And yet there is poor Mellie sitting there alone! You feel elated for Liv and Fitz and sad for Mellie. It's brilliant writing."
Continued Goldwyn: "But life is like that. Sometimes it's a terrible situation to be in — to fall deeply in love with somebody and not be in love with a person who is your partner in life. That is a terrible quandary to be in. Morality aside, Fitz is in that terrible situation. It's not a happy place for any of the three of them."
Watch a scene with Fitz and Liv:
"As a fan of the show, I absolutely root for [Olivia and Fitz]," Bellamy Young (Mellie) told us. "They are adorable!"
"In the pilot [Rhimes] started their relationship at such a close-up. You meet Olivia and Fitz, and they were in true love," continued Young. "They have such chemistry together. You fell in love with them being in love. Then she slowly pulled back and you realized he's married, and she did these things, but you're still left rooting for them. That's life."
"But you aren't meeting [Mellie] and Fitz in our best moment, so you can't say, 'Oh, their relationship is so strong!'" justified Young. "That's life, too. We have an amazing past behind us, but this is an ugly moment and it's complicated."
"It's a great question. Really, how does Shonda do it?" Jeff Perry (Cyrus) wondered. "It's so bizarre. And we're so mad at David Rosen (Joshua Malina), but he's the only one trying to protect you and I as voters. He is the only one who isn't a liar and a cheat and we are mad at him!"
Scott Foley, who plays Olivia's love interest Jake Ballard, was equally stumped when asked about what we are all hoping will happen: "What is wrong with us?"
"I was a fan of the show before I was on it, and as much as I hate to say it now, I was a Litz fan," Foley told us. "Shonda has a way of doing this where someone does something bad and you root for them, then someone does something good and you hate them — like David Rosen."
"You're right. People are rooting for the mistress and the killer," laughed Guillermo Diaz (Huck). "It's so crazy when you think about it, but you can't help but love Olivia because she truly loves Fitz."
For what it's worth, Darby Stanchfield, who plays gladiator Abby Whelan, said everyone is equally conflicted when they are on set.
"I have to say that when I watch the show, or even at the table read, I can feel two things at once," she said. "When Bellamy Young is talking with Tony I can think she is the biggest monster and feel bad for her all in one moment. That is complicated and smart. You don't get to rest on your morals with this show."
Guess true love trumps all, right? That, or Shonda Rhimes really is a genius.