During its Season 6 premiere on Thursday night, ABC’s Scandal presented an election night scenario which, in these delicate times, perhaps raised an eyebrow or two — especially if it had aired as originally scheduled, one the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Soon into the season opener, which was filmed six months ago, it was revealed that Pennsylvania Governor Francisco Vargas had eked out a win over Senator Mellie Grant, putting him on the path to become the 45th President of the United States. But during his acceptance speech, the unanticipated president-elect was assassinated.
When TVLine asked ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey if the episode’s potentially inflammatory, election-themed twist played any small role in the decision to postpone ABC’s #TGIT line-up, to the Thursday after Trump’s inauguration, she waved off the idea.
“Here’s the thing: It is a fictional story about fictional characters in a fictional world, that very much builds off of everything we did in Season 5,” Dungey said, echoing that which Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes said during the drama’s recent TCA press tour panel.
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With a nod to Vargas’ slim, briefly contested win over the female presidential candidate, Dungey continued, “that’s a very weird similarity [to Trump/Clinton], but the similarities end there, in terms of who’s a part of what party, in terms of Vargas being a Latino governor…. On the surface there are a few similarities, but really, when you look at it closely, there are not.”
Returning to the tragic assassination itself, Dungey pointed out, “That’s an inciting incident that’s about plot. Because what the episode is about is something completely different. It’s about Cyrus’ complicity, or not, [in his running mate’s murder]. So while I feel like, ‘Sure, there’s a tiny bit of an eerie something,’ the story we’re telling is a very different story. Again, it’s a fictional story in a fictional universe. And it’s a great story for Scandal.”