Home wrecker

As I sat, eating some sushi, I read the Times.

I had reactions to a couple of articles, and thought I’d share just one of them.

Where Mean Girls Rule

“There isn’t a woman in Washington who doesn’t traffic in at least five of the seven deadly sins. Greed, lust, envy, wrath and pride are the currencies of power in the nation’s capital, and some of its most dangerous brokers are women on television.”

The article has a series of photos, underneath which is a caption:

From left: Keri Russell, devious K.G.B. spy on “The Americans”; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, beltway egotist on “Veep”; Kerry Washington, home wrecker on “Scandal”; and Robin Wright, icy schemer on “House of Cards.”

I’ve never seen “Veep” or “The Americans.” I love “House of Cards.” And “Scandal” is like candy to me. I love it. (Incidentally, just the other day I saw Guillermo Diaz in a deli. I love his character in “Scandal,” but it took me a full 30 or 40 seconds to figure out who he was, and why I was feeling simultaneously tender toward and just a little scared of him.) But back to the article. Or really, the caption: “Kerry Washington, home wrecker on ‘Scandal.’”

What the fuck?

I mean, seriously. What. The. Fuck.

Have you ever seen the show? If you haven’t, you’re not missing great TV. It doesn’t have either the caliber of writing or acting that “House of Cards” does, and its aspirations are, honestly, lower: it’s a soap opera, not a drama.

But Kerry Washington – or rather, the character portrayed by Kerry Washington, Olivia Pope, is not a “home wrecker.” I mean, unless all that “home wrecker” means is a woman who has an affair with a married man. Which may well be the case.


1) Olivia Pope tries really hard not to have an affair with the president. She resists his advances. She breaks up with him. She tries at every turn to bring their affair to an end. To be sure, she’s repeatedly unsuccessful, and she does end up repeatedly shtupping him. But give the woman some credit. She’s the one being pursued.

2) I’m not exactly sure how to understand the phrase “home wrecker,” but the president and his wife don’t have any children. (Correction: they have two – but they’re not on the show – they’re away, in boarding school.) And they decide to have a third for political reasons. Whatever “home” it is that Ms. Pope ostensibly is “wrecking” is an emotionally – and sexually – barren partnership with little or no love in it.

Given 1 and 2 above, the phrase “home wrecker” really really rubbed me the wrong way. It felt like a bit of retrograde misogyny, out of place on the front page of the Times Arts section. She’s a private investigator. She has an off-again/on-again affair. With a man who wants to fuck her more than she wants to fuck him.

Home wrecker?

“Home wrecker” is what the betrayed wife calls the brazen hussy who “seduced” her husband and thus entrapped him, forcing him (that poor, weak man, helpless in the face of her raw, untamed female sexuality) to betray her.

It’s a phrase whose time has passed.

(And. Olivia Pope is a character who does a lot of really bad shit. Acceding to the advances of the president? Pretty low on the list.)

Forgive my rant.

(Incidentally, I reacted to other articles too. Nicholas Kristof grossed me out with yet another of his articles about the terrible things that happen to young girls in the world. I’m in favor of stopping terrible things, but I react badly to the proposition that Nick Kristof is making the world safe for young women. This article further develops that brand with its title: ‘Bring Back Our Girls.’

Steven Rattner had a thought-provoking article promoting a really radical – and in my mind, excellent – idea. Which will rub progressives who don’t know anything about tax policy the wrong way, sadly. (Spoiler: the proposal is to eliminate income tax on corporations.)

And there was a big article on rape in “The Game of Thrones,” which made me think people think TV is more important than I think it is.)

There you go. My reaction to today’s paper.


  1. When I started to read your post, I didn’t even make it to the caption and your interpretation of it before I was all riled up. I mean, surely, there are a lot of men in Washington who “traffic in at least five of the seven deadly sins. Greed, lust, envy, wrath and pride” since these are supposedly “the currencies of power in the nation’s capital” and there are more men than women in power. I’m pretty sure that, even if “some of its most dangerous brokers are women”, most of them actually are men, as there are really only two options here. Otherwise it would have stated that ‘the majority of its most dangerous brokers are women…”
    So, if most of the people involved in 5 of the 7 deadly sins are men, why focus on women? Why make it look like they are the ones responsible of all evil?
    Needless to say, I was totally in agreement with the rest of your post. I don’t watch Scandal regularly, but the few episodes I saw depict exactly what you’ve been saying: a man pursuing a woman. NOT the other way around.

      1. Yes, I think the home wrecker got to you more because of things discussed in your Morality post 😉

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