Scandal closed up shop over two years ago, but it's a show that will forever be ingrained in the minds of television lovers.
One question that still comes up years after the series premiere is which leading man was the better choice for the leading lady, Olivia Pope. Were you Team Fitz or Team Jake?
Both men were deeply flawed, but there's a case to be made for both, and our TV Fanatics Jasmine Blu and Whitney Evans, got together to debate which leading man reigned supreme.
Jasmine: Why do you think President Fitzgerald "No Eyebrows" Grant is superior?
Whitney: First of all, I will ignore that dig because it's true. But, when it comes to President Fitzgerald's superiority, no matter what was happening and whatever craziness was being thrown at him (and he and Olivia together), he always loved Olivia. He showed that he was willing to put Olivia first.
He was ready to give up his presidency for her, and he had a long-term plan for their future. His love for her was always important to him and something he was willing to fight for.
On the flipside, there's Jake. So, let's hear why he's supposedly the better choice.
Jasmine: I did love some Fitz, too. I'm not going to lie. And I don't deny that he loved Olivia.
But Jake is superior because he not only loved Olivia, but he knew her. He knew all of her and accepted it. Jake could handle all sides of Olivia, whether she was fierce and badass, or vulnerable, or downright bad. He could roll with any and every variation of her.
And as sweet as Fitz's jam fantasy was, it never felt realistic or true to Olivia. It wasn't a plan; it was a fantasy. I feel like Jake saw Olivia for who she was, and he didn't shy away from any of that, and so his simple "stand in the sun with me" felt more real.
Also, Jake was a ride or die for Olivia and would follow her to the depths of hell, so whatever her plans were, he was the guy who would always be by her side, and I don't think Fitz could handle that.
Whitney: I don't know if he could have handled it either, but it's because he always wanted more for Olivia. He saw her potential and what she could be, and he always wanted her to be the best version of herself. Isn't that what a partner should do?
Fitz was better with Olivia. She made him better. And I think Olivia was also a better person when she was with Fitz.
Perhaps, Fitz lived in la-la land sometimes when it came to his visions of jam and small-town life, but he wanted that peaceful existence with her. Meanwhile, Jake was out killing people...
Jasmine: Olivia's entire squad and family were a bunch of killers. It's hardly an indictment for this show or the people in Olivia's life.
I do agree that Olivia made Fitz a better person. I don't agree that she was better with him, though.
I think a partner should encourage you to be the best version of yourself while maintaining your own identity, but it often felt like Fitz wanted Olivia to be his best version of herself while ignoring fundamental aspects of who she was.
Jake had a realistic view of her. He wanted what was best for her, but he respected her agency and her choices. He challenged her often, too.
He always had her back, but he didn't hesitate to call her out. Their relationship, most of the time, was very balanced.
Jake was better for, and with Olivia because he gave her space to be strong-willed and powerful. She could come to grips with all of her identity while with him without having to walk beneath a shadow of someone else's expectations.
Also, yes, Fitz and Olivia had some smoldering scenes, but Olivia and Jake's scenes were HOT. That chemistry just hit different.
Whitney: That's true that Olivia's squad and family were killers, but in my opinion, that was Jake's entire identity. What else is there to Jake outside of him being a killer?
I don't think Fitz had an unrealistic view of her, though. He always loved the different versions of Olivia. It wasn't like the love stopped when she made choices he didn't agree with.
I think the love Fitz had for her alone made him the better choice. I think they brought a great balance to one another. Those moments when they would stand together in silence, just breathing one another in, were so poetic because they grounded one another.
There was a safety there that Olivia never really had with anyone else.
And I'm going to ignore you trying to compare Olivia and Fitz's chemistry to Olivia and Jake's because there is just no contest. We don't need to go scene by scene here, but Olitz have some of the sexiest on-screen romps of all time.
Have we forgotten all about Fitz's throaty "Hi"? It's one of the biggest staples of the whole show! Their chemistry is unmatched.
Jasmine: And I'm going to ignore you reducing my guy to just a killer. He was more complex than that and proved so over the years. I also think that and his position under Eli, who fostered that in him and exploited it, is just one of many ways he was better equipped to understand Olivia.
They didn't have long moments of silence where they breathed on each other, which, they were meaningful scenes, I won't deny that, but Olivia and Jake could have whole conversations and get each other with just a look. Those soulful glances were meaningful, too.
I think Fitz's love for her often was based on his terms. That same love caused him to be controlling with her and emotionally manipulative with her, too.
I think Olivia had moments of escapism with Fitz. In those moments, the rest of the world disappeared, and it was just them. I think Olivia had safety with Jake. He's who she could call on and rely on her to keep her safe. He's who she could trust with her vulnerability both physically and emotionally.
His presence in her life (thanks to Fitz and Rowan being as controlling as they are protective, I might add) revolved around making her safe and making her feel safe. He never really stopped doing that. Hell, his end of life in prison was in part because of him protecting her.
I'm not denying Olitz have some steamy romps. I'm just saying Olake was hot, too. He's the one who makes her moan, Whitney!
He still gave Fitz a run for his money without special swelling music and "Hi" gimmicks, and no one else did, so I respect that.
Whitney: I'm sorry, but Jake came across as very one-note. I'm sure he was complex but did the man ever have fun? What excited him?
When I think of Olivia and Jake in the future, I see sexy times and boring dinners. When I think of Olivia and Fitz, I see snuggles on the couch, reading the paper together, debating politics, sexy times, and then a midnight snack of toast with strawberry jam.
There are many reasons why Olivia never allowed herself to go all the way in with Jake because he just simply wasn't her person. He wasn't the man she saw forever with because he didn't make her feel the way Fitz did.
I understand the narrative surrounding Fitz being controlling, and I won't defend it, but I won't get on board with the notion that Jake didn't control Olivia in different ways as well. He was far from this saint, who rode in on his B613 horse and saved Olivia from the big bad Fitz.
Jake was an okay love interest, but much like Edison, he was never going to be the one.
Jasmine: Maybe he had fun when Olivia Pope and Associates took a vacation to Disney World between murders, fixing, and saving the republic. Olivia, murder, and becoming free and better excited him.
Really? I see traveling the world, going on adventures, and sexy times. And how boring can dinners be when they're filled with fun innuendo? I think that Olitz visual would be too routine and boring for Olivia after a while.
I would contest Jake not being her person, too. While I do think Olivia was consumed by Fitz. They were consumed with each other in a way that often came at the expense of everyone else, including each other sometimes, and it all depends on how you would define "person."
One of the things that stood out about Jake was that he and Olivia had a friendship, too. He was her confidant and friend. She didn't let Quinn, or Abby, or Huck, or anyone saves maybe Steven in the same way she did Jake because she was intent on being strong and in control around them.
I think on that alone, Jake was her person because as such he could fill various roles, not just one.
Jake made Olivia feel different than her feelings for Fitz, but different isn't bad. I feel removing the Scandal of it all, on paper, Olake was much more grounded and real. The all-consuming love that Olitz had is actually disquieting in comparison.
Jake was somewhat controlling sometimes, but Olivia had most of the control there. He wasn't afraid to relinquish it, and if anyone was the controlling one in their relationship, it was actually Olivia.
And he wasn't a Saint, at all, but he owned that and stood in it. I like Fitz, but he rarely owned who he was and his actions or missteps. He wanted the cloak of being the "good one" even when he wasn't necessarily "good" all the time. I loved Jake's realness in that regard.
Whitney: Oh, where to start.
I think boring Jake relied too much on Olivia to bring him what little excitement he ever seemed to get. He had nothing of his own. And in the long run, Olivia wasn't going to be able to fill that role forever.
I define "person" as a lover, friend, the one who knows you, and the one you want to spend all the rest of your days with. That was Fitz. Olivia was consumed with Fitz, and Fitz was consumed with Olivia. The same can't be said for Olake.
Jake was there, he was special, but was theirs an all-encompassing love story that set the world on fire? Absolutely not.
Olivia confided in Fitz, too. They had a relationship that almost couldn't be explained in words. Even when they were dating, it was more than that. Their connection transcended the standard friendship Olivia and Jake had at times.
Fitz struggled overall with really being in touch with who he was as a person. A lifelong struggle for him. But he knew himself best when he was with Olivia.
I ask you this. If Jake was the better choice, why was Olivia never able to fully commit to him and stand in the sun?
Jasmine: I can agree that he relied on Olivia a lot, but also given his background, it made sense that he did. Being part of Olivia's world expanded his world a bit. He lived a hell of a life that was filled with excitement before her, but Olivia got him closer to a life outside of being at the mercy of Rowan.
The consumption was there, I just don't think that's necessarily ideal or healthy, so I was fine that Olake weren't consumed with each other. A love story that sets the world on fire is good for the people in it, but the rest of the world is still scorched because of it.
Olitz's love came with so many casualties, hell, the man foolishly went to war for her. That sucks for everyone else.
I think Olitz catapulted right into this extreme love story from the second they met, so they never actually got to be friends. I just never felt that aspect of their relationship at all. And because of that, it rarely felt like they truly knew each other or were friends.
To be fair, Olivia was never fully able to commit to anyone, though. Not romantically. Even with everything Fitz was to her, I can't say she could truly commit to him either.
Isn't that part of why their end was so open-ended? Do you think she could ever commit to Fitz for good, and they lived happily ever after despite their long journey and all the things that happened before they got to that point?
Whitney: I don't think being consumed with each other was wrong, though, because they never ventured into unhealthy co-dependence. Their love was consuming, but it was a piece of their lives, not the only thing that defined them.
I think they did have a friendship, it was just overshadowed by everything else. And by nature of their respective jobs, they were never going to be able to grab a beer and just hang out on a Saturday night. But they went to each other for advice at times and provided comfort to one another. I think that shows there was a friendship there.
I think the ending left them in the best possible place to have a real relationship. They were both free to leave DC behind if they wanted to try something else away from the Oval office.
Whether or not they would have lasted the next forty years in bliss, I don't know. But I do think they would have tried and I do believe that's what they both wanted and something they owed it to themselves to explore.
My heart says they're still together, sipping coffee and doing crossword puzzles on Sunday mornings.
Jasmine: Interesting. I do feel like when they were together, that's what defined them. Olitz became their entire life, and Fitz's marriage with Mellie and his presidency, and even the country would suffer for that.
And Olivia would get lost when it came to Fitz too. And her friendships, and business, and even herself... she compromised and would suffer for that. Maybe they weren't codependent per se, but it wasn't necessarily healthy either.
I love how hopeful and optimistic you are about Olitz, though. Even without Jake factored in, and I can admit that he's no longer a factor with that ending, I never envisioned that for Olitz.
Ironically, I do think Olivia and Jake could have fallen into something comfortable with each other. Maybe not 40 years of bliss, but something grounded.
So, I'm assuming I haven't convinced you that Jake is superior then?
Whitney: Scandal was deeply flawed, but I loved it nonetheless. And I always felt they were telling us a love story that was FAR from perfect, but a love story all the same. And in my mind, that love story extended beyond that closing shot.
I can be convinced of a lot, and I'll be the first to admit that Fitz had a lot of flaws. But when it's a competition between Fitzgerald Grant III and Jack Ballard, Fitz wins every single time!
Jasmine: I agree that it was a fantastic show even in its flaws. There's nothing quite like it, and I doubt there ever will be.
I actually think that's why we differ. I never viewed it as a show about a love story. I always felt it was about Olivia coming to grips with herself, so I was never sold on a happily ever after with Olitz. It never felt true to her journey to me.
But in a competition between Fitzgerald Grant III and Jake Ballard, my heart always belongs to Jake. I'm standing in the sun!
Let us know in the comments which side you fall on!
Whitney Evans is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.
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