Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Why We Could All Use A Little More Liv in Our Lives: Benson and Pope and Why I Love Them

WARNING: TW Abuse/Sexual Assault, Spoilers regarding Scandal and SVU.

Quick Recap for those of you who aren't as TV obsessed as I am: Olivia Benson(Played by Mariska Hargitay), the lead character on NBC's Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Olivia is a NYPD detective who investigates sex crimes--everything from acquaintance rape to pedophilia. Olivia Pope(Played by Kerry Washington), the lead character on ABC's Scandal. Liv is a Washington DC fixer. Her job, besides having a steamy love affair with the President(Played by Tony Goldwyn), is making her clients scandals disappear.

Both of these characters are caretakers. Their jobs are to make sure that other peoples' problems get solved. Both have a hard time taking time for themselves. Olivia Pope grew up with a mother that was supposedly dead and a father who was absent. Olivia Benson grew up being abused. When the Olivias have bad days, they don't immediately have someone to turn to. Not only do I strongly relate to this, but I think that too often we see television characters who appear perfect, and teenage girls desire to be them because they never fall apart. But these aforementioned characters are not human. Benson and Pope are. The audience sees them cry, screw up professionally and personally, and run their mouths when they shouldn't. I imagine that's why their fans care so much about them.

Both of these characters have demonstrated the great effects that abuse can have on a person. Pope was kidnapped, fearing for her life until a friend came and rescued her. She was beaten and demeaned. Benson was held in a room, tied to the bed with her own handcuffs as a man beat and raped her. Yet, both of these women portrayed strength. The shows did not skirt around the issue. We saw the blood and heard the screams. The flashbacks were painful for me and many others to watch. But it's important to see these things.

Olivia Benson was seeing a therapist for much of Season 15, and I can only hope that Pope gets the help she needs for her PTSD in the upcoming Season 5 of Scandal. For a long time, having to go to therapy was seen as making someone "broken" or "crazy," and watching a popular TV character go through this and get help reduces this horrible stigma.

But beyond all that, the Olivias have taught me that it's okay not to have your life together all the time. It's okay not to be okay. It's a phrase that is wiped from our minds because we have expectations on us. But we're all human. It's okay not to be okay.

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