Deep into its tenth season, Grey's Anatomy remains a well-performing prime time network television show, despite its reputation for being a stale, populist soap opera. Meanwhile Scandal, Shonda Rhimes' other baby, has earned much more critical approval. As a fan of both shows, it feels unfair that they are judged so unevenly. As Scandal wraps up its most grandiose, most clutch-the-pearls season yet, it’s worth considering how little really separates Olivia Pope and her DC underworld from Meredith Grey and her quaint Pac-Northwest hospital. They are both lovable, flawed characters taking a rather circuitous route to independence and stability.
Both shows share an affinity for over-the-top disaster plots and heart-wrenching [...]