As anyone who has watched just five minutes of the crazy-popular ABC dramaScandal can tell you, the series is brimming with whiplash story developments and surprising moments that shake loyal fans to their core. Even knowing that, though, it’s unlikely that Scandal viewers were prepared for this season’s most shocking twist of all: that they were going to fall in love with Mellie.
Every Scandal fan has their own moment when they stopped loving to hate first lady Mellie Grant—who would result if Lady Macbeth hailed from Stepford and drank cocktails with Martha from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf —and started to simply love her.
Some of it had to do with fatigue over the callously brazen affair between the show’s protagonists, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn). Much of it came as heartbreaking details about the ambitious—if embattled—character’s past came to surface and helped explain away the malicious wrath that seemed to be her guiding light. But, more than anything, the shift came as we all had the realization that the actress bringing Mellie to life, Bellamy Young, is just damned good at her job.
Brimming with all of Mellie’s elegant grace, but with humble warmth replacing her character’s occasionally vicious grit, Young’s been witnessing the shift in attitude toward her scene-stealing creation. “We’re not all good and we’re not all bad as people,” Young says. “We have good moments and bad moments. I’m so lucky that the writers didn’t just leave Mellie to play her darkest, ugliest moments. They’ve allowed her in to the sun for a little while. And they’ve allowed her a little joy.”
Don’t be fooled, though. It’s been a slow transition. This is a woman who’s done so much blackmailing, dastardly plotting, and betraying that even though her husband has been cheating on her before their eyes, fans still rooted against her. But Young has chewed into each storyline with not just her teeth bared, but also her soul. The result is that, especially once we started learning empathetic things about her past, Mellie’s actions started to not only become easier to relate to, but also root for.