The final season of “Scandal” returns from its midseason hiatus on Thursday and Gladiators are sure to be excited to have a new episode to dissect on Twitter. Of course, the cast knows exactly what’s going to happen, and are just as excited to tweet about it with their fans on show night. After all, “Scandal” star Tony Goldwyn credits Kerry Washington with pretty much inventing the concept.
TheWrap asked Goldwyn, who plays Fitz on the Shonda Rhimes series, about the “Scandal” gang’s obsession with live-tweeting episodes at a set visit during the Television Critics Press association in January. The actor noted how the TGIT show “really broke the mold” with its social media impact, and that the cast now feels a “tremendous sense of responsibility toward fans, because they made this show a success.”
And that’s all thanks to Olivia Pope. Oh, we mean Washington.
“You know, Kerry had this idea of getting on Twitter in our very first broadcast,” Goldwyn told reporters of Washington’s plan when the series premiered in 2012. “And she talked to Shonda about it. And we all got together and Shonda said, ‘I’d like you to do this if you would.’ I didn’t know — I mean, I knew what Twitter was — but I had no interest in it at all, or I was afraid of it. And I thought the fact you could communicate in 140 characters is what’s wrong with our culture.”
But that didn’t last long.
“Very quickly I saw the power of it,” Goldwyn said. “And you could feel this grassroots impact from the very first time we tweeted with our fans — the instant. You could just feel this one-on-one relationship with an audience that I had never felt. It was more like working in the theater, you know? Where you feel your audience. and you could literally have conversations with people wherever they were — in Ohio or in Brazil or in Nairobi. I swear to God. And that grew and grew and grew exponentially every week. And they, I think the network wasn’t even aware.”
Goldwyn said the cast’s efforts to live-tweet “Scandal” cannot be ignored. It was ABC’s No. 3 most social series last calendar year and was one of the top 10 shows on Twitter in 2017.
“Our ratings were decent when we first aired, but they weren’t off the charts,” Goldwyn said. “Then, when the second season started, people started to write, you guys [gestures to reporters] started to write about this social media phenomenon… we were breaking all these records on Twitter.”
Goldwyn said the cast feels this “real allegiance and loyalty to our Gladiators” as they talk to them every week “for two hours!” The stars try to tweet for both the East Coast and West Coast feeds, he added, and even “fire off tweets” between shots if they are on set.
Joe Morton, who plays Olivia’s father Eli Pope aka Rowan, added that, because the cast all have stage backgrounds live-tweeting is even more of a rush for them.
“It’s the closest we get to being in the theater, cause in real time the audience actually can talk to the actors about what’s going on in the episode that they’re watching,” Morton said. “And that’s about the closest that I know of any screen actor being on stage in live theater.”
Goldwyn said that, while stars may have been conversing with fans on Twitter a “little bit” before “Scandal,” Washington was the one who turned the activity into the phenomenon it is today.
“She saw what an opportunity this was, and we, in a concerted effort as a team, we all did it together.”
In summation, Washington “handled” it.
The “Scandal” series finale airs tonight at 10/9 c on ABC.