Complaining about how unrealistic "Scandal" is to the way things work in Washington is usually a fool's errand.
This is the show that had its president get shot, pull off a massive voter fraud scheme and murder a Supreme Court justice in just the first three years or so of his term. Yet its depiction of the White House Correspondents Dinner on Thursday's episode "More Cattle, Less Bull" was particularly grating. It felt lazy and like a missed opportunity.
The flashiest event on the political calendar – one that inspires a deluge of speculation, backlash and think pieces – occupied a mere 10 minutes of the entire episode. Olivia's fabulous black and white Rubin Singer gown aside, "Scandal" didn't make the most of all the intrigue and made-for-TV glamour the affair has to offer. Here's what else it got wrong:
1. The Location: The White House Correspondents Dinner has taken place at the Washington Hilton since the 1970s. In fact, this year's host Conan O'Brien exacted the wrath of DC-newsletter-sender-in-chief Mike Allen for mocking the space. The hotel's expansive basement, where the dinner takes place, should be quite easy to recreate on a Hollywood soundstage.
Yet "Scandal" had it taking place at the Kennedy Center, which has a few lounges, terraces and restaurants that could host a small event, but definitely not the space for a 2,600 person dinner. What makes this oversight feel even more clumsy and less like simple poetic license is that Olivia at one point is escorted to a hotel suite where she meets Mellie. This would make perfect sense at the Washington Hilton, but is completely incongruous to the Kennedy Center. It's like the show's writers crafted the episode knowing the dinner took place in a hotel, but forgot to pass the memo along to whoever is in charge of those click-click-click transition sequences.
2. The Invites: As its name suggests the Correspondents Dinner is an event for the press, with outlets dropping thousands of dollars on tables to which they invite celebs and politicians to rub shoulders with schlubby reporters. In "Scandal" world, it's a little less clear who gets an invite and why.
District Attorney David Rosen gets a plus one (and gets stood up) and so does Olivia Pope. But who is nowhere to be found at the dinner? The one actual reporter on the main cast, Cyrus's husband James. While "Scandal" usually depicts the press as little lap dogs to Olivia's and Co.'s machinations, it should have at least let them celebrate their big night.
3. The Celebs: For this year's White House Correspondents Dinner, ABC shipped in A-listers from "Modern Family," "Nashville" and – yes – "Scandal," to the delight of starry eyed reporters and politicians. At the "Scandal" Correspondents Dinner, not a single celebrity was to be found. ABC has broken this fourth wall on other shows before.
This week's "Nashville" featured a well publicized cameo by "Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts and even acknowledged her real life health battles. Now, come on "Scandal." How hard would have it been to have Sofia Vergara and Eric Stonestreet throw on something black tie and saunter across the ABC backlot to the "Scandal" set?