Tonight's episode of Scandal featured Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) rescuing the president's drunk daughter, Karen Grant (Mary Mouser), from a frat party where she engaged in a threesome and was heard on a sex tape saying, "All right, boys. Let's go to Paris."
That sly mention — barely audible on what Olivia called "the dirtiest sex tape [she'd] ever seen" — of a sex act called Eiffel Towering is the latest example of how ShondaLand's Thursday night lineup on ABC (aka T.G.I.T.) is committed to changing the way network television, and by extension, America, talks about sex.
Scandal has never shied away from steamy scenes — the pilot featured Olivia and President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) making love in the Oval Office and few will soon forget Quinn (Katie Lowes) and Huck (Guillermo Diaz) having pantyhose-ripping sex on the hood of a car. But the show's current fourth season has taken that carnal lust to a whole new level.
The tone was set early in the Season 4 premiere when Jake Ballard (Scott Foley) fingered Olivia on their secluded beach oasis. And that carried through to 10 p.m. when the series premiere of How To Get Away with Murder, created by Pete Nowalk and executive produced by Shonda Rhimes, featured Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) receiving oral sex from her lover, Nate (Billy Brown).
The premiere, and subsequent three episodes, have also featured explicit (by network TV standards) sex scenes featuring gay law school student Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee) and multiple partners — including one encounter that brought rimming to broadcast television and another copy room romp that had Twitter buzzing.
But perhaps the most progressive thing about Murder is that Annalise and Connor's sex scenes are treated in the exact same way. "To me, writing the gay characterization and writing some real gay sex into a network show is to right the wrong of all of the straight sex that you see on TV," Nowalk told E! News. "Because I didn't see that growing up, and I feel like the more people get used to two men kissing, the less weird it will be for people. I just feel like it's a lack of vision that you don't see it on TV, but ABC has never had a note about any of the weird stuff in the show, so I'm gonna keep it going."
BuzzFeed News' requests for comment from Nowalk and Rhimes were not immediately returned.