We all know that Olivia Pope’s hair in Scandal can determine what time period we’re in on the show before anything flashes on screen. But before, we only had two different places in time: two years ago and present day. Next week on Scandal, the show is jumping ahead by 10 months. And guess what? Olivia’s got new hair. So here’s a bit of a hair diagram (not really) where we try to decipher when are we on the show.


Otherwise known as “Two years ago,” we can tell that we are currently in a flashback because Olivia’s hair has quite adamantly decided to cover all of her forehead. The term for this is called “bangs.” (Wikipedia tells me that it’s also known as “fringes,” which is something new that I learned today.) As a result, we have coined the hairdo represented to the right here, during flashbacks, as “flashbangs.” I think that the reasoning is very obvious here. It’s a flashback, and she has bangs. Flashbangs.

While we’d never call Olivia naïve, there is a sense of innocence with this hairdo; it’s before Olivia decided to live in the blurry lines of grey and rig the presidential election in Fitz’s favor. Then again, Flashbangs is when Olivia was having steamy extramarital sex with Fitz. Flashbangs: innocent… yet seductive.


Otherwise known as present day, whenever that currently is. This is the iconic Olivia Pope look: it’s after Olivia had left the White House, stopped (somewhat) her affair with Fitz, and frankly began to hate herself for denying the American people of the president they actually voted for. Presentlayered Olivia is a conflicted individual — she always has everyone’s best interests at heart, but she will oftentimes cut through some red tape to get from Point A to Point B.

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This name is also quite simple: It’s the present, where we are presently watching it, and it’s layered.


After the latest episode, a promo aired which featured Olivia with straightened flat hair. Now we know that the next episode takes place 10 months after what has transpired during “Nobody Likes Babies.” That, kind of (even if it will be present day when we watch) makes this new hairdo take place in the future.

It’s a flashforward and Olivia’s hair is flat: It’s a flatforward.

In the few episodes leading up to the flatforward, Olivia was repenting for her sins…and thus her hair finally represents that. It’s no longer so big because she’s not full of secrets, as it were.

But hold up, there’s an anomaly here, guys. Let’s not forget that Olivia has had flatforward hair before, not because it was a flashforward, but during Fitz’s birthday episode. Edison at one point tells Olivia that he has seen her press her hair, which Google says is a form of flattening hair. We have to presume that this is pre-Flashbang days. (A Furtherflatbacks, if you will.) So before Olivia met and fell in love with Fitz and had a messed up moral compass, her hair was flat. And coming up 10 months later after she has confessed to her wrongdoings (somewhat), she will be doing the flatbacks again. But wait, there’s more! The first foreshadowing of her flatforward is when Fitz gets shot: in other words, when her demons begin to haunt her.

And that my friends, is how we can determine in what time period we are during the series… and what Olivia’s inner-struggles are. Flasbangs, Presentlayered, and Flatforward (and Furtherflatbacks).

Michael Collado
Mike's a television junkie located in Miami, where he spends all of his time watching TV with his best friends couch and cable access.