Emmy episode analysis: Khandi Alexander is locked away as Mama Pope in ‘Scandal’

khandi alexander scandal where the sun don't shine emmys drama guest actress maya pope

After two seasons recurring as villainous Maya Pope in “Scandal,” Khandi Alexander has received her first Emmy nomination for Best Drama Guest Actress. It’s her first career bid after decades of TV work including “NewsRadio,” “The Corner,” “ER,” “Treme” and this year’s Emmy-nominated telefilm “Bessie.” Will she win on her first try with her episode submission, “Where the Sun Don’t Shine”?

Khandi Alexander on playing family from hell in ‘Bessie’ and ‘Scandal’ [Exclusive Video]

SYNOPSIS: After being held hostage by her husband Rowan (Joe Morton), Maya believes her daughter Olivia (Kerry Washington) has come to rescue her. Instead, Olivia demands her arrest for murder and terrorism. Olivia later visits her in jail to demand information about Rowan, but Maya tells her, “Girl, you need to move on … You’re just like him.” Olivia is upset at being compared to her psychotic father, but Maya shows no sympathy: “Cry me a river.”

Will this captive performance win Alexander an Emmy? Let’s consider the pros and cons:


“Scandal” has done well in Emmy guest categories, winning Drama Guest Actor for the last two years: Dan Bucatinsky in 2013 and her on-screen husband Morton in 2014.

Alexander’s reputation precedes her. She may get extra support from voters who have admired her previous work and consider her overdue. And since she wasn’t nominated for her performance in “Bessie” this year, this is also the only chance for fans of that film to reward her.

Dropping truth bombs on Olivia and being visibly upset when her daughter leaves her to rot in jail adds a layer of sympathy to an otherwise sinister character.


Alexander only gets two scenes, which clock in under three minutes, so she doesn’t get much time to showcase her character in all her fiendish glory.

Maya is often the kind of showy, extravagant role that the Emmys love, but locked away by her husband and then her daughter, she’s more subdued and defeated in these scenes.

Alexander is the only nomination for “Scandal” this year. Her on-screen daughter Washington was snubbed in the Drama Actress category after two straight nods, which indicates waning support for the series.

Emmys 2015: Complete List of Episode Submissions

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