Whichever way you come to Scandal’s rewatch podcast, Unpacking the Toolbox — maybe you’re an OG gladiator, or perhaps you found Scandal during the pandemic — you’re going to stay for the hosts. Yes, there are tons of obscure facts and amazing guests, boatloads of behind-the-scenes reveals, and more analyses of characters than you’ve ever gotten, but it’s the podcast’s hosts (and former Scandal co-stars), Katie Lowes and Guillermo Diaz, with their strong connection and hilarious back-and-forth banter, who make the show a success.
“Those are podcasts and radio shows that I love,” says Diaz of the candid nature of Unpacking the Toolbox. “Those are the things that excite me, that keep pulling me back into listening because I’m like, ‘I don’t know what to expect from this person!’ And I think that’s what our podcast is — it’s not boring, sort of vanilla, just talking about the show. It’s not that at all. And that first episode is great, but that’s nothing compared to what’s coming.”
Diaz is referring to episode one of Unpacking the Toolbox, which premieres today on Shondaland Audio in partnership with iHeartRadio, and how right off the bat, the two best friends and former co-stars embrace swearing, dirty jokes, and secrets from filming (there may or may not have been a threesome!).
After celebrating the 10th anniversary of the series’ first airing, the Scandal fam (as they affectionately refer to one another) have come together to rehash the best moments from the seven-season run of the incredibly popular ABC show. With Diaz and Lowes as the fearless leaders in white suits (okay, they’re probably more often in sweats and loungewear while recording), the podcast promises to be a totally honest unveiling of what it was like to make Scandal.
We had the chance to talk to the dynamic duo about their new podcast and what we should expect.
VALENTINA VALENTINI: Look, there is a lot of TV right now, countless choices to be had. So, why does a rewatch of Scandal make sense right now?
KATIE LOWES: Here’s why: Because it’s just as good if not better than all of the shows out there. I mean, I wish I could be more humble, but taking myself out of the equation — I’m not talking about Quinn or my own performances — I’m talking about the show. And I am watching all the shows that have won Emmys, that have all the critical acclaim. I’m even watching all the binge-worthy shows that aren’t getting critical acclaim but everyone’s talking about. I love television; I’ve always been a television nerd, but it’s been crazy getting to do this podcast and going back and rewatching Scandal because Guillermo and I keep saying, “Holy s--t. This show is amazing.” Like, it 100 percent holds up — the stories, the writing, the acting, the fashion, the plot lines, the twists, the turns, the “OMG” moments, the passion, the chemistry between Olivia and Fitz [played by Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn] — I just think you’re missing out.
GUILLERMO DIAZ: And I’m shocked to feel that way. We keep saying how big of fans we’ve become of the show. Because when we were shooting it, it was too hard to sit back and enjoy the actual show. We were live tweeting, we were getting ready to shoot the next episode, so we were so in it. We couldn’t enjoy it the way the true fans did. And now, we’re able to do that. I just want to encourage everyone who is listening to this to go back and just watch the first episode. Your ass is gonna get hooked!
VV: Was there ever any hesitation on either of your parts to do this?
KL: No. Well, in truth, the only hesitation I had was to go back and watch every episode and comb over it as an actor in it. I don’t really enjoy watching myself; when something’s done, it’s done. I didn’t know how I would feel watching something again that I loved doing so much and I have such great memories of. The big shock and gift has been how much I’ve been loving it.
GD: When we’re not taping, me and Katie will text each other and be like, “Oh, my God, these episodes are so good!” Like, we’re fanning out over the show when we’re not even doing our job. I think that says a lot, you know?
KL: What’s also been fun … So, the entire Scandal cast and our significant others are on a WhatsApp chain, and we are in touch all the time. It’s been really fun to be rewatching the episodes, and I’ll take a picture or send some video of a scene from 10 years ago and be like, “You remember this s--t? Happy Wednesday!”
VV: Wait. There’s a text chain of the cast and their significant others from a show that ended 10 years ago?
KL: Oh, yeah.
GD: Yeah, because they were a big part of the whole journey of Scandal. My boyfriend would come with me to all the events, and he became a fan of the show too. They all did. I remember my partner would be so excited when he would come on set too and see the OPA office and the White House. They all became family.
KL: We all grew up on the show in a way. Some people got married, some people had kids, some people bought a home. Over seven, eight years of being with the same people, that happens. And we traveled together so much for the show; a lot of our significant others would come. Adam [Shapiro, Lowes’ husband] and Mikey [Mike Webb, Diaz’s partner] and Marietta [DePrima], George Newbern’s wife, and Marika [Dominczyk], Scott Foley’s wife, they all have the Scandal Wives Club … which will be an episode of the podcast! When Adam met Ellen DeGeneres, because Portia [de Rossi] was on the show, he was like, “Welcome to the Scandal Wives Club. We have brunch every third Sunday of the month.”
VV: Now, there are 124 episodes of Scandal — have you two really watched all of them?!
GD: Not yet, no. This first season of the podcast is only covering season one and season two of the show.
VV: Ah, that makes it a bit easier.
KL: Yeah, I would be very overwhelmed otherwise.
VV: Was there anybody else considered other than you two to host Unpacking the Toolbox?
GD: Well, Katie is the one who went to Shondaland and pitched the podcast. I think several other cast members wanted to do it, and I was lucky enough that Katie asked me. And Shondaland was into it, and I was so down.
KL: G and I just go together like a sandwich. I love the rest of the cast, and we’re all very good friends. I knew Josh Malina had done a podcast before for West Wing, so he really knows the space, and Foley and I are really close, and he and I had talked a few times. But in my gut — trust that Olivia Pope gut — I knew from the jump that I couldn’t do it without Guillermo. We’re peanut butter and jelly or turkey and Swiss. I think it’s because — and you’ll see in the podcast — our chemistry, our relationship, our history, our soulmate connection will be what people want to listen to in the end.
VV: This show is really candid, like extremely open.
GD: Oh, you’re talking about the threesome story …
VV: Yeah, I mean, in the first episode alone, you revealed that a threesome happened — you two love to swear; there just doesn’t seem to be any filter — and I don’t think listeners will necessarily be expecting that.
GD: That’s just us being ourselves.
KL: That’s just who we are. I couldn’t imagine doing this with censoring ourselves or feeling like I need to be careful. G and I inherently love the show, we love our castmates, we loved this job, and we love each other. We are who we are — we curse a lot, we like food, we like sex, we like experiencing our life and living it to the fullest.
KL: And I love that. Whether that’s Guillermo bingeing a million horror movies [Diaz points to his horror movie paraphernalia collection behind him in the Zoom], I feel like the gladiators and the people who listen will be onboard for that.
VV: Was there ever anything that you two touched on and then felt like you had to pull back or take out?
KL: We leave that up to them! G and I told iHeart and Shondaland Audio from the beginning, “We’re gonna just f--king be us. And if you think there’s something that gets us into trouble or is too wildly inappropriate, then that’s on you [to take out].” But Guillermo and I are just flying. In fact, they hold us back, because we wanted to do a bonus episode where we’re drinking Olivia Pope wine the whole f--king time, or Huck’s whiskey, and I go to G’s house, and we just get really candid and record it. No one has said no, but no one has said yes … yet! I feel like maybe that means there are some boundaries, but G and I are going to keep pushing them [both laugh].
VV: I know that you stayed close after Scandal ended and were super-close during filming. But coming back together again, have you learned anything new about each other?
KL: I can’t believe the amount of time I’ve spent with this person, and there’s still stuff to learn. We have this relationship that if it goes too long without seeing each other … like when he came to see me in Waitress and it’d been a minute, we just held each other, and we were both crying. We’re both very emotionally available people. But I did learn something new: I just learned G’s nickname is Kid, which I can’t believe I never knew.
GD: I think one of the things I learned is that I don’t want to have kids [Lowes laughs]. But I kinda knew that already. I mean, Katie’s kids are amazing ...
KL: You’re beautiful. I’m obsessed with you.
GD: But doing this podcast with Katie, I’ve seen how much work it takes to be a parent. Like, it’s a lot of freaking work.
KL: Oh, it’s a nightmare.
GD: It’s like being a director on set — you can’t step away and be like, “I’m gonna go chill in my trailer while you guys set up this scene,” like actors do. A director has to be there from beginning to end, and so does a parent. It’s very apparent that I do not want to be a parent!
KL: [Laughs] I am so glad that I was able to really give you that answer. And yet, this guy who’s the greatest person in the entire world and doesn’t want kids, when my son turned 2 and wanted a truck-themed party, I called Guillermo and Mikey, who both have trucks. They got them cleaned up and pulled them onto my front yard and just let, like, 30 kids jump all around in them, press every single button. It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. I still think about your windshield wipers and if they ever worked again.
GD: I just remember being by the food and eating the whole time. I didn’t care what they were doing to the trucks.
VV: Lastly, is there anything you want the fans to know before tuning in to Unpacking the Toolbox?
KL: What’s so great about the podcast is that we are giving you all access. You’re getting all the behind-the-scenes stories, but then you’re also hearing from all your favorite characters who you haven’t heard from in so long. And they’re telling stories that you’ve never heard before. We’re sitting on a huge mountain of content and material, and it just makes me so stoked that the people and the fans who were with us for the whole ride now have something to listen to.
GD: The fact that every one of the guests we’ve had on and the ones we’re going to have on in the future have all been so excited to come on the podcast — I hear that’s rare with rewatch podcasts, that people are very hesitant. Not with this one. Our whole cast and crew and super-fans, everybody just wants to come on, and we’re going to have them all on. It’s going to be a fun ride.
Valentina Valentini is a London-based entertainment, travel, and food writer and is also a senior contributor to Shondaland. Elsewhere, she has written for Vanity Fair, Vulture, Variety, Thrillist, Heated, and The Washington Post. Her personal essays can be read in the Los Angeles Times and Longreads, and her tangents and general complaints can be seen on Twitter at @ByValentinaV.
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