Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington stars as Olivia Pope in ABC's "Scandal." (Richard Cartwright / Associated Press / April 22, 2013)

ABC is getting less scandalous this season.

The network has reduced its order for the Kerry Washington political soap "Scandal" from 22 episodes to 18. The news is somewhat surprising, given the show's Nielsen's performance (12 million viewers a week) and dominance each Thursday night on social media (or at least on the nights when it isn't competing with "The Sound of Music Live!")

TALKING TV: Oh, that scandalous, Scandal

Though an ABC spokesperson declined to elaborate about the network's reasoning, most likely the order was reduced to accommodate series star Washington, who is reportedly pregnant with her first child. As regular viewers of "Scandal" will note, Washington's character, Olivia Pope, known for her sleek and stylish wardrobe, has been sporting a conspicuous number of roomy overcoats and bulky sweaters this season. Perhaps executives at ABC thought viewers would balk at the image of their heroine sporting third-trimester muumuus.

So far, it does not appear that creator Shonda Rhimes and her team of highly inventive writers will incorporate Washington's likely pregnancy into "Scandal's" already wildly complicated storyline, which is a tad disappointing -- think of all the possibilities!

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Twitter: @MeredithBlake