TV’s Favorite Female Veep Doesn’t Need “Happy Pills”
It’s good to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus, yet again. It’s even better to see her as the vice president. Season two of Veep is making me laugh aloud, and causing me concern. Last season, the unifying theme was her own pointlessness. She went to frozen yogurt shops and unimportant meet-and-greets. Her catchphrase was, “What the fuck, Amy?” The running gag was her asking her assistants, “Did the president call?”
And of course, he never, ever did.
Season two’s opener showed her ranking .9 percent higher than the president in popularity polls, which of course, means the president has no choice but to give Selina more power.
While this is all good news, the writers are mucking around with Selina’s character, in ways I see as unnecessary. She’s engaged in much bigger federal and international issues, but she’s simply being drawn with more crass, and less class.
Last season, she did drop the F-bomb every other word, and who could forget the frustration-created term “fucktard,” but much of Season One was shot in her office. This season, she’s out and about, calling Jonah a “jolly green jizz face” in the outer office and flipping the finger at POTUS’s right-man, strategist Kent, in the West Wing.
This season, we discover that she lets herself smoke cigarettes while she’s in Europe (somehow, in Europe, smoking barely counts). And, what I consider rather depressing (no pun intended), she takes Happy Pills. So, she’s been given more power and the vice of cigarettes. I am not judging the writers’ decision to make the Veep need meds, but “Happy Pills”? What kind of 1950s housewife implication is that? HAPPY PILLS? Who uses that term? There’s something that irks me about the fact that the first we’ve ever heard them mentioned is when she is on her way to meet her ex-husband. So she can partake in hostage negotiations, foreign policy and national security without meds, but spending time with her ex-husband pushes her to HAPPY PILLS? We have a woman as strong and fearless as Selina Meyer, and we’re going to have her flash and gnash her teeth, dress in skin-tight red suits, and tell everyone exactly what she thinks as well as what THEY think, and then have her take “Happy Pills”?
I don’t accept that these behaviors are intended to make her human or fallible or even a screwup. Last year, she could be often be found spinning in her office chair AND she pooped herself. I think we get that she’s human.
The show is one of the few that make me laugh aloud. The quips just keep on coming and every scene is a surprise, but I’m hoping the writers don’t continue in the direction they are moving in, or they’re going to end up with a caricature instead of a character.
She was always just mean to her “bag man,” Gary (everyone’s favorite, Tony Hale), but now her cruelty totters precariously close to plain cruel. When her assistant, Amy, tells her she should ratchet back her rather sadistic aggression toward Gary, Selina tells Amy, “He’d love it if I shot him in the face. I think about it sometimes.”
Two episodes later, apropos of nothing, at her daughter’s 21st birthday party, she asks Gary, “If I were drunk right now, would you kiss me?” If you watch it, freeze-frame and look at Anna Chlumsky’s face; she looks as stunned as I am.
Did the writers have to make her an exaggeration, turn her into Selina the Insult comic, because it’s so impossible to imagine a woman as the VP? Her raunchiness is not salacious, it’s becoming cartoonish. Growing up, I remember watching Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie and being bugged that the lead female characters asked their husbands/masters (yeah, masters) for permission to use their powers. It’s 30 years later, and I’m not sure much has changed. If the character of Selina was being executed by someone less talented than Louis Dreyfus, the show would be laughable in bad ways instead of good ones.
Joe Biden and staffers watch the show—and have likened themselves to various characters and called moments of their own VEEPish. That’s nice for the writers and crew, but maybe we should also worry, since yes, the show is about power, but ultimately it’s about people who don’t have any.
Selina gets to threaten the husband of the Finnish prime minister after he squeezes her boob, but we know there will be no recourse. As Selina says: “Because he’s a man, because this is a man’s world we live in. Because of the axis of dick.” Then she draws hard on her cigarette.
Dear Writers: You have built a great cast. Your premise affords you limitless potential plots. Julia won an Emmy. The show was nominated, even though it was up against some series that make 22 episodes, compared to your eight. Don’t blow this by spiraling out and getting caught up in your own fun with dead dick insults. Calm the fuck down.