“Veep” Selina Meyer: More Same Old Politico Than Hopeful Inspiration

Image via hbo.com

If Elaine from Seinfeld turned to the world of politics, and added in a dash of Curb Your Enthusiasm and a pinch of The Office, you’d have Selina Meyer, the vice president of unnamed political party in HBO’s new series, VEEP.  I was so excited when I heard this show was getting produced — I had a little inside information since some of the scenes were shot in the offices of someone “close” to me — because I’ve long mourned the demise of Geena Davis as our first pretend POTUS.

With Elaine, I mean Julia Louis-Dreyfus, playing the role of the vice president, I knew the show wasn’t going to be like the West Wing, but I was looking forward to some insight and humor into the unique challenges of women in our testosterone driven world of national politics. But in watching the first couple of episodes of VEEP, that’s not what we’re getting.

While Meyer has idealistic issues as her pet causes — recyclable soy-based eating utensils and filibuster reform — her version of a vice president is more jaded politico than a fresh player with new perspectives. And that made me wonder — is this character of Selina Meyer an example of the kind of woman it will take to eventually be the first woman VP or even the first woman POTUS? If so, I’m not sure that’s a version of female political power I want to see. Call me crazy, but I hope that whoever ends up as the first woman in the Oval Office or the first female vice president will be more than just the same old kind of politician who just happens to wear a skirt and own a curling iron.

Maybe the reason VEEP misses the mark for me is this –  as a satire, the show has nothing to be satirical about. We’ve come close to having a woman as vice president, but so far we have no idea how that experience as second-in-command would actually be any different from Joe Biden’s or Al Gore’s. (As for Dick Cheney’s? I’d rather just forget about that). So what we get is an almost-comedy about what we’ve seen so far in vice presidents, rather than an imagined view of how things might be different when a woman steps into those shoes.

I want to see a woman president (or vice president) before I die, but not one who looks like Selina Meyer.

  • Helen

    Thanks, Joanne, for the heads up. Of course, the trailers make it look clever and she is a brilliant comedic actress but if the writers did not expand on the possibilities and offer the character an opportunity to bring real satire (and with that-humor) to the role then we are burned for another TV_memory cycle when folks will say “we just had a show about a woman VPOTUS” so why do it again. That’s why Commander-in-Chief will stop another show from bubbling up until we see a real woman in the real White House.

  • Jill

    I just discovered VEEP, and I have to say — I like it, for many of the reasons you don’t. I like that they don’t harp on Selina’s female-ness. In fact, are you sure she’s the first female Veep? I’d have to go back and watch the shows again, but I’m fairly sure they don’t say. For all we know, in VEEP’s universe, there may have already been a really awesome first female POTUS.

  • No, there has been no female VPOTUS–Gerldine Ferraro came close as Modale’s running-mate in 1984. Thank the powers-that-be that VEEP isn’t about a Palin-type VP, which I was afraid of it being. I too like that her femaleness is underplayed, that sex-jokes, nasty snarking and put-downs are equally uttered by both genders–it reminds me of Richard Armey, the drill sergent in Full Metal Jacket, when he says, “I don’t care if you’re a wop, a spic, a nigger, or a jew–I hate all of you equally!” just sayin’ it like it is. And from what I know about the VP job, it’s pretty shitty–Barbara Bush was pissed at the Reagans for never inviting the Bushes to the WH for dinner. Afterall, the VP is basically waiting for the POTUS to die to take the top-spot in global politics: I imagine that would be a testy relationship.

    I like it. Better that The Newscast, which lacks the great casting, the *clean, well-paced*
    dialog and doesn’t try to be what it is not: serious. The Newscast takes itself *so* seriously and tries to be so *witty* it’s just like warmed-over shit-on-a-shingle. By comparison, VEEP is fabulous.

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