When Veep first premiered earlier this spring, I had high hopes for this comedy that looked like it would effectively parody the political ridiculousness of Washington D.C.
Read one headline a day from our nation’s capitol and you’ll find approximately 78 jokes hidden within it. And one senator’s cock shot. Our country’s a mess in every single way that a first world country can be a mess and a show pointing that out in hilarious ways would be more than welcome in this tense political climate. Especially a show that stars the talented Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
However Veep quickly went from a show about D.C politics to a show about an inept boss who creates a giant mess for her employees to clean up every single week. The show’s writers clearly wanted to turn Vice President Selina Meyer into some kind of Sarah Palin doppelganger for us to laugh at every single week.
“Golly, gosh darnit, look what Selina’s done this week! Let’s see how this hijink plays out over the 30-minute episode.”
Here’s the problem with that plan though. No one (who watches HBO) likes Sarah Palin. No one wants to watch a show about the misadventures of one of the worst people to ever get a real life VP nomination. It’s not funny, it’s scary. We can’t fall in love with someone we hate in real life. That’s like trying to develop a romantic comedy around Casey Anthony. The jokes might be sharp, but we’re still reeling from the real life trauma.
And that’s not to say that inept TV bosses are unlovable. Look at Michael Scott from The Office (back in its glory days, obviously). He proved that someone could continually mess up at in the office, but still be liked by his employees — as well as the viewing audience. Why? He actually tried to do a good job for the sake of doing a good job. Yes, he wanted to be well-liked and yes that’s what led to many of his weekly problems. But at the end of the day, he tried to sell paper and he tried to make his company profitable.
And every year he proved that he actually could sell paper in an increasingly paperless world. During almost every season Michael Scott would get recognized for his good work. Whether it’s the fact that his branch stayed open when others closed or the fact that he’s the most profitable branch manager, The Office always tried to show us that Michael could do his actual job. He just couldn’t do anything else well.
Selina Meyer sucks at her job. Not only does she mess up everything she attempts to do, but she’s not even doing any of it for the right reasons. She just wants to be well-known and well-liked. She could care less about her role as the Vice President. So this motivation turns her into a pretty unlikeable protagonist. A Kardashian of sorts.
Why should I care when her Clean Jobs act falls apart if I don’t really believe that she cares. She’s constantly selling herself out to make people happy and that makes it hard to get behind her on any of her initiatives.
And if I don’t like her, then I can’t really justify liking any of the people working for her. Especially when they’re just as inept as her. Every week consists of them attempting to clean up Selina’s mess, only to make it worse. I don’t think the team saw any successes during the entire first season, leaving us nothing to root for or be excited about going into season two. The season finale last night included what we thought would be a huge win — Selina improving her ratings by crying on camera — that ended up backfiring in a big way right before the end of the episode.
With so much talent on their cast, they can still change the direction of the show for the second season and make it a comedy that people want to watch as well as make Selina Meyer a woman that we want to cheer on.
They need to make it about Washington D.C and the daily bullshit that happens there. Make it about a good politician trying to navigate her way through corrupt waters. Make her team somewhat competant at doing their jobs. Let them sometimes do their job well. Maybe the president can call once. Just once.
Make me want to laugh with Selina Meyer and not at her. I want to be smiling at the end of the episode with the cast and not cringing as they go into crisis mode.
That’s the show I want to watch. So hopefully HBO makes it happen.