A popular thing in the show and many fics is that Ben portrays a somewhat protective towards Amy. I was wondering is that something you enjoy seeing in general? I think it’s adorable and comforting!
I do enjoy it – Veep, as a general rule, is such a bleak show that any moment of genuine kindness stands out (Gary and Mike hugging in 6.03, for instance).
That said, I do think the fandom tends to slightly misinterpret Ben’s character, in a way that’s kind of interesting. The audience seems to fall into the same trap as the characters do.
Because the whole thing where characters relate to him as ‘good ole uncle Ben’ is at least half them falling for a persona. Which isn’t to say it’s entirely fake – Ben IS an entertaining sad-sack, and he does relate to both Dan and Amy in a semi-paternal manner – just that Ben knows how to deploy it extremely effectively.
Because I would argue that Ben is – easily – the most ruthless character in the show, and his entire arc in season 3 puts this on display. He manoeuvres himself into a central position in Selina’s campaign by manipulating her choice of campaign manager, ensuring that no matter who she chooses it will be someone Ben can live with, and someone who won’t threaten his position (notice how Dan immediately backs down in 3.07 when he inadvertently criticises Ben’s work). He manipulates both Dan and Amy when they are openly competing for the campaign manager position, tricking Dan into spreading the Danny Chung torture rumours, and setting himself up as a confidante so that when, inevitably, one of them ISN’T chosen, they’ll talk to him and he may get wind of any plans to jump ship. Even more notably, look at how he turns on Dan – how instantly vicious he can be in order to get what he wants – in 4.04.
None of which is to say that Ben doesn’t like Amy (or Dan). I think it’s plain, from the show, that he does – the comment about Bill Erickson being “Amy without the conscience and Dan without the five percent that still needs to be loved” is spot-on, and he outright refers to her as ‘Adorable Amy’ early in season 3. He’s also notably glad to hear from her in 4.06, and seems about to attempt to convince her to come back. He also clearly shares her feelings about Karen Collins, and makes sure that she knows that (a little bit more of that and Amy might never have lost her temper to begin with).
It’s also not clear who was the driving force behind offering Amy a role at BKD – I tend to assume it was Dan, because Dan has been pretty consistent in trying to getting Amy to work with him, but Ben leads on ‘pitching’ to her, and when they have the initial discussion that leads to the firm being set up, Kent explicitly rules out Mike, but not Amy.
All of which is a roundabout way of saying I think Ben likes Amy, and I think Ben will stand up for Amy if it doesn’t cost him anything, precisely because he likes her – and I also think Ben would toss her overboard in a heartbeat if he thought it would benefit him or his campaign…without, and this is the crucial, him ceasing to like her in any way.
Note, Dan is terrible, but the show has gone out of its way to tell us that he has at least one moral red line (sexual assault) – we don’t have anything comparable from Ben.
Some of this might be to Amy’s benefit, mind you. I would expect Ben – being one of the more politically savvy characters – to be hyper-aware of just how bad the optics of Amy getting fired for being pregnant would be (Selina is easily capable of firing Amy in a fit of pique, though I don’t think she’d follow through on it). He’s also the only man on the team who has children, and multiple children at that – Ben may well be more aware of the physical toll of pregnancy than any other character (I get the feeling Selina has tried to blank out as much of her pregnancy as possible).