Category: veep

I officially hate Selina with a passion – do y…

I officially hate Selina with a passion – do you think there's any hope of her getting a miserable ending – it seems like she's doing well in primaries so far…

Basic rule of writing – if they’re flying high in the middle of the story, they will not be at the end. That’s boring – there’s no suspense, no tension, no shift of mood.

So, Selina may be doing well now, but I think we can be pretty certain that it’s not going to last, and a reversal of fortune is just around the corner.

But guys, let’s make sure we’re hating Selina for the right reasons. As much as I think it is world-endingly-dumb for her to sleep with Dan – and I do – I don’t find this anywhere near as upsetting as pressuring Amy to get an abortion. I highly doubt that Selina did this with the intent of hurting Amy, or that she plans on Amy finding out about it. As coldly as she fired Dan, I don’t think she wants anyone to know.

Dan is not Amy’s exclusive property. As long as he has the decency and tact to keep his sexual exploits well the fuck away from her (which seems to be asking a lot in this show, since he can’t keep his dick out of her family members), instead of rubbing them in her face when he knows that upsets her, I truly don’t give a damn who he sleeps with.

Besides, always worth remembering – no fate could be as bad as being Dan or Selina, especially not with their magnificent ability to drive away the people who care about them.

I officially hate Selina with a passion – do y…

I officially hate Selina with a passion – do you think there's any hope of her getting a miserable ending – it seems like she's doing well in primaries so far…

Basic rule of writing – if they’re flying high in the middle of the story, they will not be at the end. That’s boring – there’s no suspense, no tension, no shift of mood.

So, Selina may be doing well now, but I think we can be pretty certain that it’s not going to last, and a reversal of fortune is just around the corner.

But guys, let’s make sure we’re hating Selina for the right reasons. As much as I think it is world-endingly-dumb for her to sleep with Dan – and I do – I don’t find this anywhere near as upsetting as pressuring Amy to get an abortion. I highly doubt that Selina did this with the intent of hurting Amy, or that she plans on Amy finding out about it. As coldly as she fired Dan, I don’t think she wants anyone to know.

Dan is not Amy’s exclusive property. As long as he has the decency and tact to keep his sexual exploits well the fuck away from her (which seems to be asking a lot in this show, since he can’t keep his dick out of her family members), instead of rubbing them in her face when he knows that upsets her, I truly don’t give a damn who he sleeps with.

Besides, always worth remembering – no fate could be as bad as being Dan or Selina, especially not with their magnificent ability to drive away the people who care about them.

Regular

Veep, 7.04, South Carolina

1. Oh man, I am ashamed of how much I enjoyed that. Dan, you fucking moron.

I mean, we always knew he was going to get fired some day because of his dick, but this is such a stupid, stupid way for it to happen. Having a one-night stand with his candidate who he knows has negative loyalty, even to Tom James, who she actually seems to love. Why on earth did he think having sex with Selina would get him anything? She’s not Amy, she doesn’t go around developing genuine attachments to people, she messed around Charlie Baird who she actually liked, so how he thought he would be safe I can’t imagine.

But it was very cruel of the showrunners to give me shirtless Reid Scott in a scene where I couldn’t enjoy the view, because I was too busy laughing at what stupid, stupid choices he was making. Like, dude, this is why settling down with Amy really would have been a better option for you – you would have been having just as much sex, you would have at least one person who would always be on your side AND that person is someone you actually seem to like. (At some point, forty years from now, he’s got to realise what a cock-up that was).

I said he was spiralling, but this really seems like it. He’s going to wind up a D.C. joke, no two ways about it.

2. Question: how can Selina fire Dan? Has BKD been wound up permanently?

3. Oh Selina. Sleeping with Dan – really? I mean, really? For what it’s worth, I’d assume she’d made the decision to fire him before they had sex – hence giving in and going for it. Can you imagine what the scene of the two of them…flirting their way into sex must have looked like? How do two people that narcissistic listen to the other person long enough to actually get down?

We’re going to find out there’s some competitive bullshit with Amy at the back of this, a kind of “anything you can do, I can do better” type of thing. I remember joking with @selina-meyer that the only thing Selina would ever want from Dan is sex – but I still think she can do better.

4. Proof of my theory that Dan and Selina are terrible, terrible soulmates – she throws him away just as callously as he has to dozens of women. Not so much fun when the boot is on the other foot, right?

5. The shark in the Keith Quinn suit emerges. Interesting – and far more subtly done than any other political operator in Veep. And people think Amy sabotaging Dan in London was cold. That said, taking out Dan is nothing that impressive – since he was virtually guaranteed to fuck himself into trouble sooner or later.

6. I’m assuming that Mike is going to “remember” his conversation with the Chinese at a suitably dramatic moment.

7. Selina, Selina, Selina, how many times have we been over this? Tom James is only ever nice to you when he’s about to sabotage you in some surprising and cold-blooded way. Watching all of this play out is making the length of her marriage to Andrew more intelligible, I’ll say that.

8. Dressing Amy up in Kellyanne Conway drag, didn’t really work – Anna Chlumsky is just too young and…healthy looking for it to quite land. Funnily enough, I always thought that was a likely trajectory for Dan.

9. The lengthy “dog-whistle” discussion was not nearly as funny as the writers thought it was.

10. Selina gives the signal that she’s willing to have the Chinese sabotage the election, because when it comes down to it, she can’t stomach standing up in front of a black congregation and justifying police brutality. So instead she disenfranchised tens of thousands of black voters. I guess this is what happens when the three percent of what used to be her conscience gets activated.

11. I’m curious where they’re going with the Hero!Richard thing. It’s interesting for me that for all Veep is about supposedly cut-throat politicians, none of the candidates we see are ever intentionally successful – they just bumble-fuck their way into a victory without ever realising how or why it’s happening.

12. If Jonah’s hot new Secret Service Guy is Amy’s new boyfriend (he’s in the cast for the final three episodes, so it seems possible) I think it’s clear that, between him and Marjorie, the route to personal happiness in Veep is getting it on with the Secret Service.

13. On a Veep Style front, we saw the first incarnation of Amy’s new look, and, surprise surprise, it’s not quite right – she’s got the dress sorted, but the hair and make-up are still being nailed down. Growing pains are to be expected.

She’s kind of getting a new lease of life from Jonah’s campaign I think – they’re doing so badly, there’s really nothing for her to lose, so why not go balls to the wall and get everything she can from it personally?

14. I was hoping for more from Keegan-Michael Key. He could have done that part in his sleep.

Photo

Photo

I guess I have some issues with the way that t…

I guess I have some issues with the way that the abortion is being discussed right now. Deciding to not have a kid because you don’t have the support of a partner is still a choice, and it’s in fact a big part of why many people decide to have an abortion. That’s real, and it doesn’t equal manipulation. Amy looked at the reality of what she was facing and Dan’s behavior and decided. (And she doesn’t need insight from Sophie—she’s made enough cracks about Sophie being a single mom. She gets it.)

Anon, I think it’s useful here to clarify that my complaint really isn’t with Amy having an abortion in and of itself. There are many, many reasons women make that choice and it’s not for me – or anyone else – to pass judgment on their decisions. Choosing not to have a child if you can’t do it without the support of a partner seems pretty damn reasonable to me.

But it’s important that I’m clear on this – my questioning the choices Veep’s writers made in structuring Amy’s arc is not the same thing, at all, as questioning whether Amy’s reasoning is “good enough.”

And one of the biggest problems is that Amy’s moment of decision happens over about forty-five seconds, from beginning to end, and even with a fine actress in the part, it just isn’t enough to convey that Amy has come to the decision entirely independently of Dan and Selina’s ongoing emotional abuse.

The writers had choices here – they didn’t have to make every single character Amy spoke to about her pregnancy relentlessly awful to her. I think it would sit a lot better if the show hadn’t gone out of its way to confirm that absolutely no one in Amy’s life was going to give her any support. Take away Selina and Gary being so horrible to her – with Selina docking Amy’s pay and threatening her future emoployment – take away Sophie using the opportunity of the abortion to sleep with Dan again, and have her be at least mildly supportive – have Dan say “do what you want and I’ll pay my due, but just that and no more” – have someone, anyone, behave like a reasonable human being (a woman of Amy’s age considering having a child should come as a surprise to precisely no one) and suddenly it’s much, much easier to believe that Amy’s choice was her own.

How the writers choose to frame things matters. They can say whatever they choose about what they intended, but… when you have all the other characters back Amy into a corner (metaphorically speaking) and the only way she gets out it is by doing what they want, I think it’s fair to question how free the choice was. Because believe you me, I wouldn’t be half or even a quarter so pissed off if I thought it was something she really wanted (except about the Meaghan thing, because come on).

If Veep had written an abortion storyline that really demonstrated how and why access to abortion gives women greater control over their own lives and thus more safety and security (by, for instance, giving them the tools to escape shitheads like Dan), I would throw them a parade. Those are stories people need to hear, over and over again.

Now, I don’t think they did – but opinions may very well differ on that point.

what are your thoughts on the writers and the …

what are your thoughts on the writers and the cast saying that the abortion arc was fully amy's choice?

If that was what they intended to convey, they really, really failed.

On the most basic level, if you want us to believe it is a choice Amy makes freely, don’t place the moment of decision right after Dan tells her he’s going to have sex with a teenage girl with the same name that she wants to give their daughter.  There is no way for the audience to read those things as disconnected.  Especially as there is all of seven seconds between Dan closing the door and Amy making the phone call – we don’t really see Amy’s thought process.

In the whole arc, there isn’t a single scene where Amy gets to express what she wants and why – every time she opens her mouth about the pregnancy she gets shut down by the people she’s speaking to, mocked, and then pressured about an abortion.  It is just as much an abuse of reproductive autonomy to force a woman to have an abortion as to prevent her from having one.  

And what kills me about this… if this is the outcome they wanted, there are definitely ways to get Amy there that don’t feel so unpleasant.  Have the Jonah job offer come in the second episode, so it’s partly guiding her thought process.  Have Selina – who would know – react to the pregnancy by pointing out to Amy (as forcefully as necessary) just how much damage a lifelong link to a handsome dirtbag could do (and that’s not even getting into Selina’s feelings about Catherine) to her career aspirations. (Not to mention Selina’s likely feelings about a pregnancy on the campaign, which I doubt were positive).  Have Sophie really bring home to her what the realities of being a single mother are – because it is a hard and lonely path to walk. Have Dan sit her down and tell her straight that she can do whatever she wants, but he is not going to be an involved father or ever interested in any kind of ongoing relationship with her.

To be clear, none of these possibilities require that any of the characters involved be nice about the pregnancy – it’s Veep, moments of kindness are few and far between – just that they have some inkling that Amy’s choice is primarily one about her.  

Or if they couldn’t have that, have Amy react in a realistic fashion, and get angry with at least one of the people who is demanding she make major decisions about her life and her body for their convenience.  Because, yes, the scene where she unloads on the protesters was fantastic, and Anna Chlumsky hit it out of the park (her performance has been exceptional throughout – to the point where it’s obscuring some serious failures in the writing), but writing the scene in that way means that Dan and Selina are never called to account for the way they’re treating her, and the audience is…insulated from the reality of what the show has depicted.  Because the protesters are obnoxious and espouse a hateful ideology, but they aren’t the ones who attempted to exert control over Amy’s reproductive choices and were successful.  Dan is.

And to add insult to injury, the show has her thank him for taking care of her after the abortion – when it’s very, very hard to avoid the suspicion that his caretaking is just another form of emotional abuse.  He’s sweet to Amy when she does what he wants, but when she doesn’t…well he will act out in the ways he knows are guaranteed to hurt her the most.

Which I could live with, if the show acknowledged that that’s what they’ve depicted (though with its heightened atmosphere, I’m not sure Veep is the best show to tackle abuse in romantic relationships)…but it’s still trying to maintain the audience’s hope that maybe the two of them will get it together somehow, so there’s this weird pretence that they’re still friends, and he’s still someone Amy would confide in.  

Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining – don’t try to sugar over coercive and abusive treatment of a young woman by saying she “chose” it and therefore the other characters are retrospectively absolved.

Dan coercing an abortion – whether through emotional or financial or some other form of pressure (I don’t think he would ever physically abuse Amy, but that’s cold comfort at this point) – was always my red line, and the show attempting to sugar-coat it, isn’t going to change that. (Though I do find it noteworthy that, as awful as he has been throughout the show, they still had to bend his character in half to get him to the point of doing it).

Photo

Photo

Regular

Veep – Pledge

This was both not as bad as I expected and also…just tonally all over the place.

1. The writing decisions here are confusing to me. When I said – back before season 6 – that I thought an unplanned pregnancy was a likely outcome for Dan and Amy, it was because I saw it as a tool to make them get to the point – a way of bringing out all the feelings they’ve both been burying for so long.

Except, they go through it, Amy has the abortion…and they somehow manage to do this without talking about anything. Their relationship hasn’t actually developed or changed in any noticeable way from where it was in 6.10 – in fact, in some ways it seems to have regressed, because Dan’s attraction to Amy seems to have basically vanished, so we still have no clear sense of what his feelings, of any, about her are.

It’s like they want us to believe that the abortion is a difficult enough choice for Amy that she struggles with it and finds it upsetting and isn’t even sure afterwards that it is the right option – but it has no impact on how she feels about Dan? Like, why isn’t she angry with him? He has been nothing but an unrepentant turd the entire time – the woman who cries over whether to have an abortion and all but proposes to the father… and the woman who doesn’t even get angry when that father sleeps with her sister who came to support her through that abortion (again)…it doesn’t seem like it’s physically possible for those feelings to exist in the same body.

The show only seems to take Amy’s feelings seriously every second scene, and it’s giving me whiplash. How is it actually possible for her to get through this experience and not have her feelings for Dan change in any noticeable way?

2. That said – Anna Chlumsky knocked it out of the park. And my god it was cathartic to see someone rip into pro-life campaigners the way they deserve. Like, I don’t have sympathy for their cause to begin with, but anyone who pickets an abortion clinic is the beneath contempt. No one’s best day involves an abortion – and for those who don’t choose it but are forced into it by medical necessity it may well be one of the worst days of their lives – only cowards go after people that vulnerable.

3. I am glad the writers brought Sophie to Iowa, if only because it answers the question of why Amy would involve Dan in the abortion at all after his past behaviour – she didn’t want to, planned not to, and then was forced into it by someone who should have supported her being shitty. Sums up the whole storyline, really.

4. Dan sleeps with Sophie. Again.

Really? After everything that’s happened that shows a lack of intelligence on his part that’s almost…clinical. I’d almost find it more believeable if they didn’t have sex and just bonded over being terrible, terrible people and got really drunk together.

That or it genuinely is self-sabotage on his part. I’d almost believe it at this point, because… Dan’s cold-bloodedness when it comes to relationships has always (to me) been kind of his most interesting and most repellant trait. And yet there wasn’t any of that when Amy realised what was going on – he almost seemed ashamed. It feels out of control in a way his sexual horribleness earlier on in the show really, really didn’t.

5. And yet. There are flashes of something else. He’s in Amy’s room the next morning, sleeping in the chair, so presumably he took her back to the hotel, put her to bed after the procedure (and what was that conversation like) and stayed over to be sure she was all right. Not only that, but at some point he went out and got maxi pads, filled them up with whatever it was (I’m guessing Aloe Vera was in the mix somewhere) and froze them. Which suggests quite a lot of planning for someone who refuses to be involved in any of the conversations about what Amy was going to do. He also puts himself between Amy and the protestors, which is the most protective thing I think he’s ever done.

If they are really going with this interpretation of Dan as loving Amy simply as a friend, but not having any romantic feelings for her, I simply don’t know how to square it with the character as he existed up until the end of season 5 – his need for Amy’s attention was such an engrained part of him that he barely feels like the same person. His attraction to Amy was almost his only recognisably human trait for most of the show. And man it is an unsatisfying way of winding up a story seven years in the making.

It was a strange…staging choice to have him so close to Amy when she’s talking to Teddy, literally breathing down her neck, and then…not show us his reaction to her leaving because he presumably had one. (Maybe I need to watch the scene again?) I would have thought that – from Dan’s perspective – now that Amy’s had the abortion he’d expect things to go back to ‘normal,’ so for him to have no feelings about her leaving calls attention to itself. Like, he could be pissy – because he’s going to miss her – or supportive – because he knows he’s been a shit – but the show gave Reid Scott nothing to play.

6. When you think of the mileage the show got out of Amy leaving Selina in season 4, to have her dump Selina’s campaign in an episode where they’re barely in a scene together feels really, really odd.

And it would make sense for Amy to jump onto Jonah’s campaign as a way to avoid her feelings about Dan and Selina, except that the show doesn’t let her express any feelings about Dan and Selina, so it winds up feeling…weirdly inconsequential. Like, it should be a big moment in the show – it should feel like a hard choice she has to make, at least emotionally, and yet…precisely because the show underplays it so much, the moment falls flat.

I think they’re afraid of giving Amy the feelings she should have – because it would take them to a very real emotional place, and the feelings might suffocate the comedy (though, it’s got to be possible to write Amy losing it on Dan the way he deserves and still be funny) – so we end up with a story structure that only makes sense if feelings that we never see depicted are driving Amy’s decisions. The show’s basically eating its own tail.

7. They tried the “Selina makes fun of millennials” angle in season 6 and it wasn’t funny then either. If they must do this, I wish they’d find a way to at least be witty about it. Julia Louis-Dreyfus almost makes it work, but she is doing some heavy lifting.

8. Selina and Tom James. “Curse your sudden yet inevitable betrayal.” How on earth did she not see that coming?

9. Jonah’s wife seems like such a genuinely nice person. I’m enjoying the actress.

10. So, did Buddy somehow successfully become Governor after Amy dumped him? That’s how they refer to him in the debate – but he wasn’t Governor when they met, just Secretary of State, so when did he get elected?

11. The Buzzfeed plotline feels…odd, coming so shortly after they fired all of their journalists.

12. If Leon hitting on pregnant Amy is all they’re going to do with that storyline from season 6, I wish they’d never introduced the damn thing. The comedy earlier on in Veep always came from the writers not losing track of the characters as real people, with recognisable psychology, even when they were doing something outlandish – not endlessly amping up their awfulness. It’s like everyone’s on coke.

13. The must cutting satire is the character of Kemi – who’s kind of an amalgam of Obama and Bernie Sanders, and completely, utterly vapid. Which is probably why the show pulls its punches with her – she made me miss Danny Chung precisely because that never happens with him.

14. If anyone has pics of Amy’s abortion outfit, please send them on for Veep style purposes.

Photo

Photo

Veep Spoilers

I have a ton of asks about this, and thought it would be easier to sum them up in one place.  For anyone who is unspoiled, this post should explain it. 

Putting in a cut for anyone who doesn’t want to be spoiled.

TLDR: They do not fill me with optimism, to say the least – but I can accept a lot if it means an end to Pining!Amy.


Okay, so some of this ties into things we’re already aware of, and plays into my sense that the time jumps are the most crucial element in how the story the is playing out.  

Assuming the spoiler is accurate, I see two options for how this could go, though I think one is more likely than the other.  I have a lot of different thoughts on this, so apologies if this is a bit back and forth.

One
In the flash forward at the end of the series, Dan and Amy are separated, and Dan is married to a twenty-two year old.

I don’t love this for a number of reasons.  But, as I said last night, the only reason I can think of to introduce such a big change at the last minute is to dramatically undercut everything that came before. If Dan continues to be an irredeemable pig right up until the last moment in the ‘present’ having such a last minute reveal doesn’t change our perception of anything – it merely confirms it.

The appeal of this as a story decision, in other words, is that it allows the writers to have their cake and eat – they can put Dan and Amy together in the present, even give them some relatively tender and sincere moments, safe in the knowledge that they will also be confirming their mutual terribleness in the end.  (Though, as always, I would love to know what Amy is supposed to have done that is so awful?  Sure, she says dreadful things, and she’s abrasive as all hell, but within the world of the show that is hardly an outstandingly bad trait.  I cannot get my head around how that is in any way equal to Dan’s relentlessly heartless treatment of every single woman who has the misfortune of meeting him and being attractive).

David Mandel worked on Seinfeld, which I know had a policy of “no hugging, no learning,” so I can see how it would be appealing to him as a structure. I can’t say that I am terribly fond of it though.  

To digress slightly, it reminds me of the way Alien 3 so callously disposed of Hicks and Newt.  Now, defenders of that decision point to the Alien universe being dark and violent, with terrible things happening to people all the time.  The problem is – and this applies to Veep and Game of Thrones and Alien and half a dozen other stories – the ‘world’ of the story having particular traits is not an excuse for the creators of the story to disregard basic dramatic logic or character consistency.  Even in a world that is utterly illogical, characters need to behave in a coherent manner.

So, to do all the work that is required to put Dan and Amy together, to develop Dan to the point where we can feel not utterly miserable at the thought of him and Amy as a couple, only to then pull the rug out from under the audience at the last possible minute just feels cheap to me.  Like, sure, you’ll get a laugh – but the trade-off is that any sense of the characters’ actions in the preceding seven years having meaning will be lost.  It will be a reductio ad absurdam – Dan will not have changed – he will still, twenty plus years after he’s introduced to us, be the scumbag who exploits extremely young women and taunts Amy because she dares to have feelings.

Not only that, but by having him relentlessly go after women in their late teens and early twenties, they will really have doubled-down on making him effectively Jonah.  To the point where it feels like character assassination?  Like, when Dan was introduced, he was the kind of charming asshole where you knew that somewhere in Amy’s head in every interaction, deep, deep down, there was a voice saying “Don’t sleep with him, don’t sleep with him, whatever you do, don’t you dare sleep with him.”  Marrying a twenty year old at fifty isn’t remotely charming – it just turns him into the kind of man women steer clear of in bars. It makes him gross. (Especially, I should say, if he and Amy have a daughter, which seems at least possible – his wife would be…maybe six or seven years older than his child, at most).

If they must go down this route, I want them to turn Dan into Tom James, not Andrew.  And that does seem at least a possibility to me, that there will be the implication that, despite having other partners, and marriages, and careers, they are still hung up on each other, ceaselessly drawn back to each other’s orbit no matter what.  That seems to be as close as Veep can come to creating a genuine romance.

Or, there is the most palatable version of this, in which Amy has moved on, found happiness (either alone or with a partner), and Dan is the one pining away – still acting out in ridiculous ways because after knowing each other for more than twenty years, he still can’t express his feelings to her in an acceptable way. 

After so many infuriating scenes of Pining!Amy, there would be some satisfaction in that.

Two
Dan really spirals after Amy goes to work for Jonah, marries someone in a fit of pique or pig-headedness.  Now, if there is a time-jump somewhere in the middle of the season (between 7.03 and 7.04 seems like the most likely place, though we don’t know anything concrete about any episodes past 7.04) we might not necessarily have to see his wife terribly often – perhaps not even find out about her until the final episode.

Maybe he comes back, with a slightly more rational (that is, connected to reality) attitude, and we find out at the end of the season that the reason is that marrying someone and having to arrange a hasty divorce, was the cold hard dose of consequences he’s needed for a long, long time.  And, having hit rock bottom, he’s finally starting to grow up, just a little.

I think that is a possible story – by which I mean, I can see a way to write it that allows Dan and Amy to stay substantially in character.

But, I don’t know that it’s a likely story.  I don’t know that it appeals to the instincts of Veep’s writers – it doesn’t seem like the kind of narrative joke they like to construct.

That said, I may well be wrong.  I may be very wrong.  We don’t know anything concrete yet, which I would urge everyone to remember.  

It’s more important to me how they tell this story, that they put an end to Pining!Amy and Dan’s abuse of her, that they stop having him take her for granted and treat her as though she’s undesirable.  Because the framing at the moment is pushing him well over the line into being abusive – if he continues to treat her so nastily, I’m not going to want her anywhere within a hundred miles of him.

A resolution to their story, and Amy getting to feel like a desirable, attractive woman for the first time in god knows how long, is the extent of what I need the show to give me.