Category: veep

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How invested are you in Dan and Amy compared to other ships?

Interesting question anon – I will now attempt an interesting answer.

As a whole, shipping isn’t the primary lens through which I watch a show – many of the programmes I really love, to the point of being evangelical about them, (The Wire, BSG, Mindhunter, The Thick of It, Slings and Arrows) simply don’t lend themselves to being watched that way.

The shows where a relationship really did form a substantial part of my investment – or even all of it in some cases – are pretty limited. Josh and Donna on the West Wing, Kara and Lee on BSG, Nick and Jess on New Girl, Dan and Blair in Gossip Girl, and of course Dan and Amy.

But I didn’t get invested in those couples to the point of writing lengthy fanfics about them, that’s for sure.

I think it’s partly that the Dan/Amy dynamic really effectively captures one the Beatrice/Benedick – bickering couple with an undefined past dynamic that I am an absolute sucker for. I think it’s at least arguable that Reid Scott and Anna Chlumsky are the strongest pairing out of the bunch in terms of acting skills (I’d maybe make an exception here for Bradley Whitford and Janel Moloney, but the writing for Donna was never as rich as what Amy got, so she didn’t get the same opportunities to show off).

I think there’s a basic factor of when I started watching Veep – very shortly after the Brexit referendum. The weeks following the referendum were particularly exhausting and horrible for me work wise, so Veep provided very much needed escapism. (Which is ironic given how the show ended).

And it also happened a time when I was really struggling with my original writing, which might be why I was drawn back to writing fan fiction after more than ten years.

Beyond that, I think how Veep ended the Dan-Amy relationship becomes a weird spur to further investment. Because I have, from time to time, really liked couples that didn’t end up together. But I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a show so aggressively rewrite its central pairing in the way Veep did.

It still feels down right insulting. Every time Mandel comes out with another “there were never any feelings there” or “they were never a realistic possibility” I feel like I’m being asked who do I believe – him or my lying eyes?

Bear in mind, as soon as we heard there was going to be a time jump, I assumed the show would play Dan and Amy out in the present, and then show us them divorced years in the future – it seemed the obvious have your cake and eat it ending for the show. So, I was never wedded to them ending up together in the way I might have been.

My problem with it has always been the way they broke them apart – which involves removing all of Dan’s recognisable personality and a substantial chunk of Amy’s, in return for a plot where a woman is repeatedly abused and humiliated for apparently not being sufficiently fuckable or maternal, and we are encouraged to laugh at her abuse on those same grounds.

The sheer spiteful misogyny of the plot will never stop bothering me. I might not have wanted a plot where Amy sets herself free from Dan’s abuse through an abortion, but I would have got behind it – arcs that demonstrate why abortion is a good thing for women are few and far between after all – but a plot where she is repeatedly punished by the narrative for wanting her baby and for having an abortion is not one I can ever accept, irrespective of who she ended up with. (A show and a writer with any actual ballswould have written an abortion storyline that treated it as a positive thing within Dan and Amy’s relationship – the final seal on their romantic partnership – rather than constructing a plot which presumed that an abortion is an inherently terrible experience for a woman, and one she would only choose under immense pressure)

So, I don’t think there’s any way round the fact that Veep made me angrier than I have been in a long time, and that anger has become a spur to creative endeavour.

In other words, if Veep had given them an ending I could accept, you almost certainly wouldn’t have got the Long and Winding Road – I wouldn’t feel the same need to rewrite the show’s ending into one I personally find acceptable. (Not all fan fiction does this, of course, but I think it’s fair to say that all the work I’ve published since season 7 has in some way been re-writing what I consider the show’s faults).

This comment on a review of a Disney film explains so many of my issues with the way Veep used Richard in the final two seasons.

Do not get me wrong. I love Samuel Richardson – his performance in Veep as an amiable imbecile is exquisite at every point.

But it worked for me in the earlier seasons because everyone responded to Richard with the piss-boiling frustration his character would naturally inspire.

The moment people start reacting to Richard as though he is actually competent or useful or interesting, I start to become annoyed with him.

And it makes me feel terrible, because Samuel Richardson is so damn good. The bit in season 6 where he pulls out his “tourist hat” or says he’s standing in the corner so he won’t show up in the painting…his line delivery is flawless. I laughed so hard I sprained something.

But mostly I don’t find Richard in the later seasons to be particularly funny, and it’s entirely down to bad writing.