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.