'Veep' Winning The 2016 Golden Globe For Best TV Comedy Would Speak Volumes About The State Of Women In Politics
There are so many things to love about Veep that I hardly know where to begin. This show has everything going for it — brilliant writing, stellar performances from Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her character's long-suffering staff, and just the right amount of physical comedy. Plus, the one-liners are so hilarious that I strive to incorporate them into my conversations at least once a day. So, there are plenty of reasons that Veep deserves to win the 2016 Golden Globe for Best TV Comedy, but one stands out above the rest for its very real potential impact.
Since 2016 is an election year and Hillary Clinton is currently the Democratic frontrunner, it's worth taking a close look at the show's depiction of politics — specifically, what it's like to be a woman in a position of political power. And, despite the fact that Veep is firmly rooted in the insular world of D.C., it also raises important points about the sexism women encounter in many workplace environments that would be elevated if the HBO series were to win the Golden Globe this year.
It's no easy feat to make an important statement about women in politics and keep the audience in stitches. Here's how Veep is addressing real issues through comedy that deserve to be pushed into the spotlight.
It's A Surprisingly Accurate Depiction Of D.C.
There's no shortage of political dramas on TV — but Washington insiders have said that Veep provides the most accurate portrayal of what it's actually like to work in politics day-to-day. At 2014 Paleyfest, Louis-Dreyfus and showrunner Armando Iannucci said they were surprised by feedback from Capitol Hill staffers that the show is, in fact, painfully accurate.
In June 2015, Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior advisor to President Obama, penned an essay for Grantland explaining why Veep is more realistic than dramas like House of Cards and The West Wing. Pfeiffer writes that:
...most importantly, Veep gets the absurdity of our current politics exactly right. In last Sunday’s episode, we heard the White House chief of staff respond incredulously to a member of Congress, “You make it sound as if there’s a correlation between what should happen and what actually happens.” That’s our discourse in 2015 in a nutshell. In a time of great challenge, our politics is too often pulled by some sort of tractor beam to the realm of the absurd. The episode in which the Meyer administration becomes embroiled in a political firestorm because they removed the only painting by a Native American from the White House seems ridiculous on its face. It isn’t. The Obama White House has spent much of the last six years being attacked for removing a bust of Winston Churchill — yes, a statue of a world leader from another country.
Pfeiffer is not the first insider to publicly weigh in. David Rothkopf, a former member of the Bill Clinton administration, ranked 10 D.C.-based shows based on accuracy, authenticity, entertainment value, and quality. His article, which appeared on ForeignPolicy.com, chose Veep as number one. Since the show is so accurate to the political world, it makes an important statement about what Washington is really like — and a Golden Globe would be a great way to legitimize that.
It's Especially Relevant As We Approach The 2016 Presidential Election
Since Hillary Clinton will most likely be the Democratic nominee in this year's presidential election, a show about the challenges faced by a female VP-turned-President is more relevant than ever — so there's really no better year for Veep to bring home its first Golden Globe. Regardless of which candidates you may choose to support, it's important to acknowledge that Clinton faces some unique challenges that are non-issues for men. As Louis-Dreyfus told Marie Claire, the plotline about Selina's haircut was a nod to some ridiculous feedback Clinton has received: "I mean, Hillary Clinton has gotten so much sh*t for her hairstyles over the years. Which is remarkable when you consider what it is she does! But hair, for some reason, is a really big deal." Yes, Veep is a comedy, but it deserves major credit from the Hollywood Foreign Press for exposing the absurdity of how female politicians are critiqued — because these comments would be downright comedic if they weren't so infuriating.
Hairstyles aside, Selina's gender constantly comes into play when she's dealing with policy. In Season 3, the President throws her for a loop by announcing he's become pro-life — which means she needs to make a statement STAT. We learn Selina's actual stance when she says that: “If men got pregnant you could get an abortion at the ATM. Let’s state the obvious.” As she and her staff pull an all-nighter, Mike suggests that she preface her comments with the phrase, "as a woman." Selina fires back that, “I can’t identify as a woman! People can’t know that." And it rings painfully true — despite the advances women have made in politics, being female is still viewed as an Achilles heel in many ways. A Golden Globe win would be a great way to acknowledge that, regardless of whether or not you support a female politician, they consistently must take their gender into account when making decisions due to unfair biases.
It Deals With Gender Inequality On A Broader Scale
Although it's a comedy, Veep doesn't shy away from the harsh reality that sexism and misogyny are inescapable. This is something that we should all be aware of, and a Golden Globe would help validate the point — because, despite being one of the most powerful women in the world, Selina finds herself dealing with sexual harassment. She refuses to label herself as a victim in this scenario, but the plotline about the Finnish Prime Minister's husband is an important one. As a refresher, it begins in Season 2 when Selina and her staff travel to Helsinki to negotiate a trade agreement. During an evening event, she steps outside for a cigarette break. When Osmo Häkkinen joins her, he quickly transitions from small talk to groping her breast.
When Selina tells her staff, Amy is quick to decide that the event needs to be kept under wraps — for Selina's sake. "It would be all you're remembered for," she points out. While Osmo is clearly the guilty party, it's Selina's reputation that would be affected if the incident was made public. Unfortunately, this sort of occurrence is all too realistic for women, regardless of their careers, as a poll from the Huffington Post and YouGov found that workplace sexual harassment is more common among women than men, with one in five women saying they'd been harassed by a boss, and one in four by a co-worker. And of all respondents who had experienced sexual harassment, 70 percent never reported it.
Veep's example of sexual harassment is referenced again in Season 3 when Osmo makes another guest appearance. When Gary provides Selina with an unnecessary reminder of what happened in Finland, she responds that, "How could I forget that? I have a thumb print there." No matter how tough and resilient a woman is, being sexually violated is impossible to simply shake off. Instances like this drive home the point that even women who are in the most powerful positions are not immune from sexual harassment. I believe that by acknowledging this reality, we're more likely to be sensitive to ourselves and people in our lives who find themselves in similar situations — so Veep's statement about workplace sexual harassment is an extremely important one that shouldn't go unnoticed.
So, members of the Hollywood Foreign Press, what do you say? I think it's definitely time to give Veep its much deserved Golden Globe. Not only is the writing and acting top-notch, but it sends an important message about what it's like to be a woman in politics — one that as many people as possible need to hear in 2016. Images: Patrick Harbron/HBO; f***yeahjld/Tumblr (2); Giphy (2)