You love them, we love them, and it’s high time Emmy recognized them. We’re talking about the TV actors and actresses who have yet to be recognized by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, despite drawing us in week in and week out with their awe-inspiring ability to make us laugh, cry, or a weird combination of both. So every day here at Hollywood.com, we’re going to be saluting those on the small screen who deserve an Emmy nomination, longshot status be damned. Today, we cast our ballot for Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a woman that’s no stranger to praise. Sure, we can get into the blah blah blahs about Seinfeld and all that, but why dwell on her past greatness when her current is even more hilarious? Enter: Veep, and enter Selina Meyer, Vice President of the United States and her clumsy staff of never-cans and dopey try-hards. Now this is a role worth Emmy gold — and she deserves one right out the gate.
The role of Vice President has seemingly become a position more known for its political gaffes and comedic accidents rather than political prestige thanks to the you-can’t-make-this-upness of Joe Biden, and well, that whole Sarah Palin thing. Plus, the job itself is second fiddle — no one dreams of becoming the Vice President; no, no, no… those who dream, dream a bit higher than that. Hence, it’s easy to see how that chip meets shoulder attitude can make itself known. My fellow Americans, meet comedy gold.
And putting Louis-Dreyfus at the center of the role is a masterstroke, as her comedic deft and sense of control is perfect for the show’s quick and abrasive humor. She’s also a producer on the show; look at all the hats she’s got on that well-coiffed head of hers (metaphorically)! But her real talents shine in her exacting and impressive balance on the comedy of power.
Her Selina Meyer is a women perceived to have so much power, but, is constantly being under-minded. The power she does have, is in the office and her tyranny of humor is best when she is suffering a crisis. The volleying play of power/no-power in the season finale was breathtakingly hilarious, and also daringly perceptive of the way it must feel to be in such a position — or any position — where you are clawing your way to the middle. Mediocrity and the District. Her poll numbers lower, she has Rodney Dangerfield-levels of respect from the man who put her in the role. “Sue, did the President call?” “No.”
And then there are the maneuvers. You know what I mean, too — those things that politicos do to deflect the “regular normals” (which is also another brilliant so-funny-it-feels-true take-down) in all situations. The smile to “take back to his boss,” or my personal favorite, the “Ma’am, it’s the President” faux-call. All of these (and there are so many more) seem to point to the divisive, and well, political nature of politics. Selina Meyer lives in a world where even choosing an ice cream flavor is a political statement, and needs its own brainstorm. If she cries once in a day it’s great, twice and it’s crocodilian, and three times is damn-near 5150 status. And the absurdity in it all comes from the seeming truth of the situations. So well-calculated as to come off casual, to send a message (no matter how clouded that message might be at times). This is happening in politics in this country, right now. I’m sure of it, and that’s why it’s so perfect. Somebody did their homework on this show, and it is paid in full when put in the hands of Louis-Dreyfus. Everything is in a constant state of tug-o-war, mostly having to do with people exerting as much power as they can, when they can, and keeping-score on their very empty scorecards. Because ultimately, nobody’s winning. And that’s what makes it so brilliant. Louis-Dreyfus is constantly struggling to win — pinned up against her own limitations and powerlessness in the grand game of Washington, DC.
Her staff of barely-lovable (with the exception of very-lovable Gary, played by Tony Hale) bozos plays perfectly into her struggle for power and clarity; They do the calisthenics of her work — trying desperately to think up the next great power play to help her (but ultimately, them) make her tenure seem like a shiny, legacy-leaving beacon. Each one of them — her Chief of Staff Amy (Anna Chlumsky), Communications Director Mike (Matt Walsh), ambitious staff newcomer Dan (Reid Scott), and the stony secretary Sue (Sufe Bradshaw) — is in a constant state of flux. (Well, except for Sue, but that’s because Sue is the queen bee and she knows exactly what she’s doing and how to do it.)
And Louis-Dreyfus has been in the game for ages, so she knows how to jump from cold to vulnerable to tedious to frazzled to sad to uppity to out-of-touch with a fluidity that is rarely seen in even the most practiced of dancers. Timing is everything in comedy, and when your comedic platform discusses the frenzied, constantly-moving multi-headed beast that is politics in America, well, you’ve got your work cut out for you. But not our girl Julia — oh no, no, no. She is in charge of at least one thing as Selina Meyer, and that is her comedic brilliance. There’s no better sort of take-down than a comedy take-down, and home-girl is giving it to us. So, please, Emmy voters, cast your ballot for this Best Actress and get our girl a shiny new statue, stat. It’s your civic duty.
[Image Credit: HBO]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes