Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
First Reviews: 'Hail, Caesar!' Is the Coens at Their Best First Reviews: 'Hail, Caesar!' Is the Coens at Their Best A.O. Scott and Why It's a Critic's Duty to Be Wrong A.O. Scott and Why It's a Critic's Duty to Be Wrong Kristen Wiig's 'AbracaDeborah' Is the Non-Existent Sundance Movie Everyone's Talking About Kristen Wiig's 'AbracaDeborah' Is the Non-Existent Sundance Movie Everyone's Talking About Film Writers Narrowly Escape Tragedy in Sundance Accident Film Writers Narrowly Escape Tragedy in Sundance Accident Is There More to Louis C.K.'s 'Horace and Pete' Than Its Surprise Release? Is There More to Louis C.K.'s 'Horace and Pete' Than Its Surprise Release? Natalie Portman's Doomed Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Gets Shot Down by Critics Natalie Portman's Doomed Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Gets Shot Down by Critics New Classics: Greg Mottola's 'Adventureland' New Classics: Greg Mottola's 'Adventureland' 'Manchester by the Sea,' Indiewire's Sundance Critics Poll Winner, Is Part Tragedy, Part Farce 'Manchester by the Sea,' Indiewire's Sundance Critics Poll Winner, Is Part Tragedy, Part Farce Daily Reads: Why the Disney Vault Needs to Go Away, How the Republican Primaries Have Broken 'SNL,' and More Daily Reads: Why the Disney Vault Needs to Go Away, How the Republican Primaries Have Broken 'SNL,' and More The Totally Insane Ending to 'Little Boy' Has Critics Fuming The Totally Insane Ending to 'Little Boy' Has Critics Fuming Daily Reads: The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy, When TV Drama Cover The Iowa Caucus, and More Daily Reads: The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy, When TV Drama Cover The Iowa Caucus, and More New Classic: Asghar Farhadi's 'A Separation' New Classic: Asghar Farhadi's 'A Separation' Daily Reads: The 'Hollywood Blackout' Controversy at the 1996 Academy Awards, Everybody's a Critic and That's How it Should Be, and More Daily Reads: The 'Hollywood Blackout' Controversy at the 1996 Academy Awards, Everybody's a Critic and That's How it Should Be, and More Adam Sandler's 'The Ridiculous 6' Is Getting Some of the Year's Most Hilariously Scathing Reviews Adam Sandler's 'The Ridiculous 6' Is Getting Some of the Year's Most Hilariously Scathing Reviews One of the Best Movies of 2015 Is Now Available On Demand. (Also It's 16 Minutes Long.) One of the Best Movies of 2015 Is Now Available On Demand. (Also It's 16 Minutes Long.) Is 'Horace and Pete' Worth $5? And Who's Asking, Anyway? Is 'Horace and Pete' Worth $5? And Who's Asking, Anyway? Could 'The Hateful Eight' Kill Film Instead of Saving It? Could 'The Hateful Eight' Kill Film Instead of Saving It? 'The Gift': A Great Thriller (Almost) Ruined By a Terrible Ending 'The Gift': A Great Thriller (Almost) Ruined By a Terrible Ending Fear of a Black Dingus: Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight' Fear of a Black Dingus: Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight' 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens': Why Rey's Hypercompetence Is a Feature, Not a Bug 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens': Why Rey's Hypercompetence Is a Feature, Not a Bug

The Subversive Hotness of 'Veep's Selina Meyer

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire July 17, 2014 at 4:00PM

"Veep's" Julia Louis-Dreyfus is better dressed, and better-looking, than any female politician is allowed to be. That's a feature, not a bug.
3


"Veep's" fake vice-president with the United States of America's real one
"Veep's" fake vice-president with the United States of America's real one

If you've watched HBO's "Veep," whose great third season is now available on iTunes, you may have noticed that the show's main character, vice-president Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), is not like real-world politicians. Sure, she's a manipulative backstabber who's more familiar with her polling numbers than the issues of the day, a spineless careerist with no convictions to speak of: That's all familiar enough. But she's also — how shall I put this? — kind of hot.

As a rule, professional actors are better-looking than we normals, but what we might call the Attractiveness Gap is more pronounced when it comes to politics, a profession where physical attractiveness — and, worse, any sign that the female politician in question might give too much thought to her appearance — can be a distinct drawback. As the saying goes, politics is show business for ugly people, and they apparently don't like the good-looking intruding on their turf. 

Sure, it's vaguely ludicrous seeing "Scandal's" hunky President Fitz without his shirt on, but can you imagine a female commander-in-chief, fictional or otherwise, stripped to her skivvies? In one memorable episode from "Veep's" third season, the president's political maneuvering forces Selina to clarify her position on reproductive rights, and her staff quotes a talking point that begins, "As a woman...." Her response was sheer panic: "I can’t identify myself as a woman! People can’t know that. Men hate that. And women who hate women hate that… which, I believe, is most women."

In the Guardian, Anna Hart details the ways in which "Veep's" costume department plays up Selina Meyer's feminine charms, and the prices real-life politicians have paid for showing even an inkling of her fashion sense:

In real life, it doesn't always pay for politicians to be seen to care about their wardrobes. Last year, for example, former secretary of state for Wales Cheryl Gillan was mocked for wearing a mildly interesting leopard print outfit during prime minister's questions last summer, with senior Tory MPs making roaring noises behind her back. Labour's Stella Creasy, too, was criticised by the Sun's political editor for debating Page 3 while wearing a PVC skirt. In the US, the 2008 revelation that Sarah Palin had a $150,000 fashion-and-beauty budget for her vice-presidential campaign was greeted with widespread disgust. Meyer, on the other hand, is fictional, and can get away with dressing as extravagantly as she likes.


As "Veep's" costume designer, Ernesto Martinez, told the New York Times, Selina differs from most real-life politicians in that she's not afraid to flaunt her personal wealth, right down to her Louboutins. The show frequently makes sport of her visceral disgust for the common people whom politicians must ceaselessly pretend they relate to, and her pricey wardrobe is a great way of underlining that disdain.

It would be really interesting if, in a future season, "Veep" tackled the Attractiveness Gap head-on, especially as Selina faces the added pressure of ascending to the highest office in the land. Perhaps she'll squirm in unflattering power suits calculated to portray her newfound gravitas, or maybe she'll follow the suggestion of Hart's Guardian colleague, who tore through the reams of public commentary about Hillary Clinton's appearance with a simple suggestion: "Maybe 2014 doesn't have to be the year of the strong female politician. Maybe it can just be the year of the strong female politician who doesn't give a fuck if you think she's pretty. Who are you, anyway?"


E-Mail Updates