June 10th, 2012
Guest post by Hollistic Tendancies
“I need you all to make me have not said that. I need you to have make me unsaid it.”
Ah, here in episode 2 of Veep, we The Thick of It fans are in familiar territory: this could have come from the episode where the press conference had to be about nothing.
And yet, this is again very definitely America.
I can tell because of one simple thing that ends up being a crucial plot point in this episode: sick people go to work. After half a dozen years living in the UK I’m nearly desensitized to this but after an initial shock at how blatantly it flies in the face of logic, productivity and human decency, I’m flooded with a wave of deep familiarity and some terrible conviction that this is the way things really are.
In America, not only can no one afford health care, but also no one gets paid sick leave. Not nearly enough people anyway, so the culture is still: if you’re sick, go to work. If you’re contagious, now everyone’s sick.
No one can afford to be sick.
In America the vulgarity is not in the language, but in the culture.
(A year or two after I stopped living in the US, I fainted and woke up to my husband running to call an ambulance. The first words out of my barely-conscious brain were a panicky “We can’t afford an ambulance!” It’s spooky how ingrained that thinking is.)
Here’s the episode’s Patient Zero, the gold-plated shit-gibbon:
Then, offstage, there’s the next guy: “His Facebook status says ‘May god have mercy on my boxers.’”
The third sick guy cancels a meeting, which gives the Veep two free hours in which she declares “I wanna meet some regular normals” and her team decide to “go normalize with those guys” at a frozen-yoghurt shop.
The gold-plated shit-gibbon earned his name by sneezing on the Vice President, despite her body man throwing a dramatic bodyblock.
The Senator who so named him, I wish there were more senators like him. (“If you can get a Senate reform bill through the place it’s designed to reform, that would be amazing. I mean, that would be like…persuading a guy to fist himself.” Which I think is also relevant for UK readers now that there’s talk of reforming the House of Lords.)
But everything is overshadowed by illness in this episode. (Topically, Amy refers to her relationship with Dan with “We dated for, like, a week. It was like getting over mild food poisoning.”) Senate reform? The Clean Jobs Commission? What kind of yoghurt should the Veep be seen eating? None of that matters when people are saying things like “my ass is like the Thunderdome.”
Soon a real medical crisis intervenes: “The Veep has gone to the White House. The President is having a heart attack. Selina is currently the most powerful woman in the world.”
It doesn’t last long
and Selina’s relegated to the frozen yoghurt again. After a taste of real power – with generals asking her for meetings and being sent to the Situation Room – no wonder the yoghurt turned her stomach.