Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Laughing at politics

AS I WAS INUNDATED with news of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee crucifying Vice President Binay for his alleged involvement in an overpriced parking space or airconditioned chicken farms, I discovered the HBO original production called Veep. Having resolved not to get too involved with national politics, I considered Veep a welcome diversion.

Now on its third season, the series is about US Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her inefficient, overly-competitive, yet fiercely loyal staff. The Veep's goal is, of course, to be President; but just at the time when everything seems to be going well, something is bound to get wrong: an erroneously signed card for a departed senator, a random racist remark that gets publicized, a political faux-pas that turns into a meme. Madame Vice President's frustration with everything else on her life also surfaces: her overly obedient daughter Catherine for whom she has no time, her adulterous husband who looks like a British novelist, and best of all, her looks.

The series may well be a parody on The House of Cards, only the boss doesn't get what she wants. And this impotence, despite being Vice President of the most powerful nation on earth, mostly because of human frailty or stupidity, forms the foundation of our laughter and delight. We will inevitably share in her frustrations, but we will do so gladly.

I do not think the country is ready for this kind of show: a political comedy. We are far too sensitive, and we do not appreciate irony. It is as if all jokes have to be explained and elaborated on, the surest way to kill its humor. But wouldn't it be fun if we had a show where we can just laugh at the state of our national politics? We have a minefield of comedy material: the incompetence of our government leaders, their badly worded speeches, their obnoxious faces on tarpaulins and ambulances, and their families who are probably just as guilty of corruption as they are.

But I will have to settle with Veep. The writing is amazing, not cerebrally insulting. Consider this:

Mike (Chief of Communications): Which way are you gonna vote?
Selina: The way that my principles and conscience tell me to go.
Amy (the Veep's Chief of Staff): Okay.
Selina: Which way do you think that should be?
It is both comforting and troubling to know that she is just as clueless as the rest of her staff. More here. Warning: lots of profanities.



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