The trailer for Veep’s seventh and final season has finally dropped and Selina Meyer is just as ambitious — and as unlikable — as ever.
The series picks up with our veep-turned-first-female-president-turned-first-female-ex-president launching a presidential campaign against her former staffer, Jonah Ryan.
Though we get only a glimpse of what we are in store for this season, it appears that Selina knows that this is her last chance to attain the presidency and she is desperate to be the elected leader of the American people. Well, the real American people (whatever that means).
From the trailer, it’s clear that Selina is still pontificating her self-described “feminist” identity. She proclaims, “I shaved my muff in the sink of the old boys’ club!”
As the series comes to a close, I have a sneaking suspicion that Selina still harbors the same narcissism and vulgarity that we’ve grown to love over the years. Yet her unapologetic brand of feminism, however flawed, makes her one of the most compelling female characters depicted on television.
Selina’s complicated relationship with female empowerment continues to be one of the core narratives within the series. It’s clear that Selina considers herself to be a female role model, but she also has zero qualms about using other women as stepping stones to get ahead.
Mostly, feminism is something she sees as a self-serving afterthought. She pulls the “woman card,” so to speak, only when she can directly benefit from it. Conversely, if something doesn’t go her way, she’s quick to proclaim that she’s been discriminated against because of her gender.
The last season specifically focused on Selina as an embodiment of privileged white feminism. Not only does Selina struggle to recognize feminism as a concept past herself, she definitely can’t fathom that the feminist ideology applies to more than just wealthy white women.
When she does choose to extend her activism to include minorities, it’s only for the sake of a photo op. Just as Gary tells her when they visit South Sudan with a trail of TV cameras in tow, she’s “a beautiful western woman helping out world sufferers in a stunning Gucci scarf… Just like Princess Di, but with a better nose.” Hah!
Selina built her career on the foundation of her parents’ cash and connections and much of her success is rooted in her desire to please her parents. In particular, she idealizes her father, who spent his life embroiled in questionable financial dealings and not-so-secret sex scandals.
Selina publicly denounces misogyny, but often reinforces it through her own actions. “We’re not redoing a kitchen here!” she says when someone suggests hiring a female architect to build her presidential library.
By most accounts, Selina would be considered a bad feminist. She is spiteful and conniving and only supports women’s rights when it benefits her own agenda. Yet in her series run she has undeniably paved the way for women’s rights, whether accidentally or not.
As she crassly states in the trailer, she “took a dump on the glass ceiling.”
And it’s true: all other unsavory facts aside, as a politician she’s impactful. In the fictional Veep universe, Selina was the first president to visit Iran since Jimmy Carter in 1977. She was a staunch advocate of the Families First Bill, a bill that proposed the use of tax dollars to help support low-income families. She supported causes like universal child care and adult literacy and she was crucial in the negotiations responsible for freeing Tibet. She became the first female president of the United States, for crying out loud. When it comes to the glass ceiling, she definitely made her errr… mark.
Selina never holds herself to different standards than any male, which is such a refreshing foil to the way society typically treats women, and to the way so many women inherently treat themselves. In a season 3 episode where Selina is forced to take a stance on abortion, she makes a rare acknowledgment of the unfair pressure and dark truth that comes with politicizing her sex: “I can’t identify as a woman… Men hate that. And women who hate women hate that — which, I believe, is most women.”
Roxane Gay’s book, Bad Feminist, says it best,
“I am a bad feminist because I never want to be placed on a Feminist Pedestal. People who are placed on pedestals are expected to pose, perfectly. Then they get knocked off when they fuck it up. I regularly fuck up. Consider me already knocked off.”
Selina also regularly fucks up but hops on the Feminist Pedestal anyway. And ultimately, her refusal to define herself by her womanhood is perhaps as feminist as it gets. She allows herself to be just as insensitive and filthy as any man in the room and she doesn’t give it a second thought.
Yes, her words and actions make her unlikable. But she doesn’t demand to be liked. Rather, she simply demands that we accept her, just as we accept those same actions when they are committed by powerful men every single day.
It’s definitely exhilarating to see such a flawed, complex woman depicted on television — an aging one, to boot — but there’s more to it than that.
There’s a sort of escapist freedom in watching Selina do as she pleases. Selina doesn’t let herself be limited by the same patriarchal societal constructs that most women feel like they have to adhere to. She couldn’t care less about how she’s doing as a *woman* politician. She’s worried about how she’s doing as a politician first and foremost, and I can’t wait to watch her tackle the patriarchy in her own twisted way this final season.