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Monday, April 14, 2014

"I Hate That You Learned English From Pornography:" Why VEEP's Sue Wilson Throws The Best Shade

You know a character is great if you are still laughing at something they said on an episode you watched a week ago. That's how it is for me with Sue Wilson (Sufe Bradshaw) on VEEP (one of the best shows on TV that you are probably not even watching). While the HBO comedy (now in its third season) is an embarrassment of riches in terms of talent and classic one-liners led by the always hilarious Julia-Louis Dreyfus, there is something particularly refreshing about Sue's character. As secretary to the Vice President (Dreyfus) and only African-American on her staff, she has managed to quietly but assuredly become the curt voice of reason in an office where the incompetence is staggering. Without losing an ounce of her comedic flair.

Keenly avoiding the "angry black woman" trope so prevalent in pop culture, Bradshaw's Sue has mastered the art of looking at her office cohorts and through them at the same time as a way of reminding them of their unimportance. As capable as they sometimes are, Amy (Anna Chlumsky), Gary (Tony Hale), Dan (Reid Scott) and Mike (Matt Walsh) rarely have their sh*t together. Which provides the basis of the comedy that pokes as much fun at the world of high-stakes politics as it does office politics. Instead of assimilating into the loopy nature of her fellow office workers, Sue instead found a way to make fun of them without even noticing that she is.

Whether it's because they're too preoccupied with the mild but toxic fires they have to put out on a daily basis or their own personal trivialities, these cutthroat yet lovable characters have overlooked the fact that not only is Sue always five steps ahead of them, but even when she does create a small mess of her own it's extinguished before anyone can even get on her about it. She may not have the time to coddle pesky reporters, engage in mindless small talk or euphemisms, but she is always available for a quick eye roll, ego-diminishing retort and reality check. All with a cool temper, of course, because Sue is nothing if she isn't extremely professional (but in an office environment so entrenched in shade being thrown this way and that by everyone on the hierarchical ladder, her blunt approach is simply means of survival).

As the "Lean In" culture continues to march on, we can all rest assured that Sue Wilson will not be left out in the cold. Even outside the office she is still master of her domain.

VEEP airs Sundays at 10:30pm on HBO. 


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