Hale To The Veep
Gary and Selina's relationship is anything but simple, but sometimes Miami Sunburst is all you need.
It's one of the most complicated relationships on television today, and attempting to determine the proper way to approach and dissect it has proven to be a daunting challenge. Selina Meyer and Gary Walsh don't have one relationship: they have several. Veep has presented these two individuals as almost anything but romantic, but here's the thing: Dr. Phil could do two weeks on them and each episode would feel unique. Selina and Gary are employer and employee, they're friendly, they can either play mother and son or queen and subordinate, and, at times, the servant can act like the adult in the room. As Season 4 began a few weeks ago, the relationship moved to an abusive level. For the first time, it was okay to really hate all over President Meyer. Thank God for the cake scene, which was a moment where the show recognized what it had created, and gave the audience a solid, fleeting piece of fan service.
Once, back in Season 2, producers teased a little something-something for about ten seconds, but it was due to alcohol, misunderstandings, and loose lips. Well, for her it was. He'd be all for it, but Elaine/Christine/Selina is a looker, so it's all good G-Money. I see you working. As the phrase says, double-L's sink ships, even those vessels Mike McClintock can't sell but still result in Kent Davison erections.
Selina Meyer and Gary Walsh wouldn't ever be in front of Bob Eubanks on The Newlywed Game, but the word "relationship," like the word "obscene," remains in the eye of the beholder.
1. Mama Meyer & Gary-Boy
Gary treats his boss as if she were less an employer and more of a deity; he dotes on her to an extreme degree and has since moment one. When Dave Foley, as the Finnish First Gentleman, groped the Veep's left boob, Gary was appalled, and his analogies proved it, as he likened the incident to, a sexual 9/11 and a sexual Cuban Missile Crisis at the very least before recommending, "We need to rain down the full might of our nuclear arsenal on Finland."
Gary's ridiculously protective of his gal, but not in a romantic sense. Selina calls him her "angel of baked goods" and talks of how much she values him, telling him that he'll "always be [her] body man." Gary has to fight blushing in embarrassing fashion, but grins like an idiot, which is par for the course. Think of how Hollywood, TMZ, and Worldstar Hip Hop usually treat the "what'd you say about my gammy" or "Koko the Monkey" scenario: Gary would be that dude straight walloping on somebody in line at a D.C. Chipotle.
Gary also wants to please Selina at all costs. When he fucks up, he's devastated, and in this way, he sometimes channels his former alter ego, Buster Bluth. Gary is a much different Tony Hale role, but there are times when the lines are blurred, and the mean side of Julia Louis-Dreyfus matches up nicely with the mean side of Jessica Walter. It hasn't happened yet, but would it feel out of place for Gary to buy a ten-speed Schwinn and try to get Selina's attention by attempting a wheelie while eating a vanilla cone?
Pretty much every single time Gary has totally shit the bed has been a direct product of attempting to go the extra mile for his Khaleesi. He removes refuse from Selina's residence during a garbage strike, takes down a painting that irritates her, suggests a western hat for a BBQ -- all of it stupid but all from the same motive: to please his heroine.
Then, there's the watchful eye Gary keeps on Selina when she's around her ex-husband or another man. He isn't jealous of the alphas; he just doesn't trust them. He's the son who can't bear to see some rapscallion sully his mother's name and hurt her after she's already suffered in the past. During the family dinner in Season 2, take a look at Gary's hawk-like eyes as he's somewhat out of focus in the background. He knows Andrew might make Selina cry. He won't allow it to happen.
2. Incompetent Leader & Soft-Spoken Savior
Throughout the first season, we see Gary holding the answers to Selina's public intelligence. That sounds like it should be in a piece about B613, but in this case, "intelligence" is best described as the reason why the VP seems to have any semblance of a brain in public. As she meets fellow politicians, members of the community, or even certain celebrities, Walsh feeds her every bit of intel on almost everybody, except Roger "Dobby" Furlong. He's a walking index card, and when he isn't, it's usually because he's given her a stack of actual index cards.
The Office succeeded because of its adherence, even if coincidentally, to Bahktin's theory of the subversion of hierarchy and the necessity of Carnival. The world loved the ignorance of David Brent and Michael Scott and reacted positively when Scott became a human being and knocked off the slicked-back hairstyle of the mediocre first season. Here, the vice president is kind of a jackass-ette; not a complete numbskull but a charade of a leader, and arguably her secretary and her personal assistant are the two most capable people on her entire staff. Gary carries around a plethora of potential lipstick choices and knows what she should wear and even has St. John's Wort when she barrels through a glass door.
As usual in these situations, the dolt takes the subordinate for granted; made patently obvious through the writing, until a "eureka" moment where the show reveals the value. The aforementioned scene from Season 4's second episode is that ray of sunshine, a feel good moment in living rooms and on the screen. An earlier key scene that illustrates this portion of the cow stomach of TV couplings comes late in the second season after Selina announces to the staff that she isn't going to stay on the ticket going forward and that they should begin looking for work. When the plans change and her presidential bid begins, she finds out her Mr. Everything had made alternate arrangements for his future. Her reaction: "I didn't mean you, Gary."
3. One Child, One Adult
It doesn't matter which one is which, because Veep has presented both sides of the equation on numerous occasions. More often than not, Selina is the adult and Gary is acting the son. He's either trying to please her or help her or impress her. As she recovers and ends up high as a box kite after the glass door incident, the two talk about Gary's family for the first time. She cares about his life because she's loaded, and he buys it and loves every minute of it. Is he close to his parents? In a perfect illustration of his behavior toward the then-VP, he tells her:
He's always been tight with the matriarch and a disappointment to the patriarch. Most times in life, things just don't change.
But, the flipside is the one that's been much more fun to watch. Selina smokes when she goes overseas on major trips, and Gary doesn't like it at all. He has seen her struggle with withdrawal when she stops; he's watched her cough and scolded her. He attempts to fight her cigarette fling off at every turn. He gives in, but in a "you'll shoot your eye out" Christmas toy firearm purchase style. He picks out her clothes, he knows what colors will pop, and he helps her with her dress. Is he her Downton Abbey-esque valet, dad to her daughter, or wise friend/rebellious risk-taker. It's the exact opposite of that mom-son concept. Selina and Gary make up a portion of that math equation where you're asked to determine how many different combinations can come from a list of six numbers.
4. Chester Tate & Benson (But Without the Cordiality)
Here, we're talking Batman and Alfred, but where Bruce Wayne is a complete dillhole. Benson had to deal with the stupidity and eccentricity of his boss, who took him for granted and acted like a douchebag most of the time. This is the unfortunate (or smart) side of Selina that has never gotten to know Gary, never actually been out to dinner to talk to him one on one, and who acts like he's almost pathetic when the two are in public.
Selina took Gary for granted in a way that felt almost sinful to open our current season. He isn't the sharpest spoon in the drawer; we get that. He's also not an imbecile. He's been awfully helpful to her with those little things that make all the difference between success and failure. When he needed to talk to her, she wasn't available. When he felt he would be helpful in her presence, she closed the door. In the past, she at times had started taking advice on his specialties from others, and basically treated him like he didn't exist. He would be disappointed or frustrated, but always stayed steadfast. He didn't ever complain and he remained by her side, right up until a few weeks ago.
It was pissing me off just how jerkish Meyer's character had become towards the keeper of the satchel, and I'm sure I wasn't alone. She was basically calling him a dumbass to his face and humiliating him in the process. He was doing what he thought she wanted and she wasn't communicating anything with him. It was intensely frustrating and becoming a nuisance to the humor and pace of the show. It felt like Keith Morrison should be narrating some of this on a Friday night Dateline episode. Alas, the writers knew what they were doing all along and took their audience to that breaking point, before finally giving us the muscle relaxer behind their backs. At that moment in Season 4's "East Wing," when Selina calls him "unimportant," they realized it was both appropriate and necessary for Gary Walsh to nail the proverbial Theses on the figurative wall. This time, however, the end game wasn't Lutheran; it was Leviathan.
"In a relationship, it's just good to clear the air," Selina finally grants, chastened at last.
"We should do that from time to time."
5. Oh, There's Also This...
Presented without unnecessary editorial comment, as the dialogue speaks for itself.
Gary: You need to be really careful, sweetie.
Selina: Gary, you just called me "sweetie."
Gary: Oh my god, I'm sorry! [laughing] That's what I call Dana.
Selina: Did you ever call Dana "ma'am"?
Gary: I did once and it was awful.
Selina: If I were drunk right now, would you kiss me?
Selina: No Gary, I'm kidding.
Gary: Right. [She walks away.] Can I get a drink?
One comment. Selina was rocking the red dress with which, Gary says, she can't wear a bra. Poor guy.
Veep has always been about the insults and the one-liners and the humiliations and the completely inappropriate comments. It moves a mile a minute and, in almost every case, the characters are horrific. The one relationship that does show some form of purity, though it's inconsistent, is this weird dynamic between Selina and Gary. It's the Russian nesting doll of premium television comedy, helping to break the negativity through more innocent humor, friendship, and trust.
Gary Walsh is the singular character on the show who isn't in it for some kind of personal gain. The reason Gar-Lina works so well is because the viewer knows this guy really likes his job, loves whom he works for, and wants to do well for her for relatively selfless reasons. Politics is such an ugly game, and the show depicts it in that fashion. The one exception is the soft-spoken, awkward Swiss army knife that whispers into Selina Meyer's ear. It's hard to imagine Veep without Gary, and even more difficult to consider the absence of that insane, wonderful twosome.
Now, would you like to join us for some cake? It's light sponge.