Why Amy On Veep Is My Favorite TV Character

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
I don’t think it necessarily says anything good about me that Veep’s Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky) is a TV character with whom I frequently identify. Thankfully, I’m not entirely like the quick-tongued, high-energy, onetime chief of staff and campaign manager for Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) — my insults certainly aren't as good — but I see more of myself in her than in any character on Girls or the ladies of Broad City. Unlike those women, Amy is far from aimless. She works in Selina's service, but is incredibly ambitious. She is a beautiful rarity: a female TV character whose greatest joy is her job, and who’s not punished for it.

For four seasons now — the fifth begins on Sunday, April 24 — Amy has been Selina's always-on-her-phone, right-hand woman, who is by turns a crisis manager and a creator. In the show’s fourth season, she finally gets fed up with Selina’s incompetence and quits her job as campaign manager in a fantastic outburst. “The fact that you are a woman means we will have no more women presidents because we tried one and she fucking sucked,” Amy tells Selina, before storming out. But Amy isn’t gone for long. By the season finale — with the Meyer campaign in a state of crisis on election night — she ends up back beside her boss. That, for Amy, is a happy ending, and it’s an unusual one.
The message Hollywood generally sends to intense women is that they need to chill out a little bit. Their stories usually conclude with them finding some sort of work-life balance. Take, for instance, two characters played by Anne Hathaway. In The Devil Wears Prada, Andy’s big moment comes when she finally throws her phone in a Paris fountain, choosing herself over the needs of her callous, too-demanding boss. More recently, Hathaway played startup founder Jules in The Intern. Jules ends the movie doing tai chi alongside her elderly intern (Robert De Niro), a sign that she’s learned to appreciate life outside her all-consuming job.

God help us if Amy ever ended up in these scenarios. She would sooner drown than willingly letting her phone get wet, and would probably break out in hives at there mere thought of Zenning out with a relaxing martial art. After her speech to Selina near the end of season 4, Amy attempts to go to a spa. She lasts precisely seven minutes. "Sleeping in" to Amy means reading Politico in bed before getting up.

Chlumsky's performance can be stressful to watch. She brings her shoulders up to her ears. She talks with her hands. Amy's body is a mess of contradictions. She's so worked up she's almost paralyzed and yet, can't stop moving. Sue (Sufe Bradshaw), Selina’s secretary, aptly sums up Amy in last season's finale: “She’s a workaholic, works frantically to avoid dealing with her weird mix of lack of self-worth and narcissism. I really like her.”

Same, Sue. Same. Perhaps because of the nature of the HBO series, Amy isn't saddled with the same burden that so many of her fellow TV heroines are these days. She’s allowed to be vicious and relentlessly ambitious without necessarily being branded “unlikable.” (Who, on Veep, is really “likable”? They are all either Machiavellian schemers or buffoons.)

Amy has none of the characteristics that make women acceptable to society. Her maternal instincts are basically nonexistent. She's not really into relationships. Sure, it's fun to hope that Amy and Dan might finally hook up again. Tumblr loves to ship the couple. But those two would kill one another before settling into romantic bliss.

This season opens with Amy back by Selina's side, though in no official capacity. But Amy's efforts to fly under the radar falter when the chance for a recount crops up in Nevada. At first, Amy reluctantly agrees that another woman would be the right one to head up Selina’s efforts in the state. As soon as that person arrives, however, Amy requests her own meeting with the POTUS. Amy takes over. She just can’t sit this one out. And that's the Amy we love.

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