Television viewers these days seem to have an affection for the second in charge, what with Veep winning two Emmys last season and everyone on earth losing their shit over the most recent season of House of Cards. One is a farcical 30 minute comedy, the other a dark and terrifying drama that haunts the dreams of the American people. Or maybe just me, I don’t know.
It’s obvious that these two shows are extremely different, and I, as a child of the nineties, love to learn everything based on what I can absorb from television. Being the flawlessly science-minded person I am, I decided to break down some of the themes in each, so I can learn everything I can about what it’s like to be the Vice President. They’re pretty different, but wherever they converge must be truth, right? It makes perfect sense. Yes, yes it does. Let’s move on. Here’s the breakdown:
HOUSE OF CARDS:
People near the President are taken very seriously
Although he has no official White House title, Raymond Tusk spends all his time near the phone in a dark room, waiting for the President to call so he can whisper an agenda into his ear. A US President with a secret advice hotline sounds more like an SNL skit to me, but Vice President Underwood wastes no time wielding control of the situation, and arguing with Tusk every step of the way.
The President is just a puppet and the VP runs the show
From the moment Frank Underwood was sworn in, he’s had a pretty good grip on the steering wheel. Managing to undermine even Tusk to steer the President in his direction, Underwood is the Jim Henson to the President’s Kermit the Frog. Except, you know, scary.
The VP does terrible things and no one finds out
When he’s not busy throwing his comrades under the bus, the Vice President is doing far worse, for example, throwing Kate Mara onto the train tracks. It’s smart, in a completely amoral kind of way. Why muddy the waters with blackmail and extortion when you can just wipe the slate clean and start fresh? The scary part is no one ever figuring out whodunnit. Between his indiscriminate manipulation and killing cute little Kate Mara among others, we can only hope his web of lies will come crashing down on him. Like…like a house of cards, if you will.
People near the President are not taken seriously at all
The West Wing Liaison, Jonah, or as the office has affectionately named him, ‘Jonads’, is widely considered to be a giant tree of a joke. Although he is the most direct line to the president, as according to Sue, the VP’s secretary, the President never calls, Jonah is treated like the scum of the earth due to his behaving like everybody’s cocky youngest brother.
The VP is just a prop, and the President runs the show
While Selina Meyer struggles to get her name in the history books with one environmental initiative after the other, we get the sense that POTUS is just trying to keep her busy while the grown-ups do the real work. This often results in the Veep pretending to be in the loop when she’s not. Her position isn’t completely superfluous though, as illustrated by my next observation.
The VP flounders while being blamed for everything
Whether taking the heat for POTUS or falling victim to the consequences of her ill-prepared advisors, we spent most of the second season watching the VP squirm in interviews, scream in offices, and sweat in her expertly tailored business suits. She can’t even catch a break at home, taking heat from her ex husband and daughter over the differences between her words and actions, officially making her the black sheep of the White House.
The Vice President has a tall, balding, right-hand man
The sidekick is played by Michael Kelly on House of Cards and Tony Hale on Veep, but whether this man is tasked with covering the VP’s tracks or tracking down the VP’s lipstick, the gravity of their job is obvious, as they’re always looking grim. They have a very serious job because they need to keep the Vice President briefed of all important matters, looking his sharpest, and found not guilty of all the murders. Being close to the VP doesn’t guarantee you’ll be taken care of, though. One misstep and you could wind up dead. Or furloughed.
The Vice President is surrounded by nervous people
This may be because of the stressful quality of a White House position, or because of the aforementioned murders, but at any given time, you will see a herd of office rats running around, speaking in whispers trying to get what they want, or learn what they need, or not be caught, or to catch someone else. Basically, the White House is like Pretty Little Liars, but with old fat men in suits.
The Vice President talks to himself
Frank Underwood breaks the fourth wall and stares deep into our souls like Voldemort, and Selina Meyer mostly just mutters venomous insults under her breath, but it’s pretty clear that regardless of how Biden does it, he’s his own best friend. (Personally, I picture Biden freezing time and making jokes about cute girls, like Zack Morris, but this is pure speculation.)
The Vice President has a serious case of bloodlust
It’s unclear whether or not he acts upon it, but it’s definitely there. Lots of jobs birth a transformative rage in people, anyone who has ever worked in retail knows this, but there’s something especially chilling when that rage comes from someone in such a power position. You get a real sense that somebody is going to pay, whether it be The Better Mara being thrown in front of a train, or a more figurative demise of the VP’s enemies, illustrated by Selina Meyer screaming through clenched teeth, “Someone bring me the chinless head of Roger Furlong.”
And there you have it, just about everything you need to know about the modern Vice Presidency, one hundred percent true, based on unblemished scientific deduction. With both Frank Underwood and Selina Meyer poised for Presidency, stay tuned for lesson two.