Checking In On Veep, The Big C & Nurse Jackie

HBO’s funny new show Veep wrapped up its first season this week, and next week The Big C will air its season three finale. Both shows have strong female leads and have entertained me, but in very different ways.

These are all shows that I enjoy, but don’t love so much that I Must. Watch. Right. Away. I download, I DVR, I watch on a slow evening when I have nothing else to do. So I haven’t blogged about them regularly, but thought I’d check in now that the seasons have wrapped up to find out what other viewers were thinking.

Veep

The first season of Veep concluded on June 10th with “Tears”, an episode that showed Selina’s reputation as VP crumbling. First she cried in a meeting with a fellow politician, and then upon realizing that the tears humanized her, Amy and Mike manipulated a media interview to make sure she cried on camera again that day.

I liked watching Veep this season. I think it’s a solid, averagely funny show. It doesn’t inspire as much conversation as Girls, which airs before it on HBO, does, and I don’t think the show is as focused or as funny. But I like the quirky group of characters that was developed, and I like how layered the character of Selina is. She’s neither villainous or sympathetic, and I have really appreciated how Julia Louis Dreyfus has played that.

While Veep isn’t as exciting a show as I would have hoped, I will definitely be watching the second season. I liked how this inaugural season was something of a professional and personal tailspin for her, and I want to see where the writers will take that in season two. For me to stay interested, I’d like to see Selina start to do better.

The Big C

Showtime’s The Big C is a show I’ve always been a bit lukewarm about, and I have mixed feelings about the third season. It wrapped up on June 17th with “Fly Away”, an episode that was rather unlike anything else we’d seen from it this season.

There were things I quite liked this season. I’ve enjoyed the maturing of Adam, Cathy’s teenage son. Previously, he was just an unappreciative squirt who wasn’t stepping up to the plate when his family needed him. But the show has skewed so far into the wacky that his behavior now is more justified. His parents are completely crazy, so he started to find solace in a Christian group at school. He seems to care more now about his parents’ illnesses, but he’s also been damaged by all their bullshit.

I also liked the Susan Sarandon guest spot, although I didn’t love Paul’s quick rise to fame as a motivational speaker and the demise of Sarandon’s character was too cheesy for me. Likewise, the adoption storyline felt like something out of a bad soap opera.

For much of the season, Cathy had a renewed sense of hope as her cancer shrunk thanks to a clinical trial. Yet she was still miserable – one of my favorite threads was the fake identity Cathy cooked up for herself for visiting a local British-themed pub. She told them she was a widow, a pretty morose fantasy for a woman whose husband is recovering from a heart attack.

At the end of the season, Cathy and Paul had essentially split. I hope this time it’s for good. This relationship has never felt healthy, and I was honestly a bit disappointed to find out that Paul had survived the heart attack when the season began. I like Oliver Platt, but this character has run his course for me. Cathy had also received the devastating news that her cancer was again growing, and after getting stranded on a fishing boat (long story) she decided to abandon the resort where she was staying with her family, and go on an adventure.

The idea itself was crazy, but The Big C is a crazy show. But the image itself – Cathy running away from all the noise and chaos of life and sailing off into the sunset, that was an interesting image to end the season on.

Nurse Jackie

Nurse Jackie is another half hour Showtime dramedy starring a well-respected actress, and it also aired a season finale on June 17th. I wasn’t sure I was even going to watch Nurse Jackie this season, because I hadn’t loved the last season. The show was beginning to feel repetitive to me – Jackie does drugs, something bad happens, but there are no real consequences. I needed real change this season to stick around, and luckily, I got it.

The season began with Jackie entering rehab. She left early, but she stayed clean and that development is what’s kept me interested. Jackie off drugs is just as – in fact, is even edgier, than Jackie on drugs. She’s going through a divorce and is facing new challenges at work, her best friend is pregnant, her daughter is a brat. Yet she’s managed to stay clean, and it’s been a refreshing change for the show.

I’ve liked a lot of things about this season. I loved the hospital storyline, with Cruz coming in and making massive changes at the hospital and putting Gloria back on the floor. I loved the weird obsession Coop had with being a father figure for O’Hara’s unborn baby. I loved Zoey moving in with Jackie, and the mutually dependent relationship that developed there. Zoey gets to feel she has freedom, but there are still people around to nurture – it’s perfect for her. And in a rare moment of vulnerability, Jackie admitted that she wanted Zoey to stay because she was worried about using drugs again.

This season felt like payoff for watching the whole series up to this point. Jackie’s secrets slowly but surely came out into the open, and it made all of her relationships and friendships more compelling. And Jackie getting fired once she’d gotten her act together, was clean and was running the hospital and smoothly as possible, it was a beautifully unfair twist. The last half of “Handle Your Scandal” really flew by, with Jackie on a post-firing adrenaline rush, O’Hara having her baby and Cruz seeing his son die of a drug overdose.

I have a feeling Cruz may not be back next season (I hear the actor’s been cast on Boardwalk Empire, but he could theoretically do both shows) and I’d be fine with seeing Gloria and Eddie return to the hospital. It won’t be the same, because everything is different now. And I’m actually excited to see what happens next.

OK y’all – do you watch Veep, The Big C or Nurse Jackie? Head to the comments and tell me what you thought of the seasons!


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