HBO’s Veep is a show that took me a while to warm up to. In fact, I’m not even sure the phrase “warm up to” can apply to a show that is so cold and unsparing in its satire as to never rely on a warm, gooey center to engage the audience. To laugh at Veep is to ridicule all of its characters. No one is competent save Sue Wilson (Sufe Bradshaw) who has emerged as the closest thing the show offers to an audience surrogate.
But it takes a great deal of talent to intelligently craft a menagerie of buffoons and to breathe enough life into them to make them believable. Julia Louis-Dreyfus leads the class with an Emmy-award winning performance that somehow keeps getting better and better each season. Tony Hale (also a surprise Emmy winner) and Anna Chlumsky have also received recognition for their sterling supporting work.
It is time, however, for Reid Scott to join the ranks of the Emmy blessed and receive a nomination for Best Supporting Actor, Comedy. Over the course of Season 3, he took his character, Dan Egan, on an incredibly fertile comedic journey from the highs of serving as campaign manager to the humiliating lows of a very public dethroning. It was a challenging season for Scott and, unlike his Veep persona of Dan Egan, he carried it off with confidence and authority.
When first introduced, Egan was the good-looking, confident, cock-sure deputy director of communications who held himself above his counterparts. He was (and remains) the ladder climber. The one who would step on the mothers of those he perceived to be impediments to his success. With Season 3, Egan achieved his ambitions and was named campaign manager for the ill-advised Selena Meyer presidential campaign.
The biggest surprise, perhaps only to Egan, was that the job of campaign manager was one for which he was incredibly ill suited, a fact that brilliantly played out in the episode Special Relationship. Scott begins the episode in traditional rapid-fire Egan style but gradually heightens it as he continuously chugs Red Bull. Call him Raging Red Bull. As Egan’s loses his grasp on even the simplest photo ops, he becomes increasingly unstable, eventually experiencing a massive panic attack.
His crowning achievement in the episode, one in which he fully evokes the exposed nerve that is Dan Egan, is one of his final scenes. Chlumsky’s Amy waits with him in the hospital as he pours his heart out in a moment of vulnerability. Yet, mere seconds later, she gleefully tells him that Selena has fired him as campaign manager. The look that Scott conveys in that moment of realization somehow brilliantly combines shock, humiliation, defeat, and a tiny pinch of relief. It’s a great moment of uncertainty for the Man with the Plan.
In the next episode, Egan returns after a brief time out sporting a relaxed attitude and a full beard. He spouts free-spirited, easy-going platitudes to his former rivals until he eventually melts down into the Egan we know. Even though it was a brief transformation, Egan’s panic attack gave Scott the ability to show how much he’s grown as an actor. Scott’s Season 3 Dan Egan feels like an accomplished parody of the Tom Cruise action star persona, all macho bravado and confidence hiding insecurities and fear of failure beneath.
While the men of Modern Family have dominated the Supporting Actor Comedy category over the past few years, it’s time to let in new blood and celebrate Reid Scott along with the brilliant Tony Hale. Hale would have my vote to win for the season finale nosebleed scene alone, but Reid deserves a nomination for rising to the considerable challenge of escalating an already hyperactive character to the point of self-destruction.
And to celebrate that, I say “Daniwah!”