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Where She Leads, I’ll Follow

Where She Leads, I’ll Follow
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Photo Credit: Lacey Terrell/HBO

BY LORRAINE DUFFY MERKL

My Sunday nights just got better now that Julia Louis-Dreyfus has returned in HBO’s Veep.

Last season ended on election night, with President Selina Meyer (Louis-Dreyfus) facing the disappointing truth: the race had resulted in a tie.

Two episodes into Season 5, she could still lose to her opponent, Senator Bill O’Brien (Brad Leland), in a vote-by-vote recount in the House. If that results in another tie, the 20th Amendment states that the Vice President automatically takes the Oval Office. Yes, Selina could actually lose to her charming, as well as undermining, VP, Tom James (Hugh Laurie).

Until then though, Selina’s still the leader of the free world. The Meyer White House stooge-like staff, as usual, is jockeying for position and making more problems than they’re solving for the Commander in Chief.

Mad Men’s John Slattery brings his “Rodger Sterling” swagger to D.C. as Selina’s new boyfriend, which is precarious, since he is also in bed so to speak with her rival, O’Brien.

Not only am I happy to have a show on the air that has a woman my age as the lead, but, welcome the press that’s giving me even more of the Emmy-winning actress.

Her hosting of Saturday Night Live, where she was reunited with former Seinfeld colleague, Larry David, took the show to a new level aka funny, but listening to her on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron made me want to be her friend.

I already had a girl crush from when I saw her with Tiny Fey and Patricia Arquette in the Inside Amy Schumer skit called “Last F**kable Day,” where she admited, “They let me stay f**kable throughout my forties, and into my fifties…I thought US Weekly had made some sort of clerical error.”

I got a taste of what she was really like when she was Jerry Seinfeld’s guest on his web series Comedian’s In Cars Getting Coffee. But it was her conversation with Maron, which showed me that Julia (I can call her that because in mind we’re now BFFs) was genuine, unaffected, pleasant — and my twin.

We’re about the same age and have two children also in the same age groups; as well as husbands we met when we were in our twenties, to whom we’re still married.

We even had similar first-job experiences. Both of us went into our situations – hers at SNL and mine in the world of NYC advertising – harboring fantasies of what it would be like, only to become, not only disappointed, but shocked at how off the mark we were when faced with the realities.

Like me, slow and steady seemed to win the race for Julia, even when it came to her involvement in the show that was a TV game-changer. The character, “Elaine Benes” wasn’t in the Seinfeld pilot, and only added after NBC demanded “a girl” be included in the cast. The sitcom didn’t even find it’s footing until the third season.

When the show that put her on the map ended, she, as I did, jointed the ranks of stay-at-home motherhood. We even had our re-inventions at the same time; just when I was placing journalist on my resume, her CV added the position of producer. She noted to Maron something we should all acknowledge: “I bring experience to projects that’s useful.”

Julia and I do have a few differences: I’m an Upper Eastsider and she resides on the Upper West, although we agree that Manhattan, in general, is way too expensive; and regret giving up the apartments of our younger years, which would probably be worth a small fortune in today’s market.

We’re both native New Yorkers, (although Julia grew up in Washington D.C.) and have to confess that our “wild” youths were pretty mild. She and I also can’t deny that as we’ve gotten older, our patience for just about everything, including the latest technology, is wearing thin.

I may never meet the star, but I think my recent kinship with Julia is nicely summed up by Maron’s observation: “I like you.”

 

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Lorraine Duffy Merkl
Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the novels BACK TO WORK SHE GOES and FAT CHICK, for which a movie version is in the works.