With today's news that Sharon Stone is going to play the Vice President of the U.S. in TNT's pilot Agent X, there are some truths about what it takes to play a fictional female Veep. It starts at the name. And in that respect, Stone has a major leg up on the competition. Per Entertainment Weekly:
Her character, “Natalie Maccabee,” steps into the race for vice president after her senator husband dies. She gets the job, and discovers being veep comes with a top secret duty — protecting the Constitution in times of great crisis with the aid of her Chief Steward and a secret operative designated “Agent X” (a role not yet cast).
Somehow, the notion that the Vice President and a secret operative have a top-secret duty to protect the Constitution (the physical constitution, or are we on a more metaphorical level here? In which case, isn't it always the Vice President's duty to protect the Constitution?) isn't even the most notable part of that paragraph, and that's because NATALIE MACCABEE! What a fantastic, A+ name for a television. Popular (but not too popular) first name. Strong, Biblical surname. "Gracie Exodus" might have sounded a smidge too cartoonish, and Madison Proverbs a bit too dry. But Natalie Maccabee. She's gonna get things done.
The history of female Vice Presidents on TV and in mvoies shows that while it's not all in a name (it's just as often, if not more, about an actress who can really deliver), perception is power in politics, and the perception of a strong name (Natalie Maccabee! Honestly, it's almost hard to believe our good fortune) is pretty essential.
A brief ranking from weakest to strongest Veep names, and what each meant for the character.
7. Karen Carmichael, Jack & Bobby
Not great. Tess Harper did a decent job with the character, but the show was kind of overlooked, and with a humdrum name like Karen Carmichael as an indication, it's not hard to see why. It's also waaaaaay to close to "Karen Cartwright," the name of Katharine McPhee's despised character from Smash.
6. Caroline Reynolds, Prison Break
Snooze! This is no way to name any Vice President, much less one who's a) evil, b) part of a vast international conspiracy that somehow involves a pair of brothers seeking to escape imprisonment, and c) played by the awesome Patricia Wettig. Caroline Reynolds. Jeez. Maybe try next time.
5. Kathryn Bennett, Air Force One.
Why am I not hollering at Kathryn Bennett like I was hollering at the similarly average-named Caroline Reynolds? Two key differences. "Kathryn" is a far more dynamic spelling of that name, including an intimidating hard "K" and an unexpected "y" to keep you guessing. Plus, she was played by Glenn Close. Automatic cred there.
4. Selina Meyer, Veep
It's actually not a bad name. It's just that Julia Louis-Dreyfus's character doesn't do a good enough job backing up its potential, thus opening herself up for a barrage of unflattering nicknames, like "Meyer the Liar" and "Vaselina."
3. Laine Hanson, The Contender
Now we're talking. As played by Oscar-nominated Joan Allen, Laine Hanson was a strong, pissed-off voice of reason for an America that was reeling from the Clinton-Lewinsky days. The name really fit. Not Elaine. Come on. Nobody has time for that. Laine is not going to put up with either your bullshit or your unnecessary lead vowels.
2. Sally Langston, Scandal
What a perfect name for this character in particular. So disarming from multiple angles. "Sally" has such girlish, harmless connotations (like the Peanuts character). "Langston" makes you think about sipping cool iced tea on the porch somewhere in Georgia. The perfect unassuming name for a snake in the grass as played by Kate Burton on Scandal.
1. Mackenzie Allen, Commander in Chief
The easy champion, at least until Agent X goes to series and allows Natalie Maccabee to unseat her. First of all, Mackenzie Allen shortens to Mac to easily, and that is a boss nickname for a President, particularly one played by Geena Davis. Mostly, though, it's that you can't mess with success. Mackenzie Allen was such an awesome Veep name that she became the President by the end of the first episode.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.