"Shiv’s combination of coyness, canniness, and ambition makes a lot of viewers love her," Lili Loofbourow says of Sarah Snook's character. "Plenty of others love to hate her. This may be because she’s structurally unable to escape the strategic significance of her femaleness; it’s the main way she gets singled out again and again on the show (most recently in Kendall’s repeated and vile references to her 'teats'). But the issue isn’t exactly that she’s a woman. Nor is it exactly that she’s the favorite. It’s that her story remains surprisingly thin. There still just isn’t much to her—beyond chafing at her marriage and wanting the top job enough to do anything to get it—and it seems to me like by now there should be. I’ve been waiting eagerly for Shiv’s choices to be anything but dully adaptive. She’s smart, after all, and eager to impress her father whose whole philosophy requires never adapting and rejecting constraints. But adapting is all Shiv does. Save for her surprising decision in the Season 2 finale to beg her father to spare Tom—a fascinating and knowingly self-immolating pivot toward the marriage (and away from her ambition!) that she seems to have totally forgotten about in Season 3—Shiv is strategic in a dispiritingly obvious sort of way. It’s hard to imagine her ever impressing Logan because all she does is accept limits instead of challenging or reframing them. There’s no interesting paradox there, no unusual angle of approach, no legible defining complication. We’re into the third season and that’s a little too long for a principal to remain this blurry. Shiv seems crisp (her outfits sure are), but ask yourself whose psychology you understand better: Tom’s or Shiv’s? Greg’s or Shiv’s? Roman’s or Shiv’s? Hell: Connor’s or Shiv’s? I’m not even bothering with Kendall, whose layers get more attention than all the rest combined. This is a problem even at the level of dumb aesthetics. It’s my unpopular opinion that Shiv’s ballyhooed makeover from the S1 messy bohemian to the S2 polished pantsuit does the opposite of character work, and that it in fact comes perilously close to doing what The Office did to Mindy Kaling’s character—rewriting her so completely from the first season to the rest that there’s no real bridge to build. The OG Shiv is a bruiser with great messy hair who wrestles Roman and wears big bohemian cardigans and flats and weird unflattering pants. These are not conventional sartorial choices for political consultants in Washington; this Shiv is somewhat eccentric, and interesting. The New Shiv, by contrast, is conformity itself.... This mimics a broader tendency in the writing for Shiv, which uses shallow external signifiers to portray her as bold when she’s actually disappointingly reactive. It would be one thing if Shiv were mysterious—that is to say, if you found yourself genuinely and repeatedly surprised by what she was thinking, or by her approach to a problem. Or if she were brilliant and capable of swinging the room by making a compelling and unexpected case. But she mostly isn’t. She’s mostly obvious and predictable."