I want to start off by saying that the cast of Stan Against Evil is amazing and features some of the greatest comedic actors working today. This article is not meant to diminish any of their contributions to the show. I simply wanted to shine a light on an actress I don’t feel is getting as much credit as she deserves. With that being said, let’s talk about how awesome Janet Varney is in this show!
Janet is not only playing one of the only female sheriffs on TV but she has to do so while sharing the screen with comedic legend John C. McGinley. That is a lot to put on any actor’s shoulders and Janet rises to the occasion in a magnificent way. Like any good comedy duo, she is John’s equal on the opposite end of the spectrum. She plays the straight man to John’s outlandish and ridiculous Stan. She is the Abbott to his Costello, the Murtaugh to his Riggs, the Hutch to his Starsky.
This role may seem simple but ask yourself this. Would you be able to be in the same room as John C McGinley and portray an equal amount of authority? John is one of the top actors when it comes to physicality of performance and I have seen a lot of very fine actors intimidated and shut down their body language during a scene in response. Janet not only holds her own in every scene, she elevates it!
These are two characters who would much rather have their teeth pulled than talk about their feelings, so their nonverbal communication in both their physical performances is key to getting across what they are thinking and how their relationship is progressing. Apparently Dana Gould told Janet that she was kind of the “Indiana Jones” of the show and you can definitely see a Harrison Ford like quality in the way she carries herself. She even does a Indy style set of the jaw when the character gets into a particularly frustrating conundrum. Look for it next time you watch the show and I dare you not to get chills of badassness.
Not only is Janet killing it when it comes to physicality of her performance but she brings the emotion as well. She takes every emotional choice John makes and gives it back to him in spades. She can go big and trade blows in a screaming match or cut some tension with a snide remark. Whatever the scene calls for Janet is game. Janet’s improv background offers her a lot of flexibility in her approach and I can only imagine helps with any on the fly decision making when it comes to acting choices. Janet’s facial expressions are on point in the show as well. It has been a long time since I have seen an actor do so much with their face. Whether she is making you laugh with a frustrated eye roll, terrifying you with a lipstick smeared smile, or making you tear up during the rare moments she let’s her mask down with Stan, her face is always drawing and emotion out of you.
I have previously stated that the reason the show is called Stan Against Evil is that “Evie” is harder to make into a pun and in some ways this is true. Stan is much more passive than most titular main characters we see. Stan has to be dragged into helping solve almost every conflict.
And why can he afford to sit in his chair and watch WW2 documentaries while witches run rampant? Because Evie is doing all of the ground work. She is the one who is finding clues, solving puzzles, and just generally moving the plot forward. In many respects, Evie is more of the main character of the show than even Stan is. This is why I find it disappointing that the character does not get the same amount of attention as fan favorites Stan and Denise. So I implore all you Evie/Janet fans out there to wrap yourself up on the couch with a bottle of wine and the latest issue of “Divorced Female Sheriff Monthly” and raise your glass with me in a salute to one of the greatest comedic actresses working today. You deserve it JV!