Midseason Check-In: VEEP

At the beginning of Season 3 I claimed that Veep was back and better than ever.  We are now halfway through and that sentiment still holds true, but the show has developed a change in tone.

Veep has certainly gotten bolder in its approach to political satire during Season 3.  Armando Iannucci has given his creation a darker slant these past few weeks, and Selina Meyer has gotten even more aggressive and acid-tongued as a result.  The show is meaner and more direct in its comedy than it used to be which may rub some the wrong way, but this is politics and politics is a filthy game.  With Selena now running for the presidency and with the show continually upping the ante each week in terms of location and narrative ambition, perhaps this change of tone was to be expected.  Fear not though, Veep is still goofily funny, and though the political game may be bringing out all of the characters’ worst traits, it provides the writers with ample comedic opportunity.

At the beginning of the season’s fifth episode “Fishing”, Selina has still not picked a campaign manager, a fact that she is reminded of incessantly by staff and outside observers alike.  Dan and Amy are lobbying hard for the job, though they both are at a loss as to how exactly to go about it with Dan taking the high road and Amy awkwardly hosting staff dinner parties.  Little do they know that Selena is meeting with Bill Erickson as a potential pick for campaign manager.  His advice? Selina should fire her entire staff.  And she would certainly have cause to do it, as none of the dimwits working for her seem capable of holding a job in government (how these idiots got hired in the first place remains a mystery; flashbacks on that very topic would be a welcome diversion) — but then again, neither does Selina.

While Selina, Dan, and Amy continue to make power plays, poor wounded puppy Gary has to struggle with a shoulder injury that threatens his job.  Never mind that the injury was incurred by handling Selina’s monster sized bags filled with her “tampon bulls**t.” And then there is Mike, whom this week gets the running gag of carrying around a cooler bag filled with his own sperm. Yes, Mike is running off to the bathroom like clockwork, to masturbate into a cup with the hopes of getting his newlywed pregnant. And it doesn’t matter the address, whether it be in the Vice President’s office, Amy’s apartment, or the local bar.  The payoff to the gag is one of the season’s funniest moments, as the Veep’s cronies drunkenly decide to throw Mike’s spoiled semen at continual adversary Jonah’s front door.  Too bad he’s home for the surprise.

The character of Jonah has gotten a workout this season, as he was first fired from his White House staffing job, then started an internet political gossip website, and now works as potential presidential candidate George Maddox’s bag boy.  By keeping Jonah as the central bastardized antagonist (as much as a show like this can have) in different capacities, the showrunners have managed to keep the character fresh.  And with the recent revelation that the reason Jonah keeps getting hired into these unlikely positions is because of his uncle’s political importance, it is safe to assume we can expect even more childish shenanigans from the giant Neanderthal in the episodes to come.

The campaign has brought out the worst in Selina (and it’s only just begun), as she continually threatens her staff and has nothing but contempt for her party.  And now she has three other candidates vying for the democratic nomination – newcomer Joe Thornhill (this show’s version of Joe Sixpack), longtime rival Danny Chung, and unexpectedly George Maddox.  Selina goes to Maddox’s country house to divert his interest in the presidency by offering him a job in the State Department, but they both end up offering each other the VP job simultaneously. After previously boasting about the untapped power the position holds, Selina declares “I’d rather be shot in the f***ng face than serve as Vice President again. Seriously, in the f***ng face.”

Season 3 of Veep continues to grow and divert into unexpected places.  Last week’s take-down of Palo Alto and the relationship between Washington and the technological community was especially delicious in its satirical skewering.  This week felt like a transitional episode, setting up the various trials and tribulations that Selina will have to overcome in the weeks and possibly even seasons ahead (I don’t imagine this presidential campaign will get wrapped up by the end of the current season).  There are some weak spots that need to be addressed – Sue has been sidelined more than usual this year and her awkward relationship with Kent needs to either come to fruition or be dropped immediately.  Speaking of Kent, why are he and Ben always at Selina’s side?  They do still work for the President after all, and there is a country to run.  But as Selina puts it so succinctly in this week’s episode, “I’m not going to be able to pass a single piece of legislation that’s really going to make any f*** of a difference in your life.” American politics at work, ladies and gentlemen.  Oh, and Selina made Dan her campaign manager.  Chew on that for a while.

*At the behest of my editor I am including some of the more choice quotes from this past week’s episode below.  The one liners in this show are worthy of their own 900 word article.

“I love the country. Peeing in a bush, being talked to on a porch. It’s kind of like being a dog.”

“You know, Mike. It would please me greatly, if you would do me the honor of removing your jizzbox from our executive branch of government.”

“Right before Andrew and I split up, I don’t know if you remember, but his car caught fire… I did it. I torch cars. Give me the nuclear codes!”

“You may never meet her personally. She may never catch your eye or thank you, but Selina Meyer will never forget you.”

“You are going to change America in a way that usually only war and fluoride can.”

“You guys are the chosen ones. Not in a Jewish way either. In a like selected from a very short list of 10 way.”

“I think you have just the right amount of grit in your oyster.”

“The juice could have gotten in my eyes Dan! The spicy burrito juice!”

“People like me. People hire me. People date me and people f*** me because I’m triple-A f****ng awesome and no other reason.”

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