HBO’s Veep episode, “Alicia,” teaches the lesson that no matter what you want in politics, you never quite get it. You can come close. You can have all your guests lined up and your talking points on the easel, but it’s not going to happen. In the end, for all your choices and compromises, you’re left with little more than a cute kid in a photo-op. Politicians are inept con artists and their marks are their best political friends and themselves.
Tracie Thoms plays Alicia Bryce, someone Selina really can admire. Going door to door, tacking up posters, going the distance for Universal Child Care. An important cause. As important as care for seniors, who trump kids because seniors vote and kids don’t. Or, by definition, can’t. If only unborn children could vote … but that’s a story by Philip Roth and was better covered in last week’s “The Choice” episode. Kent Davison (Gary Cole) declares that children are of no value and ultimately that becomes the word from on high. Even if Selina does choose to stoop to conquer.
They say politics make for strange bedfellows, Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) wants to cuddle with the easy teddy bear of child welfare and winds up in bed with a bunch of old, wrinkled, dead-eyed white guys who got lost on their way over. Twice. They didn’t get directions until Selina dumps the one thing she swears she’ll never dump. Senator Doyle has the hold over the vice president that her own principals don’t. He can turn water into blow jobs, or at least deliver the grey vote because his hair has already gone white. The one cause Selina actually cares about, child welfare. It may have cost her the mental health of her own daughter, but goddammit, when she gets to be president, someone is going to look after the kids.
Maybe the kids will be left in the lurch without free lunch. Maybe those brown bags will be empty. Matt Walsh shines this episode. Mike McLintock is actually moved. Moved to the point of making some severe career-smashing decisions and the words that go along with them. Mike doesn’t call Alicia’s assistant Dee (Edwina Findley) a cow because he’s in any way upset with her. He really wants to help her. He’s upset for her and and everything he has to do to keep his part of the Veep boat going. Even if it’s right into the shallows. The deeper the shallow the smoother the sailing in Washington. Matt Walsh put something in every note of his delivery this week that smacked of real dreams and of those dreams being dashed on the rocks. This was a moment that Mike McLintock actually was beginning to believe in and he himself had to destroy it and in destroying it Mike McLintock lost a piece of himself.
But it gets worse. Mike has to dig deep into the abyss of humiliation and own it. He has to get down on his knees and beg. To sing for his supper and all the suppers to come. And he has to do this to a human skid mark. Someone he not only doesn’t respect, but despises to the point of … bugs. It’s like a disgusting bug that’s crawling on your leg and you can actually feel the moisture of slime. That’s what Mike is debasing himself to. And for what? Sure Jonah (Timothy Simons), the slimy piece of unflushed effluvium, isn’t going to get Mike off the public hook, but Mike himself doesn’t even believe what he’s defending. He wanted Alicia on that podium, knew it was right and he went down for pulling her down. That’s as down as you can get and Matt Walsh captured that while still seeming too tired to even bother.
Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky) finds Alicia, takes Halo, her daughter, to the bathroom and is almost as passionate about universal child care as the vice president. That is until she dispassionately dumps her on Mike, who spent the whole episode building her up, to knock her down and out. Gary Walsh (Tony Hale) is left holding the cold coffee. Kevin Dunn’s Ben Cafferty was left holding a bag of pills. They help when he’s down, but he has no idea what they are, they came with his desk.
Dan Egan (Reid Scott), who stole last week’s episode as far as I’m concerned, is dealing with Saturday Night Live this week. This gives Julia Louis-Dreyfus so many little fun quips about her old alma mater that they seem to be coming out of his mouth. Selina calls SNL completely childish, compares it to taking a shit through a sunroof of your own car. As Dan goes up the 30 Rock escalator all he gets are nosebleeds and one word from Selina breaks that nose along with the entire day’s work. Selina, of course, settles at last for his first suggestion and by the time it gets to that small compromise, it is a major defeat. Own it, Dan says. But no, too late. Selina decides to be owned. Fucking comedians. Think they were on Seinfeld or something.
Speaking of Seinfeld, the Saturday Night Live skit is about Selina Meyer having a pet pony when she was a kid. She says who didn’t have one? A pet, that is, not necessarily a horse. This is exactly the kind of behavior that Elaine on Seinfeld helped heap scorn on. Like, I had a pony. Who has ponies as a kid? Polish grandmothers did, that’s who. When they were growing up on the fields they might have gone hungry, but their horses didn’t. Without the ponies they would starve outright. But not Selina. Her pony was the kind that Elaine was talking about. Thank you for subliminally bringing it back.
“Alicia” was written by Sean Gray & Ian Martin and directed by Christopher Morris.