This Veep review contains spoilers.
Veep Season 6 Episode 8
In Veep season 6, episode 8, “Judge,” ex-President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) fulfills what she hoped would be a death bed promise and celebrates Gary’s (Tony Hale) birthday at his family’s sweet home in Alabama. She enjoys a downhome barbecue and gets to kibbutz the family game of incest.
Kentucky fried Christ, Gary’s family is a grand tapestry of Dixie dysfunction. Selina’s surprised they doen’t have an inbred cousin living on their porch. Jean Smart and Stephen Root play Gary’s parents. Both are exceptionally effective character actors who bring depth and relatability to every role they’ve inhabited. That gets a little creepy here. There are some open wounds in the vortex of sexual confusion Gary grew up in. Deep gashes with festering pus.
Abdul visits Selina with the promise of Mason Dixon line crossing donors. Usually these good ol’ boys would avoid an uptown girl like the ex-POTUS on principle alone, but they were promised ribs. Southern cooking holds a major fascination over the entire entourage. Mike McClintock (Matt Walsh) eats stacks of everything. Mr. Marjorie (Clea DuVall) gives Gary the meanest look when he apologizes for not having more vegetarian options. Catherine (Sarah Sutherland) breaks her vegan diet to feed her baby ribs, getting another mean glare from the former presidential body double.
Selina decides to prove how open minded she is to these backwoods chicken grabbers. The sit-down dinner becomes a standup barbecue, complete with Confederate flags and lawn jockeys and he lets her Dixie Chick shine. At her heart, Selina is a southern girl. She’s from Maryland, a state that had slaves, but didn’t secede from the union. She has every right to indulge every finger-licking urge she’s ever had, except, of course, to actually lick her fingers. Gary has baby wipes for that. With all the dead babies that came out of her body, Selina could have been Pottery Barn Kids.
Selina destroys Gary when she steals his childhood story. Gary is not a strong man, but he’s been shouldering boulders of repression with nothing to help him but the most passive of aggressions. His father sees it. Hell, his stillborn baby brother, who all heart, but no valves, would have made a better football player. He also sees the best shades of red lipstick to complement the ex-president’s face, and Selina concurs. There is so much diametrical opposition to Gary’s upbringing it’s a wonder he is upright at all.
Gary slow dances with mama. She misses her baby. In the political election film Primary Colors, Emma Thompson’s future first lady bemoans the bond between southern boys and their mamas. Grown men cry at the mere mention of the motherly anything. Gary and his mom Imogene have an otherly something going on.
Amy (Anna Chlumsky) spends most of the time retracing Mike’s steps trying to find his presidential travel diary. She’s slipping in status, and has no discernable social skills. The former chief of staff is losing every responsibility to Richard.
Richard (Sam Richardson) is forever a wonder. He takes on every job thrown at him, whether he’s thrown by it or not. He remembers, in the middle of looking for a pen, that he has photographic memory and doesn’t need one. He knows everything there is to know about jug bands and isn’t afraid to admit that. When Selina puts him in charge of funding her library he goes from mild surprise to full commitment in less than a heartbeat. “We’re still doing that? I better get to work then.”
It’s the little things that make you appreciate a show as indelicately nuanced as Veep. At one point Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons) hands Kent a used napkin. straight from his mouth I think. Kent Davidson (Gary Cole), the man who can tell Grateful Dead touring band members from actual band members, gives it an inquisitively disgusted look. The disdain on his face is wonderful. It’s a very small moment, but such a broad peak into the man who took the S out of Daylight Saving Time.
There is a hysterical visual when Jonah bashes the congressman on the foot while trying to beat the clock. This goes back to when the lanky former presidential page was pushed to run as the Freshman congressman from New Hampshire and he couldn’t split a pre-chopped log.
Congressman Ryan accomplished more in a month than most extremely stupid do in a lifetime, President Laura Montez (Andrea Savage) admits before getting a front row view on exactly how extremely stupid Jonah can be. There’s a reason no woman, even the first elected woman president, will be alone with him for more than a few seconds before someone feels compelled to step in for protection.
Jonah fires Ben, who takes it well. As a matter of fact, he’s pretty happy about it. He spends his first free day with some kind of fancy Big Gulp filled with at least 86 proof. Jonah’s taking all his talking points from his fiancé and her father Fyvush Fuckhole. Everything they say is political poison, but the gawky congressman is riding a wave of popularity. He goes against every institutional instinct and the voters appear to love him, until they don’t.
That happens on CBS, who wins a coin toss on who will show the congressman a good time in the big city. Even the morning news is a hoot. “A long lost letter from WWII is finally delivered, ending a 60 year marriage.” You can’t help but fill in the blanks. But it’s not enough to boost Dan Eagan’s (Reid Scott) ratings. The new sex appeal doesn’t do it for the viewers and the only thing that can save his anchor chair is an the biggest interview the Beltway has to offer. Until somebody else takes the president’s offer.
“Judge” is a crispy bite of charbroiled wings. It expands on the idea that no one goes Washington without a trunkful of trauma.