This Veep review contains spoilers.
Veep Season 6 Episode 9
In Veep season 6, episode 9, “A Woman First,” ex-President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) has the best day of her political career, and she owes it all to a screw-up by one of her staff, her press guy Mike McClintock (Matt Walsh), who loses the Presidential travel diary and it leaks all over the press. It gets compounded by Selina’s usually reliable-to-the-point-of-frenzy left hand Amy (Anna Chlumsky).
The people who work around the former president are as incompetent as her daughter’s uterus, which apparently was part of a much larger design flaw. The writing and performances that go into this pinnacle of ineptitude is brilliant, because it is always flawed. The timing on Veep is impeccable, but unique. The writers consistently go out of their way to find that one perfect word that is just slightly off-kilter, but fits perfectly in place. They are oysters that get enough abrasion to produce enough diamonds, a carpenter’s walrus could eat for a week.
Mike is basically a stupid mustache whose very first book is marred by a typo on the the very first page. Mike is also saddled with the same food suggestibility as George Costanza on Seinfeld. At one point, Selina compares a wrong political turn to a turd in her chalupa and Mike gets the idea of getting Mexican for lunch. This wasn’t the only sly reference to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s breakthrough show. When Selina is concerned about putting a towel on the couch the very pregnant Catherine is ordered bedridden to, it’s a subtle reminder what could happen if employees don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom in Papi’s diner.
The whole diary debacle could be fixed very easily, or broken even easier than that. There’s an influential journalist named Leon at who’s got a thing for Amy. If only she didn’t think clam banging vaginas weren’t so gross. Sometimes she wishes she didn’t have one and sometimes she forgets it’s even there. Of course, Amy doesn’t see this as a handicap in the land of strange bedfellows. It’s not her vagina doesn’t stand in the way of her being very flirtatious, it’s the way her eyeballs threaten to shoot out of their sockets every time she gives a come-hither wink. At least Selina appreciates the size of her sometimes lover’s jet, even if the ambassador does have to keep it fueled in the event he has to make a quick getaway.
Veep goes out of its way to show a state of the state where the best and bravest maneuverings are fights to the bottom. Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons) was on the right path until he wasn’t and now he’s stuck in an office with such low maximum headroom he double taps floor and ceiling while punching a desk in frustration. Jonah is pure blitz in his bits of physical comedy. Last week he knocked out a shin at an event, a few weeks ago he made mincemeat out of his feet while not doing a thing to luggage racks outside a hotel lobby.
But the pain of the physical comedy pales in Jonah’s swift downfall. First we hear the dynamite go boom, when Kent gets nothing but net from an offhand toss and happily leaves to court with his pink slip when Jonah sends him to the showers. When Tanz pulls his support he notes that the only reason he didn’t hire goons to mess Jonah’s face up, further, was because he was supposed to marry his daughter. The Jewish convertee gets all the news after he gets his dick flicked and is lying in recuperation. But at least he gets visitors.
Jonah’s Uncle Jeff is wonderful, and by that, I mean horrible, but in the most wondrous way. He’s a king maker in New England and he put this epileptic Picasso painting of a court jester in the House of Representatives only to have him break the foundation it was built on.
But Jonah really isn’t that far out of place on the basketball courts of Washington. He calls one congressman a snitch and it escalates to the congressman yelling “yooouu shut up” at Jonah. Everyone in Washington is a big baby. Some of them made it emotionally to mid-middle school, but working for the people, as they’re supposed to be doing, is really easy to do when the people don’t know you’re not really doing anything. Selina’s staff may not be the most incompetent in DC. Still waters run so deep in that former swamp that the best thing coming out of the hiring pools are the bottom feeders. Especially Mike, who’ll eat anything, but not Richard (Sam Richardson), who is so beloved on the Selina’s staff he even donated enough sperm to her daughter to fill in at the hospital while the ex-POTUS goes on TV.
There is a sort-of side story about Selina having to take care of her daughter Catherine (Sarah Sutherland), who is having a difficult pregnancy, but it never gets off the couch because Selina doesn’t pay attention when she is told she has to do it. Marjorie (Clea DuVall) finally gets a chance to have a night cap sit down with the ex-president. Selina distracts her and her former body double winds up yammering on and on until Selina almost calls for secret service to get her out there.
But the best thing to come out of all Mike’s diary being leaked is it makes news that Meyers brokered the deal with China freeing Tibet, not President Laura Montez (Andrea Savage), and all the news outlets want to talk with her about it. The news is broken on The Morning Show, the morning after Dan Eagan (Reid Scott) is let go.
I don’t want to say Selina lags behind the times, but when she’s preparing to go on the Tonight Show, she is fully expecting to be interviewed by the late great Johnny Carson. Gary (Tony Hale) gives Selina a redundant last second hair adjustment in a moment of repressed self-absorption. The former POTUS missed a change to get her very own book regifted to her on the show, but now she has to take the zingers from children reading the best parts of the reviews that have come in. It is a precious moment. All those children. All that bile.
I am looking forward to seeing the teaming of Kent, Dan, and Ben Cafferty (Kevin Dunn). This trio is easily the most competent teaming on the alternative Beltway. They put Selina into office, well, they kept her there as she barely tread water as far as foreign relations, domestic issues, casual corruption and a largely inconsequential place in current events, much less history. “A Woman First,” which is also part of the title to her memoirs, is the second to last bad word on comedy. But that’s not a pun.
“A Woman First” was directed by Brad Hall and written by Erik Kenward.