HBO’s Veep is a non-partisan, non-denominational political show. It doesn’t matter if these people are democrats or republicans, at the very bottom of the black heart of all these characters beats the broken pump, run on the awkwardness and social ineptitude of the body politic. Everyone in politics is an ambitious asshole with no clue how to comport themselves publicwise because everything they do is for show. “Some New Beginnings” doesn’t quite reach the heights of episodes past, maybe because the Vice President’s team is suffering from separation anxiety. Without the body, what’s a parasite to do?
The new Veep season opens as we learn that the president isn’t going to be running for re-election in two years. The Team is at a wedding vying for who will be the vice president’s campaign manager and Selina Meyers is in Iowa, weighing unrefrigerated butter sculptures.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus isn’t playing anything near Elaine Benes in Veep. I mean, her head’s the same size, but there are no birds flying into it like they have no choice. That being said, she did pull a reference to the famous Seinfeld “Soup Nazi” episode. When asked what her favorite word is from someone on line at Selina Meyer’s book signing, she says “next.”
Next. It shows her growing unease and the ease with which Selina Meyers can write off her constituents. Governing people would be so much easier without the people. They are all minor inconveniences and she’s always under the microscope of the media. Stuck on a book-signing tour while the presidency is flaming out on a scandal, Meyers takes her cabin fever out on the people she’s supposed to be seducing. Everything is more important than whatever is right in front of her.
It’s Selina’s world and everyone else just works for her. That’s why her supplicants, I mean her staff, have less than no social lives. Even at the wedding of her press secretary, Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh), the whole staff gathers as one body, waiting for the droppings of whatever runs downhill in Washington to deliver them from such a happy occasion. Although Selina isn’t at the wedding, she’s a constant presence as her personal timing ruins moments like when her personal assistant, Gary Walsh (Tony Hale) is reciting for the wedding, but his cell phone goes off. Timing is the first rule of comedy, so the worse the personal timing, the better the comic tension.
Mike is marrying Wendy, a DC journalist played by Kathy Najimi, maybe best known as the voice of Peggy Hill on King of The Hill. Selina brushes her off with imperial impatience at her own wedding. On a contraband cell phone, no less. That’s power in Washington. Wendy pulls her own power plays, she makes all the wedding guests put their cell phones, their life lines, into a phone bowl, out of reach. Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky), the vice president’s chief of staff, feels the phantom pain of the severed limb. Amateur. She didn’t bring a spare. But she can telepathically triangulate where the phone bowl is when the chips are down and Maddox resigns. Shit on my tits.
Dan Egan, played by Reid Scott, is a shit. The body politic needs a good shit to relieve itself of the poisons of the mosquito infected swamp that we call the capital. It has been said that John Wayne had pounds of beef lodged in his colon when he died. Probably equal to the poundage of Jonah (Timothy Simons), the skid mark of Veep with his pee-lined hands leaving a pheromone trail everywhere he goes. We have all been hoping for that shit to hit a fan and when his blog is his undoing, I felt regular.
Sufe Bradshaw as Sue Wilson and Kevin Dunn’s Ben Cafferty are the only characters I actually like on the show. Ben’s never ambiguous, not even sexually. Sure, he’s a shit too, but as a grizzled shit, he wouldn’t be that bad to hang around with. Love Julia Louis-Dreyfus as I do, it would take all my self-control after one hour with Selina Meyer not to put a fork in her eye. The characters are not written or performed to be loved. They exist to be ridiculed, by the audience and each other. They are not caricatures though. They each have flesh and bone that would taste pretty good if seasoned properly. Their heads are made for spikes. That is why we can love them without liking them. They’re great when they’re locked up in Washington. It’s when they are on the campaign trail that we have to worry.
Veep skewers everything in the American political system with quick, cut-throat slices. Everyone is horrible, unsavory and crass. They are all opportunistic monsters. We can’t love them. But we can love watching them. That’s politics in a nutsack.
Den of Geek Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars