So, how’s everybody been since last season’s finale? Having fun in this brave new America?
I was curious how it would feel to return to Veep right now, with real-world politics being, you know, totally fine and in no way panic-inducing. Would we still be able to find it funny? Would everything that once seemed outlandish enough about Selina and her staff — their breathtaking lack of compassion, the bumbling incompetence of Mike and Jonah and essentially everyone who isn’t Sue — now be too real and subsequently disturbing?
Only one way to find out!
Like some other TV shows of late (Jane the Virgin, Pretty Little Liars), Veep deploys a time jump to great effect here, picking up one year to the date from when the finale left off. Selina is a guest on CBS This Morning, her first public appearance since the election loss. As the scene opens, we only see her side of the interview — and I got very excited for a potential Gayle or Charlie cameo, but it turns out the host is none other than Dan Egan. What do you know? He found his way to CBS after all, even after that whole thing where he had sex with Amy’s sister who worked at CVS and told him she could hook him up with a “late night” gig.
The past year, Selina says, has been “fun. Really fun!” Sure, she was rejected by the American people and also by Congress. “But I did reacquaint myself with an old friend of mine by the name of Selina Meyer. And I like her!” Selina sounds very calm and happy, like perhaps she is getting an IUD inserted just off-camera. Why is she making her return to public life, Dan asks (making the thinking-face emoji so you know he’s really listening), and why is she writing a memoir? Well, for one, it gives her an excuse to use an unwieldy extended metaphor about “America’s great tapestry of history … I’m really much more focused on the tapestry itself. The WEAVE. The thread count. The old lady at the loom, if you will.”
As the interview unravels, Dan presses Selina on her pardoning of a private prison magnate. Desperate to regain control of the conversation, Selina points out that she also pardoned drug offenders who never learned to read and is starting “The Meyer Fund for Adult Literacy … and AIDS,” adding that, “AIDS is a big part of the tapestry.” She also says that he has no plans to run for president “at this time,” because she’s so busy with adult literacy and also with AIDS, so you know she 100 percent is plotting a comeback.
Meanwhile, we see the rest of the gang watching her on TV from their new and, for some, improved lives. Amy is both campaign manager for and fiancée of former fuck-buddy Buddy Calhoun, who is running for governor of “this dried coyote turd of a state” Nevada. She is as motivational as ever: “So saddle up those emphysema tanks, you inbred cousin fuckers, because we are going to drag this state into the 20th century!” The best part of Amy’s relationship is how Buddy is desperate for her to talk dirty in bed — “the way you do at the office” — but she can only muster that passion to be so eloquently profane when she’s shit-talking her colleagues and constituents, not when her husband-to-be is literally inside her. Love is love.
Are any of you watching The Good Place? That show contains a whole riff about how heaven and hell aren’t generic, one-size-fits-all afterlife locales, but rather individualized spaces designed to uniquely reward or torture each person in death. I bring this up because it appears that Ben, a.k.a. “Beltway Ben,” is in a bespoke hell: He works at Uber for a guy named Aiden, surrounded by 30-year-olds with Warby Parkers. Ben, who likes to say things such as “oriental” and “Chinamen,” does not mesh well with the woke youths of Uber. This makes sense, considering Uber’s reputation as a super-progressive and inoffensive workplace, especially for ladies. Ben bails on the job before long, dismissing his colleagues as “dumbass millennials too lazy to learn how to drive drunk.”
We learn that Congressman Jonah Ryan of New Hampshire is now a cancer survivor who speaks out against the Healthy School Lunch Act. His post-chemo bald aesthetic — which is revealed to be a sham, since he’s been done with chemo for months now and keeps shaving his head for the sympathy, because: Jonah — is very Lex Luthor. I particularly enjoyed this little rant of his: “It’s no wonder kids are shooting up schools with lunches like these! The only green bean I ever ate was a green jelly bean. And I grew up to be so tall my stupid mother had to get a different car.”
Mike is a stay-at-home dad and appears to be the only White House alum who isn’t watching Selina’s interview. He’s got infant twins plus that adopted kid he thought was going to be a baby but definitely wasn’t. These scenes are the most effective form of birth control. By the end of the episode Mike is dragged out of semi-retirement because his diary is vital for Selina’s memoir-writing process — but he will not be paid until the book is finished, which leaves Mike as essentially an unpaid intern.
Catherine is rich now, which I had completely forgotten about, because she inherited all of Mee-maw’s money. Selina is on an allowance from her daughter, except Catherine doesn’t want to talk about money, so Selina has to go through Marjorie, straight-faced and odd as ever. (Marjorie is running the Meyer fund, and her delivery on “I didn’t know you were going to give me AIDS” is perfection.)
The only person who seems content with Selina’s new situation is Gary. He gets to just hang with Selina in her pjs, eating Chinese takeout and playing Backgammon. Naturally, then, he’s the most horrified when Selina spells out for him why she’s so set on taking a speaking engagement in Omaha: It’s 20 minutes from a dinner that you have to go to if you’re going to run for president. How does Tony Hale force all his veins to pop out of his head like that? He whisper-screams “ARE YOU SURE YOU’RE READY FOR THIS?” and I wonder if he will have an aneurysm right there.
At a family meeting, Catherine doesn’t fare much better when given the candidacy news, though that’s inconsequential since Selina gives exactly zero fucks about her opinion. Selina concludes the announcement with “Mommy’s going to be president again!” and then lives in this glory for all of 20 minutes before Ben, whom she invites to her house to float this obviously bananas idea, tells her that there is no way she can run for president. It’s pretty heartbreaking. I mean, it would be heartbreaking, if Selina had told Ben to come over to talk about her presidency. Obviously the real purpose of her summons was to ask Ben to work for the Meyer Fund for AIDS and Adult Literacy. Ben accepts and neatly connects her two disparate mission statements: “Maybe if we teach them how to read a condom wrapper, they wouldn’t get AIDS in the first place.”
And a Few Other Things …
• Selina’s reaction to Dan bringing up President Montez is very Mariah: “I don’t know her.”
• Yeah, so Mike’s “baby” from last season is definitely a second-grader.
• WHY IS SELINA BACK WITH ANDREW? I know there’s a lot of competition for this title on a show full of dirt bags, but he is the absolute worst.
• Hello there, Minority House Leader Furlong! “I don’t know if you can hear me over the sound of your ball tumors metastasizing, but Americans don’t care what poor kids eat.”
• “Do you know what’s wrong with this salad?” [Throws it on the ground.] “FIGURE IT OUT.” I was trying to figure out why I was so immediately taken with Dan’s nightmare boss and then I put it together: It’s Eleanor Waldorf, Blair’s mom, the best of all the Gossip Girl parents. Xoxo, guys.
• Jonah going ballistic when Dan makes all those shaving puns on camera: “It’s not fun to make fun of people who are supposed to be your friend just because I look like a penis.”
• Where’s Sue? After last season’s finale, I predicted she would be the sole unnamed staffer who would be staying on in the White House. Thoughts?
• Richard seems to be doing fine, all things considered.
Insult of the Episode:
Selina, describing her South Bronx digs, a.k.a., “the Triangle Shirtwaist offices”: “The worst place they’ve ever stuffed a president, and I’m including JFK’s coffin.”
Runner-up: Mike’s daughter saying very clearly, “He’s not my father.”
Compliment of the Episode:
“I like her!” — Selina, talking about herself
Jonah Shall Henceforth Be Known As:
“A human fucking pap smear.” Honestly impressed Dan knows enough about women’s health to just reference a pap smear out of nowhere.