overnights

Veep Recap: Man Up

Veep

Pledge
Season 7 Episode 3
Editor’s Rating *****

Veep

Pledge
Season 7 Episode 3
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: HBO

I’ve written many a time in these recaps that Selina has no political convictions other than what is most expedient for her at any given millisecond. But that is not strictly true, as I am reminded in this episode, for there is one opinion that Selina has held her entire career: Through victory and defeat, from that radiator in the basement (the vice-presidency) to the Oval Office, she hates women.

Selina is the perfect counterargument to the idea that women are innately better than men at anything — to the insidious, false idea that feminism means women should support all women, all the time, because sisterhood. She is proof that a female boss under patriarchy can be just as cruel, if not more so, than a male boss would be. (In response to Amy taking a day off to get an abortion that Selina, in fact, insisted she get, Selina tells Gary to remember to dock her pay.) It is appropriate, and so sad, that it is this one persistent belief of Selina’s that helps her land her first political victory all season: getting the whole debate audience riled up against Kemi — the only other female nominee onstage — by starting a rousing chant of “Man up!”

It takes Selina the whole episode to land on a rallying cry that catches on. Kemi can get her massive crowds to join her in “Whose time is it? OUR TIME,” and while Selina maintains she is unimpressed by this back-and-forth (“It sounds like Dr. Seuss fucked Maya Angelou in the yezmuhtezz and filled her all up with snoozlecuzz”), her efforts to come up with something similarly inspiring go nowhere. And I’m amazed at how small her crowds are, by the way. I mean, she’s a former POTUS. Doesn’t anyone want to see her in person?

So while Selina is flailing at the podium in front of half-empty bleachers, Kemi is on the cover of Time magazine, giving everybody “Kemi Fever!!!” and winning even Marjorie’s heart (“Clearly I have a thing for strong women”). Selina needs to prepare herself for the debates, notably for the alleged criminal dealings of her “Achilles’s cock” (thank you, Amy), Andrew. She also needs to prepare for her death: A general is tailing her, trying to get her to sign off on a presidential funeral plan. Due to her “unusually brief” tenure, he was using Ford’s ceremony as a template. But Selina and Gary are not having it. I think the happiest we’ve seen Selina all season is when she and Gary decide to make a list of all the people she wants blacklisted from her funeral.

All our candidates — save for Kemi, who is using her app to host a digital town hall — collide at the Waterloo County Fair, where we see one of my favorite campaign traditions in action: the awkward, performative consumption of phallic food. (Jonah, no surprise, is a natural.) Selina has to do this in towering heels, for America. Do you ever think about how Selina is, at best, really uncomfortable and, more likely than not, in excruciating physical pain almost all of the time she’s in public? Explains a lot about her personality; A-plus job, Veep wardrobe department. Mike, hopped up on “study buddies” from his BuzzFeed Airbnb roommates, corners Selina to ask her an actually coherent question about Andrew — moral of the story: drugs work — and Selina, in her effort to dodge it, calls on everyone to join her in “a nonnegative pledge.”

No sooner have all of Selina’s competitors signed the nonnegative pledge than Ben pops up at her elbow with a startling story from Kemi’s past: SHE KILLED HER BOYFRIEND in a car wreck. Selina, ecstatic: “She is an actual murderer? Who drives an import? … We gotta spread this news like Kemi’s boyfriend’s guts all over the pavement.” (Ben: “Actually, he was beheaded.”) But alas, this would be a direct violation of Selina’s extremely popular nonnegative pledge.

“Is there a way we can accuse Kemi of murdering her boyfriend, but in a positive way?” she asks, and then she runs into Tom James. Selina slips her intel to him, and, in a move that will obviously backfire, like I can-fucking-not believe she thinks she can trust that he would ever be her ally in this matter, thinks she convinces him to break the pledge first by unearthing this vehicular manslaughter from Kemi’s teenage history.

During the debate, Selina tries to set Tom up, landing heavily on words like “life and death” and “accident.” Tom, as you might have expected, twists the whole thing to make Selina look like a jerk. Everyone is accusing everyone of having covered up their heart attacks. Not very nonnegative, if you ask me! Selina sprints backstage during a commercial break and scrambles for an angle of attack, landing on the oh-so-original take of “Kemi’s full name sure sounds like a terrorist to me.” Catherine is horrified, and it is in her explosion at her daughter that Selina finds her new motto.

Selina returns to the stage with more poise and clarity than she’s had all night. “How about giving a little thanks to women like me who built the ladder that you used to get up on your soapbox,” she tells Kemi, before pivoting toward that classic: Stop whining and man up.

As for Jonah, how anyone thought they could bring this guy on the campaign trail without intensive media and sensitivity training is beyond me. But Teddy waits until Jonah calls someone “retarded” before calling in a favor from some consultants who are tasked with the impossible: teaching Jonah how to communicate like a normal human being. This … is completely ineffective. But it does give us a great scene of Jonah in the loser’s debate, not understanding the difference between the country of Niger and a word he just realized he’s not supposed to say anymore. “I think the United States should send troops into countries like N-word,” he says proudly. “And I think those troops should be black.”

Meanwhile, though I predicted Amy might not get an abortion because she would never be able to fit it into her schedule, her deadbeat sister shows up to wish her a “Happy Abortion Eve,” have sex with Dan, then fail to drive her to the appointment. Dan, whose personal definition of chivalry is “doing the absolute bare minimum to qualify as a not-asshole at least this one time,” valiantly takes Amy to the doctor’s office. After confronting the “hypocritical cunts” protesting outside, of course Amy is required by law to, I don’t know, let the technician read Goodnight Moon to her as a reminder of what she won’t be doing in eight months or some other anti-choice bullshit. Amy’s response: “Less talk, more abortion.”

Later, watching Selina actually win a debate from her hotel room, and just as Amy is wondering aloud if she and Dan could’ve kept this baby after all, Teddy calls her: Does she want to be Jonah’s campaign manager? “You are in luck, because my schedule just got scraped clean.”

A Few Other Things …

• If you want to make this half-hour even more fun, I suggest drinking every time Kemi says “as a woman and a woman of color.”

• I know it isn’t super-relevant, but I lost it when Selina said, “Maybe someone should be interviewing the New York Times about why they write so much about modern dance,” and Gary followed up with, “36 hours in Snoozeville.” (Catherine: “That was my major.”)

• Selina in debate prep: “Thank you to Date Rape University, first question.”

• Mike, continuing to stir shit for the Meyer campaign even though he no longer works there, publishes an open letter to Andrew on BuzzFeed — remember, he invested his life savings with that scumbag, or, as Selina put it, “We’re talking about what, $6?”

• Selina, trying to normalize: “Oh, you have chocolate all over your face like a child, but you’re an adult! That’s adorable.” And, to a woman with four kids, “That’s one busy beaver!”

• RIP, dog mayor of Lurlene! Congratulations on your new position, Richard. “Novelty mayors are Iowa’s No. 1 source for tourism, after tornado chasing and coming into town to buy Sudafed.”

• So Marjorie was a Green Beret, right?

• Selina, to Jonah’s stepwife (wifesister?): “Mrs. Ryan, or do you prefer your maiden name, Mrs. Ryan?”

• Dan’s former CBS co-host is running the debate. Hi, Brie! Good to get one last look at everybody in our farewell season. Also spotted at the debate: Amy’s ex, who is a governor now and still can’t get a word in.

Insult of the Episode
Selina, upon seeing Felicia, Andrew’s “paralegal”: “Oh God, we’re all going to jail.”

Compliment of the Episode
Selina, to the country: “God bless America for hating women almost as much as I do.”

Jonah Shall Henceforth Be Known As …
Did I miss a name this week?

Veep Recap: Man Up