[9.2/10] One of the things about Veep that occasionally throws me for a loop but which I also really admire about the show is how dense it is. (Hold your horses, George Lucas.) In keeping with the frenzied nature of the Beltway shuffle, there’s always fifteen things going on in a given episode and it makes it hard to keep up with every storyline and thread that makes its way through.
But sometimes it all comes together in something that’s not quite a harmony, but at least a beautiful and very funny cacophony. That is this episode to a tee, and it gets particular force by centering everything around a countdown to Selina’s big announcement speech, which creates a spine for all those crazy happenings.
I also really appreciated the theme of this one. There’s a really interesting and submerged commentary on how women are treated in politics and in life writ large. There are a number of parallels drawn between Selina and Alicia Bryce, the leader of a “walk for universal childcare” group who’s roped into the photo op. Both of them aim to do good, but both find themselves being steamrolled by the apparatus around them to have their concerns ignored and papered over in favor of doing business as usual, often by a collection of old white guys.
And what’s really interesting is that Selina does it to Alicia herself. That even as Selina is having her own push for Universal Childcare squashed by the jerk Senator, she’s brushing off Alicia and not really listening to her. It’s a canny move to bring the two of them together and have Selina using Alicia’s daughter as a focal point for leaning on the Senator and getting a sliver of what she wanted in there, even if she just as soon demurs from making any sort of commitment on it.
I don’t know, man. This may be the most cynical show I’ve watched, and I’m putting it next to the likes of The Wire and Moral Orel on those terms. It posits such self-interest and venal behavior from pretty much everyone who matters, but with a dismissive smile from everyone. As chilling as it is funny in some ways.
I also appreciated the irony of Selina getting so worn down and frustrated by not being able to advance universal healthcare as a cause and her being steamrolled on it, only for the thing that snaps her back to life being her own daughter telling her about how hard it was to grow up as her daughter. Selina continually treats Catherine terribly, and I appreciate how the show never shies away from or excuses that, but it again creates some really interesting parallels.
On top of that, there’s just some funny stuff happening outside of the main deal. Mike’s interactions with Alicia and Jonah are great. Jonah is in particularly rare form when he’s awkwardly trying to ingratiate himself to the black community as a reporter. And Mike begging with “goober peas,” while getting rebuffed by “Jonad” only to win at the end of the day is a fun and funny little story.The SNL stuff is slight but great as well. There is, again, some fun winking humor in former castmember Julia Louis-Dreyfus complaining about the show and the whole cast lamenting “comedians” as the bane of their existence. The show also perfectly captures the stilted, not-ready-for-prime-time vibe of politicians appearing in political sketches on the show.
Overall, it’s one of the deepest, most interesting, most intricate, and funniest episodes Veep has ever done.