If you recall, last episode Selina shared a giddy and heartwarming moment with Gary as his nose bled in a single person bathroom. Selina’s pretensions had briefly flown away, but as we see now that the cat is out of the bag about POTUS’s resignation, Selina is more selfish than ever. This episode, while it had its moments, veered far more towards developing the characters in relation to their new jobs rather than making us laugh. As the staff scrambles to adjust to the Veep’s new position, the audience is left wondering if Meyer’s change of title will mean a permanent shift in tone.
Keeping the Veep’s career afloat has never been easy, think of when Selina walked into a glass door a few episodes ago and even her recorded tirade last episode, but it has always been a team effort. Without Gary’s over the shoulder info, who knows where Selina would be now. Even though he worships the ground she walks on, after leaving Gary behind at campaign headquarters, Selina finds a random guy good enough to step in and get her a protein bar. I mean anyone is capable of obtaining a protein bar, but that kind of inconsiderate behavior has been par for the course this episode. As far as she is concerned she should take all the credit for her success and no responsibility for her failures.
While much has changed since the penultimate episode, all the characters continue to bumble. Literally the first thing that could go wrong as president, i.e. the swearing in, gets bungled when Mike knocks over a vase causing Selina to miss a line in the oath. Right afterwards Selina accidentally orders the removal of Leslie Kerr, diplomat to Iran, when she meant LeAnn Carr, head of the Department of Energy. Selina blames Kent, who did in fact double-check the name, but the group has consistently had gaffe after gaffe.
As far as she is concerned she should take all the credit for her success and no responsibility for her failures.
All of these problems could be chalked up to increasing pressure, but as often happens at the end of a bitter campaigning cycle, sentimentality, seen in most run of the mill political shows, has been distinctly missing. Selina is not in politics out of the altruistic desire to help her constituents, but rather out of a biological desire for power. In fact, the C story of this episode where Dan milks Jonah for his uncle’s control of the senior vote, presents old folks as nothing but “a bucket of votes” and “people who can punch holes in cards”. The good jokes in this episode, and most Veep episodes for that matter, come from the juxtaposition of Selina’s false charisma to the cameras and her cold-hearted candor and vitriol to her coworkers.
The Politics of Insincerity
Perhaps the most crystal clear example is when Selina puts on the charm for her tour of the factory that makes fireproof jackets for firemen, but when Ben pulls her aside to discuss the Leslie Kerr snafu and how she technically isn’t president, there are enough shits and fucks to make it an episode of Sons of Anarchy. To be honest, I’d think an average episode of Veep has more fucks than an episode of Sons of Anarchy.
While the show’s philosophy of brutal transparency in the not-so-transparent field of politics shown through splendidly, I do think the writers failed to weave their usual offbeat sense of humor into the plot. There were funny moments, I mean the squeaky shoe walk of shame was so simple but brilliantly executed and provided the lovely line, “take these fucking shoes and shoot them… In the fucking head”. Unfortunately, for the most part the humor gets lost in the tension of the scene instead of walking the line the show normally does so well. The scene where Ben grudgingly accepts the position of Chief of Staff didn’t work, partially because I had no idea what his job was before, and neither did Kent fighting with Gary over the tiny office. The Dan and Jonah scenes, as well as the ones with the hapless interns, were competent but without a home run plotline to carry them along, the episode overall loped to a finish much like Selina’s elections results. If the show does indeed continue this tonal shift in the fourth seasons, maybe I’ll reconsider my stance, but as is it now, Veep hasn’t entirely succeeded as Prez.