Arts Desk

Veep, Week 4: Compounding Fuck-Ups

In which Arts Desk and DCist discuss Veep, HBO's comedy series about the vice presidency

Everything got painted broadly in this week's Veep, didn't it, Ben? When Amy and Dan met with the senator from Arizona, the steakhouse—surely it was a steakhouse—was lit as dimly as Don Corleone's study. Make a deal with the dark side? Enter a dark room. Ditto the birther-baiting crane-crash survivors—whose feverish, approving reaction ("USA!") to Selina's Meet the Press gaffe duly horrified the vice president and her staff. It's getting harder and harder not to conclude—as Slate's David Haglund did last week—that Selina is a Democrat, nevermind showrunner Armando Iannucci's insistence on keeping the characters' party affiliations vague.

I'm with Haglund: Selina is definitely a donkey, if a moderate and spineless one. She instructed her minions to cross the aisle and break bread with Senator Has-a-Small-Woodland-Creature-for-a-Goatee (I missed his name)—this after it became clear that progressive  Sen. Doyle would no longer support her signature filibuster-reform legislation. Here, getting a win no matter what ("USA!") superseded the bad optics of forging an alliance with the Senate's anti-immigration wing not moments after she falsely accused a Chinese-American potential rival of being something other than fully American. Those fuck-ups will only compound in future episodes, I'd wager—though they might just secure Selina some Tea Party support ("USA!") should the president drop her from his ticket. (And would you blame him?)

Selina's mishandling of, well, everything extended to her personal life, too, which this week expanded to include a hardly-kept-secret paramour—and I agree, Ben, this was the episode's most worthwhile strand. But why try to keep the affair hidden? Other than the fact that he might have Korean neighbors who'd be none-to-be-pleased to see Selina after her talk-show appearance, we don't know much about the vice president's undercover boyfriend. I'm sure Selina's image-conscious shop would love to set up their divorcee boss on a wholesome date with a citizen of good repute; I'm guessing that Selina's boy toy, whoever he is or whatever he does, wouldn't pass vetting. Maybe he's a Republican? Come to think of: In Veep's universe, that'd probably count as bipartisanism.

As for Jonah's plaid hot pants vs. Mike's salmon trousers, I'll give it to the veep's grizzled press secretary, with points for presentation: Mike's restful pose, when Selina opened the door to her limo, was straight-up Caravaggio.

Actually, that's a terrible image. I'm not sure there was much by way of inventive potty-mouthing this week, but did anything beat this line (which I'm paraphrasing) from Governor Chung: "The heart on my chest may be purple, but inside it's red, white, and blue." No way, at least if we're going by Selina's epic eye-roll.

So, Ben: Who's Selina schtupping? That's the only question with which I'm left.

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