Veep, Week 6: Pissing Contests
In which Arts Desk and DCist discuss Veep, HBO's comedy series about the vice presidency
I'm with you, Ben: This week's Veep was 90 percent bummer. The sputtering launch event for the anti-obesity program; the mad dash to the elementary-school photo op; the reveal that Selina might be pregnant, the (mistaken) reveal that shark-nosed White House correspondent Leon West knows she's pregnant, the (likely mistaken) reveal that she's "really, really pregnant"—it mostly left me cold.
And feeling teased, for that matter: For much of the episode, we saw a P.R. catastrophe quickly gaining heat. Selina tells Amy she might be pregnant, and swears her to secrecy. Amy phones to tell Mike. Mike tells Amy the press thinks Selina is "repugnant." Amy hears "pregnant," and cue the scrambling. Soon, Selina's entire staff knows their boss might be with child, and we're set up for a major disaster: Selina taking a pregnancy test in building full of small children and the vice presidential press corps. She even emerges from the bathroom with a cup of urine, which must have sent any P.R. professionals watching Sunday night's episode into hair-pulling fits.
Then Selina spills the cup, apparently no one but her staff notices, and Leon West gets a handshake full of piss. We went through all of that is-she-screwed? agony for this?
You mention you wouldn't be surprised if this particular plot development didn't stick, given the looseness of Veep's story threads. Maybe—Gary's the one who read the pregnancy test, and he is, as you say, an idiot. But I suspect Selina's maybe-pregnancy will carry us through Veep's season finale in a couple weeks, and perhaps profitably. After all, in thinking the press was onto her, she told her covert boy toy, Ted, that he's got to propose. At this point, it's doubtful she can stop him.
Which could make for a P.R. clusterfuck of Biden-on-Meet-the-Press proportions. Note to self: Watch an episode of Veep with an actual federal communications staffer, because at this point, Veep is a masterclass on how not to handle a crisis. Whether that's dampened its critique of executive busywork, I haven't quite decided.
Speaking of Ted, I guess we were wrong: She's clearly clued her staff into the affair, and if she's willing to marry Ted post haste, it's doubtful he's a robber baron or political adversary, as I suspected. We got a glimpse of his office this episode, which appears to 1) be quite large; and 2) have a view of the National Mall, though I had trouble with the angle. So: Senator? Museum director? Maybe he's in charge of the U.S. Botanical Gardens.
We learned a little more about hapless Gary this week—his dad's a Man's Nan, while Gary's, well, basically an asexual manservant. This particular psychological fleshing-out felt much more pat and unsatisfying than the treatment that Jonah—extreme-metal fan, baseball nut, sufferer of fructose intolerance—got last week. And I was pleased, and then quickly tweaked, by the guest appearance of Patrick Fischler as an overly touchy, overly eager, lip-reading photographer. Viewers of highbrow TV will remember Fischler from season 2 of Mad Men, where he played the cuckolded comedian Jimmy Barrett; he's also the brother-in-law of star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, which reminds me of one theme Veep hasn't yet tackled: nepotism.
Then again: Veep is a show about the federal government. Anyone hoping to write the inevitable sitcom about the current D.C. leadership is still busy collecting material.