A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Veep returns for what promises to be a tremendous fourth season with the usual hilarity and cynical self-serving behavior from the show’s leaders of the free world. It’s not the best episode of the show, encumbered by some strategic structural issues that are a rarity for this comedy. But it’s a solid premiere overall that is united by a thread of just how utterly chaotic this particular job is. Power comes with a plethora of responsibilities and that calculation is more often than not completely left out of the equation as it were a minor annoyance that would be addressed at a future moment when convenient. But there are no moments of convenience when the office of the most powerful country on the planet (arguably) is one’s shoulders. The biggest problem with the first season of Veep was that while it did a fair job of portraying the ineptitude of Washington, D.C., it didn’t really give Selina the moments necessary for the audience to believe that she was at any point a powerful female Senator who championed progressive causes.
Here, the first female president of the United States unveils an initiative called Families First, which on the onset sounds like a very typically-euphemistic title for a piece of government legislation. But the program that Selina has designed is designed to essentially lift impoverished children out of poverty and it might be the most progressive piece she has ever created. But like all pieces of legislation, there is money that needs to be magically created before they can be voted on and implemented. Having a Republican-controlled Congress doesn’t make things any easier for Selina, but unless she can come up with the money necessary to implement her proposal, it has no chance of getting off of the ground. Enter in the most sensible area to make cuts in: the military-industrial complex. Ironically, it is simultaneously the most difficult area in which to make cuts in terms of political capital. Selina undercuts that difficulty by having a meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and they propose an immediate cut to their old, Cold War-era submarine program that would give Selina $50 billion in cuts without damaging their overall program and budget.
Selina’s fulcrum this episode is her State of the Union speech and strangely the urgency that normally accompanies situations in Veep that are about to go to hell is absent. Normally there is that frenetic energy that creates an electric The episode begins with her speech but just as the teleprompter goes blank, the episode goes back to twenty-four hours previously and that time snafu simply doesn’t work. I’m not sure why the writers thought it would be a good idea to go back and deconstruct the speech, because the end product of the teleprompter snafu has already been spoiled. Seeing Dan and Mike bumble around with the speech has the usual hilarity (even though one would be understandably presumptuous of the assumption that they might have gotten better at their jobs considering the promotion in office), but that entire sequence is consequently deflated from the backwards time jump.
Selina’s speech is completely shredded by a fairly real consequence that could arise from her potential gutting off the submarine program. On one hand, her actions are perfectly logical but she’s going to hit a snafu in the legislature when legislators who are going to lose those jobs in their districts and or otherwise personal financial interests vote against it. Selina asks for that portion of her speech to be scrapped and after a long, awkward rumble the teleprompter begins to run again and for a second it seemed everything went well. And then it all goes downhill with the previous president speech uploaded. Selina sees the teleprompter getting back on track – with the previous president’s budget that allotted $60 billion to the submarine program. She reads it off, the expression on her face whitening with dread. She keeps her composure, but the episode ending on a long litany of other monstrosities for her to solve was just the capper on this awful beginning of a season for Selina. It’s fitting for that speech to go downhill, but a part of me really wanted to see the acute, politically precise Selina throw the hell out of that teleprompter and give a thundering speech to save the day. It didn’t help that the episode kept on cutting back to her staff in a fairly odd editing job. Veep makes a regular point of portraying how stifling politics can become and this beginning to our new American journey was just as morbid as we would expect.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“Big, fat Greek funeral.”
+“Everything’s my fault now.”
+“I want to.”; “You can.”
+“It smells like Puerto Rico in here.”
+“No, I don’t need you, Gary.”; “She only needs the bag.”
+Patton Oswald as VP Doyle’s Chief of Staff Teddy
+“The cycle of abuse continues.”; “Like a Catholic church.”; “Or an Arkansas wedding.”
+Teddy grabbing Jonah’s balls was a dark moment for this show
+“No, it’s fun for me to stay there.”
+The Prime Minister of India sent Selina a golden duck
+“Maybe we can put Afghanistan on eBay.”; “Yeah, we’d get $10 bucks for that.”
+“Austerity or playgrounds?”
+Thornhill out and Chung neck in neck with Selena?
+“Can mice levitate, Mike?”
+Erickson wanting Amy’s job and her shutting him down
+Coffee preferences: Skinny Latte (Erickson); Triple shot Americano (Amy)
+There’s a coffee that tastes like Colombian tongue sex. I want it.
+“Kent majored in fortune cookies.”
+“It’s 50 shades of great.”
+Veep nerd references
+Amy is Elsa the ice queen
+Amy on the submarine program: “We might as well have an anti-unicorn stance.”
+Furlong is Dobby the House Elf
+“Live long and fuck off.”
+“There are literally no words.”
+“I detest jazz, but that was impressive.”
+Amy on crying: “I didn’t know I could still almost do that.”
+Gary breaks the glasses
+Wrong drone in Yemen
+Two of the hikers are dead and Selena forgot who they were
Title: Joint Session
Story By: Armando Iannucci & Simon Blackwell & Georgia Pritchett
Teleplay By: Simon Blackwell & Georgia Pritchett
Directed By: Chris Addison
Image Courtesy: Screen Crush