Clothes & Concrete
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Mommy Meyer may not be as brilliant as the classic East Wing, but it’s easily one of the most substantive installments in this solid but slightly underwhelming fourth season of Veep. Sexism is inherently ingrained in the American political culture and it doesn’t take a lengthy twist of logic to understand how men and women are treated differently in the political arena. Men are given the serious questions of policy and women are more likely to be asked about how they are dressed. Men will be asked about their geopolitical contributions and women get the questions of who is taking care of her children. A man can be an idiot but he will often find himself being taken more seriously than the most accomplished woman to his side. Veep has been progressive in portraying a substantial number of female politicians in positions of power in varying degrees of political ideology, but the show’s writers are smart enough to understand that that is still a far cry from true progress.
The central thematic structure that unifies this hilarious episode is the First Families Bill, which frankly sounds like a completely fantastic idea. It’s a strong symbol of Selina’s progressive past, a piece of legislation that would actually help American working families but it’s in real danger of just remaining a symbol. Progressive legislation is difficult to swing through in a corporate oligarchy of a political system and with Selina as the first female president, it gives the bill an entirely new, ugly angle. Selina, not someone who ardently espouses modesty, wanted her name fervently attached to the bill. Ask and you shall receive. The press turned into a nickname of the “Mommy Meyer” bill that only confounds the perception of the bill being a reckless spending binge by a nanny state. The “mommy” angle latches onto Selina’s femininity, suggesting quite clearly that perhaps she’s too emotional and maternal to think about the bill in a practical sense. It’s ugly, despicable, and will more than likely escape all attention because it’s mainstream enough to come across as jovial and innocent.
The most uncomfortable display of open sexism was at the lobbyists for concrete. It’s a masterful display of the crony capitalism at the heart of American politics, where even while lobbying for concrete, Sydney finds a way to spin the tragedy of a shooter into an opportunity to help big pharmaceutical companies with mental health drugs. Amy is clearly the most uncomfortable one here, trying to see some light in young political science majors being told to dress in tighter dresses and blouses to get old congressman hard for lobbying (literally and metaphorically). “In a way that is deeply feminist,” she adds uncomfortably and unhelpfully. Amy’s expression as Dan rings the loud lobbying gong is a curious one. Her fiery brilliance was sure to garner her success no matter where she went. She just expects the people around her to at least share some semblance of the intellect she has. Even though she finds some of it in the lobbyists around her, her demeanor suggests that while she may be smiling confidently, the arena may simply be too morally bankrupt for her to stomach.
There are great moments splattered throughout the episode, like the intruder who wants to kill Selina and Tom James and someone copying him. Selina’s reaction to the first intruder being indignation that he didn’t even yell her name was perfect, as was Tom’s rationale on legalizing drugs. Tom sees his first campaign screw-up when he suggests that the ex-marine who shot three people dead before shooting himself may be a victim as well. Jonah’s rampant sexism and homophobia is deeply unsettling this episode, as if he’s trying to mask his own molestation by victimizing others. Richard once again proves that he has become a shining star of this ensemble, never leaving a dull moment in his wake. A lot of emphasis is placed on Mike this episode, with his best moment arriving when the team literally throws him under the bus to cover up for Tom’s earlier mistake. His eventual realization of how poor he is at his job is hilarious yet genuinely cathartic. Selina’s little dinner with her old friends is a great way to show how she is out of touch with her former roots while simultaneously casting light on how her former friends would buy the Families First bill from Tom but not her. Sometimes even the greatest title in the free world isn’t enough.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“You don’t have the cheekbones for depression.”
+“I should be president or something.”
+“As women, we really did get it done.”
+“He’s got a thoughts and prayers template.”
+“It’s getting crucified on the Hill.”; “Just like that Jesus guy.”
+“Gary, every room you’re in is a panic room.”
+“Tom James just shot his mouth off into his foot.”
+“Words don’t kill people, like guns.”
+“You might be the smartest woman I’ve ever paid for.” Ugh.
+“I’m not a shit cleaner.”
+The classic non-apologetic apology
+“Words are like your second circle.”
+“She lost all of her baby fat.”
+“Mike, you’re a spokesman. You’re not supposed to say anything.”
+Tom realizing the depth of the political shitshow around him and him resigning himself to it with liquor in hand was a fantastic scene. Hugh Laurie is killing it.
+The shallowness of body images with Selina pushing the ice cream away from Catherine
+Selina’s insistence on wanting a gun
+Sue shushing the Secret Service
+“I think I’m a fraud.”
+Mike realizing that in the case of The Emperor’s New Clothes, he’s the clothes. What a terrific little character moment.
Title: Mommy Meyer
Story By: Armando Iannucci & Roger Drew and David Quantick
Teleplay By: Roger Drew and David Quantick
Directed By: Becky Martin
Image Courtesy: EW