For the second week in a row, VEEP felt off its game. There were still some very funny moments, but last season set an incredibly high bar for the show that it’s so far struggled to meet. Splitting up the characters makes sense logically, as now that Selina isn’t President, there’s no reason for them to all work together, but it’s also robbed the show of the excellent comedic chemistry the cast shares. Some of the decisions work–it’s hilarious watching Kent and Ben reduced to scouring the internet for dates for Jonah as married politicians move up faster than single ones–but others are less successful.
Mike’s transformation from hapless press secretary to equally hapless father hasn’t paid off comedically yet, although Selina’s reactions to him bringing his kids to work are amusing. Mike feels relegated to the background of scenes instead of an essential part of the show. Dan’s new gig at CBS has him working under yet another horrible boss, but his relationship with Selina was funnier. The scenes with Senator Furlong and his aide Will, usually a reliably funny pairing, also fell flat this week, although it’s possible their schtick of Furlong forcing Will to say awful things is simply played out.
But the character who feels the most underutilized is Amy. Amy’s stuck in Nevada, running Buddy’s campaign–a man she doesn’t even seem to like, even though they’re engaged. Buddy gets upset that Amy ignored him and attacked his opponent’s wife, so he gets drunk. When the cops pull him over, he launches into a tirade against women in general. Amy’s forced to stand next to him at the press conference where he apologizes, playing the role of the dutiful fiance standing by her man–something she swore she’d never do. Hopefully the writers will find a way to get her back to D.C.
Thankfully, Selina and Gary’s relationship is as hilarious as ever. This week, Selina decides to focus on building her presidential library after attending the opening of President Hughes’s, where we meet a former president who rudely questions whether or not she deserves one– “seems like it would be more like a book mobile.” She wants the library to be at Yale University, but they respond with an emphatic no. They’re upset over her decision to pardon the prison magnate mentioned last episode–it’s a little strange that there’s so much controversy and discussion about a character we’ve never met and a decision that happened off screen.
Yale’s not interested, but Smith College, Selina’s alma mater, might be. Plus Andrew has a Pakistani who’ll donate $20 million to its construction if she can get him off the no-fly list–in classic Selina fashion, she tells him “as long as he doesn’t blow up my library, I don’t give a shit.” We meet the president of Smith College, Regina aka Gigi (Amy Brenneman), who Selina may or may not have experimented with under the influence of chardonnay as a undergrad. She’s on board to support the library, until Selina becomes embroiled in a sex scandal.
Andrew, the worst person in the world, cheated on Selina with Helen (June Diane Raphael), who was hired to paint Selina’s official portrait. Selina learns this when Andrew’s phone reads out loud one of her texts over their car’s speakers–the funniest scene of the episode. Selina fires her, but she goes public with her story, claiming that Andrew sexually harassed her. Selina’s accused of blaming the victim, which of course enrages the students at Smith, a very liberal, feminist institution.
Selina’s forced to rehire Helen to appease Regina, but fires her again once Smith decides that don’t want the library on their property after all. It was a bit disappointing that Veep brought in June Diane Raphael, an incredibly funny and talented comedic actress, but only gave her about three lines. Why cast someone recognizable if you’re not going to really use them? Now that Andrew is officially out of Selina’s life, maybe the show will find its footing again. It’s been an uneven two episodes, but navigating post-presidential life was never going to be easy.
Season 6, Episode 02 (S06E02)
Veep airs Sundays at 1030PM on HBO
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor