VEEP returned for its sixth season this week and one question that’s been on people’s minds leading up the premiere was whether or not the show would still be funny in an era where our political climate is so bizarre and unpredictable, it’s almost satire itself. Would it still be enjoyable to laugh at incompetent, narcissistic buffoons in power on TV when incompetent, narcissistic buffoons are in power in real life? Selina in her naked pursuit of self-interest has drawn comparisons to Trump, but there’s comparisons to Hillary Clinton this season, as a defeated female politician navigating public life after a devastating loss. In this episode, she reemerges a year after her defeat, making her media debut on CBS This Morning, hosted by none other than her old employee Dan Eagan.
Veep’s trademark biting wit, profanity laced tirades and blustering egos are still on full display, but this episode wasn’t as hilarious as previous efforts have been. Part of that is due to the things required from a season premiere, especially one set after a time jump. The show needed to establish where the characters are at now and some have ended up in pretty funny places. Gary is still working for Selina, but has to deal with Richard, who’s now part of Team Meyer. The three are working on setting up Selina’s foundation, the Meyer Fund, and writing her memoir. Selina left the White House nearly broke, so she’s dependent on Katherine for money. Katherine inherited all of Selina’s mother’s wealth and is still married to Marjorie, whose deadpan reactions and insistence on calling Selina “Mom” were arguably the highlight of the episode.
Dan is up for a promotion to co-host of a morning show at CBS, but his producer Steve (Paul Scheer, a welcome addition to any cast) that Jane’s (Margaret Colin) last three co-hosts were not only fired, but Jane went out of the way to ruin their careers. It’s hard to imagine a worse boss than Selina, but Jane could give her a run for her money–she hurls a plate of salad at the ground, telling her team to figure out what was wrong with it. Jonah’s in his first term in Congress, milking his cancer for all the sympathy and support her can, even shaving his head instead of admitting he’s in remission. Dan invites him on the show, provoking him into storming off the set in a rage, hoping that these antics will get him fired instead of promoted, but this is politics in 2017. An on-air meltdown by a politician is no longer a career ender. It’s just great ratings.
Ben is working for Uber, but his unapologetic political incorrectness doesn’t vibe well with his woke millennial co-workers. Kent is working for Jonah, looking absolutely miserable with this turn of events. We get a scene of Jonah in Congress, passionately arguing against healthy lunches in schools–“no wonder kids are shooting up schools with lunches like these.” The camera pans to reveal that he’s addressing a nearly empty room. In the past, Veep has mainly focused on satirizing the executive branch, but the legislative branch is ripe for parody as well. Ben joins Kent at the end of the episode.
Mike’s a stay at home dad to his four new kids, but jumps at the chance to leave that craziness behind, even if it means working for no pay for Selina. She needs his diary to write her memoir. Amy is in Nevada, running her now-fiance Buddy’s campaign for governor. One issue with this episode is that Selina’s character is the funniest when she’s playing against an equal. Gary and Richard can’t stand up to her, so she bulldozes right over them. Amy is one of the few characters who’s able to call Selina out on her shit, so hopefully she returns to the fray soon.
The other thing this episode had to do was put an end once and for all to Selina’s political aspirations. Of course Selina would be interested in running for president again, but putting her through another campaign would be the show retreading plots and situations it has done before. Ben is the one who bursts her bubble permanently, telling her that she doesn’t have the support of the people or the party. Everything is now set up for a season focusing on Selina as a private citizen, but it was a bit of an awkward journey getting there.
Season 6, Episode 01 (S06E01)
Veep airs Sundays at 1030PM on HBO
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor