Veep: “Library” Season 6 Episode 2 Review

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Veep moves in the right direction by giving Selina a post-presidential purpose, but it still suffers from its characters being too scattered.

Veep has a lot of reshuffling to do this season, given its ambitious change of setting and scope. The life of a former president is not something that’s often explored on TV, and so I’m confident that David Mandel and his team are going to take us somewhere interesting this season. Still, there’s some course-correcting that needs to be done in order to get this show back to its pitch-perfect self.

Episode two is already several steps ahead of last week’s premiere, opening strong with a tightly constructed sequence in which Selina visits another former president’s new library. There’s a lot to enjoy within the first few minutes, including the excellent physical comedy of Gary flipping Selina over a security guard rail like a mannequin, Selina’s signature fake smile and laugh at several of her colleagues, and a hysterical moment in which she has Gary run fast and Richard walk slow so it appears like she isn’t in a hurry.

Most importantly, this sequence leads to an important goal for Selina—one that could span several episodes, if not the whole season: creating a legacy. Now that she knows she can’t run for president again, she’s going to take it upon herself to make sure she’s fondly remembered. This week, it takes the form of her opening her own library. Her newly ignited passion for this project is exciting, and having Andrew on board only spelled trouble on the horizon. Veep, as usual, is smart to have Selina get caught in the blowback of his shady decision-making. Andrew is vile, but Selina is not exactly a moral character herself. After all, it’s always fun to watch her try and worm her way out of a sticky situation.

This situation arrives via a hilarious car ride scene involving voice dictated texts that reveal Andrew’s affair with the woman painting Selina’s self-portrait. From the overt detail of the texts, to Gary lunging at Andrew while shouting, “YOU’RE THE DEVIL,” everything about this scene had the typical electricity that we’ve come to know and love on this show. What follows is equally as exciting, as Selina inadvertently becomes the villain of the story after firing the painter and getting accused of victim-blaming.

Political affairs are something that are all too commonplace in the real world, and the women are always the ones that get short end of the stick—even if they did nothing wrong. Veep‘s take on this is an inspired bit of satire. Watching Selina walk through a crowd of angry feminist protestors, and then later try to seduce her former college fling (hi Amy Brenneman!) in order to keep the library plans afloat is gleefully thrilling.

While Selina’s narrative this week is fantastic, “Library” struggles in other aspects with its characters so far apart. Amy, in particular, is still being shunted with her plotline of trying to run Buddy’s campaign. Things are made “worse” (better for Amy) after she runs a negative attack ad against his opponent, and then actually worse when Buddy gets pulled over for a DUI and shows a female officer his junk. Amy is forced into a hypocritical situation here. She tells Selina on the phone not to be one of those women who “stands by her man,” and then she does exactly that as Buddy holds a press conference to apologize.

Ana Chlumsky’s pained expressions—even through closed eyes—are incredible, but I can’t help but feel like this entire storyline is miles away from everything else going on. Buddy and Amy’s relationship is clearly heading nowhere good, so watching them bicker and her try to micromanage his campaign every week will likely be more exhausting than funny. Selina’s plan to build a legacy for herself is intriguing. This is already a dead end.

Yet, Veep showed promise toward the end of this week’s episode by relocating Dan back to DC. Even the small interaction he has with Jonah in ruining his date was priceless. Veep is, first and foremost, and ensemble comedy, and so anytime the cast is put together, the real magic happens. Hopefully, the other shoe will drop with Amy’s plotline soon, and this show can fully get back on track. Grade: B+

 

Some Other Notes:

  • Catherine and Marjorie—easily the show’s most earnest characters—announce they’re trying to get pregnant this week. It’s all very sweet and, of course, Selina hates it because it makes her feel old. I absolutely loved the final moment between Marjorie and Selina where Marjorie compliments her by saying she’s bad, but not as bad as Andrew, and Selina lets her call her mom once. Both of these things felt so true to these characters, and I’m really liking the weird, stiff bond that’s forming between them.
  • A little surprised by the casting choice of June Diane Raphael as the artist doing Selina’s portrait, only because she was given so little to do. Hopefully, they’ll bring her back.
  • Jonah’s date scenes are all gold, and I could easily watch him go on a hundred bad dates. “The bathroom’s that way….”
  • Mike is back as Selina’s Communications Director, and seeing him try to do his job—which, to be honest, he was never really great at—while trying to take care of his daughter is all kinds of fun.
  • Selina’s crack about Camilla Parker Bowles being Princess Diana’s driver was so great, and caused me to audibly guffaw.
  • Best Richard Line: “Never forget! Oh wait, sorry, that’s the Holocaust. I forgot.”

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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