Veep: “Chicklet” Season 6 Episode 5 Review

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Matt Walsh shine in a winning, character-focused episode.

You know a show is strong when it still continues to surprise you six seasons in. “Chicklet” is an excellent episode of Veep that hones in on Selina’s less-than-perfect childhood. This episode isn’t meant to excuse her often terrible and selfish actions, but it does shed light on why she is the way she is. It’s also totally hilarious.

“Chicklet” works best when it showcases Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Matt Walsh, who haven’t shared a large amount of screen time this season until now. Selina is in a post-heart attack depression, which is most certainly escalated by her inability to find a location for her library. Mike is desperate to get Selina’s book underway—both because he’s getting pressure from the publisher, and because he wants to finally get paid. What follows is an unexpectedly delightful dive into Selina’s past, particularly her relationship with her father.

Things get set into motion after a visit from Andrew (still slimy as ever). Selina gets to talking about how he was cheating on her during her first campaign, and then starts to open up about her past. It’s a nice change of pace to see Selina and Mike getting along with each other, especially since their bonding makes Gary visibly uncomfortable. Tony Hale isn’t in this episode as much, but even his brief, angry glances at Mike are hysterical.

Listening to Selina talk about her father, Mike starts to realize that several details don’t add up. There are mysterious trips to Cuba that he took, and the details of his death are a little murky. In a terrific scene, Selina shifts back-and-forth from voting on the board of a pharmaceutical company—obviously all her votes are for terrible things—to yelling at Mike that her father and childhood were perfectly normal. It’s a perfect example of the way Veep can go from high intensity to more farcical humor in a snap. Everything, from Selina’s impassioned defense of her dad to Gary coming in with a bottle of sprite to Selina’s childish impersonation of Mike is timed perfectly.

A visit with Selina’s uncle clears some things up, much to her dismay. It turns out that her father wasn’t the man she thought he was, and her mother wasn’t the monster she made her out to be. Veep isn’t a show that’s rich in mythology, but when you add this new development to the look into Selina’s childhood that we got in last season’s outstanding “Mother,” it really helps in building dimensions to her character. Selina is egotistical and makes awful choices, and finding out that parts of her life were a lie helps to really ground these qualities in a sense of realism.

Still, Veep knows how to balance its introspection with comedy. Following the visit to her uncle, she drunkenly drives with Mike to her old barn and the two of them tear the place apart. Season 6 has already featured some great physical comedy moments, but this one really takes the cake. Dreyfus and Walsh are gut-bustingly funny as they smash and break everything in sight—save for a pencil holder that Selina made while she was at camp. Mike angrily yelling about Selina not paying him is justified, but it becomes even funnier when he transitions into yelling about random things he doesn’t like about himself. “I’m a grown man! I shouldn’t eat when I’m full!” is my personal favorite.

Selina and Mike’s trip down memory lane ends with Selina coming up with the idea for her book, and its as self-centered as you might guess. Their narrative is the highlight of “Chicklet,” for sure, but this week’s subplots are very enjoyable as well. Gary and Amy spend the episode attempting to move Selina’s wax figure in Madame Tussauds as it keeps getting put in positions where people are trying to mime having sex with it. It’s silly, but very amusing, and Gary and Amy have a great dynamic.

Elsewhere, Dan realizes that his CBS This Morning co-host is the one who’s been spreading rumors about them sleeping together. This isn’t developed too much, but I’m interested to see how this affects his job moving forward as being a TV talking head seems like his dream career. Marjorie and Catherine, on the other hand, make great headway in their attempt to get pregnant by asking Richard to be the sperm donor. It turns out that Richard has never masturbated in his life, and Sam Richardson once again steals the scene with his sunny naïveté. Spoiler alert: he figures it out.

The one subplot that doesn’t really land too well is Jonah hooking up with Sherman Tanz’s daughter. The show seems to be setting up a new opposition for Ben and Kent, which is great because they’ve been pretty underutilized this season. Yet, Jonah having another person bossing him around seems like it will only add to the noise instead of cut through it. Veep has a lot of moving parts now that several cast members are in a different city. It’s difficult to get invested in Jonah’s manipulative new girlfriend when Selina is driving a sedan through a barn door. His post-hookup call with Richard, however, is amazing.

Jonah’s stale subplot doesn’t do much to deter from the greatness of “Chicklet.” As Veep navigates the new territory of Selina’s life as a former president, its strength is in its characters. With last week’s Gary-centric episode, and this week’s focus on Mike, I’m glad the series still has new tricks up its sleeve. I don’t know if Selina needs to have one-on-one bonding with each of her staff members, but I also wouldn’t complain if she did. Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes:

  • The opening scene of this week’s episode is like if Aaron Sorkin wrote comedy. Watching Selina bicker with her staff while putting on an oversized t-shirt and smiling for a charity photo—and then subsequently remove the t-shirt in disgust once they leave—was mesmerizing.
  • Poor Mike. Even though he bonded with Selina this week, he still got the short end of the stick with his daughter’s private school application.
  • Selina drunkenly showing her security detail her pencil holder made me burst out laughing.
  • I love that Selina is completely unsurprised by the fact that people were trying to have sex with her wax figure
  • “Squirrel, you’re an intense little girl, and now you finally have a friend.”

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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