Veep, 7.02: Discovery Weekend

First thoughts, probably disordered

1. Clovis was one of Veep’s most cutting episodes, taking aim at the supposed saviours of the universe in Silicon Valley, and showing them to be every bit as shallow, narcissistic and corrupt as the DC cast. I feel like this episode wanted to do something similar, but couldn’t quite get there. Like, most of the jokes were about the William Fichtner character (amazing casting btw, I never knew he could be funny) being a closeted gay – which is not that unusual for a man of his age – and narcissistic, instead of taking aim at his presumption that he has the right to subvert a democracy because he made a lot of money.

2. Dan being dragged by the harem of twinks was glorious. More please. He’s more than overdue a long spell of abuse, after everything Amy’s had to put up with. I want to watch that segment on repeat for hours.

3. The show went back to its perennial favourite joke of “Selina tries to give a speech and fails horribly” which – I know this seems strange given how awful the rest of the show can be – is the one I really cannot stand. Cringe comedy is not my thing, so I was watching it with my fingers in my ears.

4. For all the abuse Amy took from Selina, I feel like she kind of got the last laugh in this one. Tom explicitly describes Michelle as his Amy, and guess who he’s having an affair with.

5. As for Tom and Selina…SELINA. How many times are we going to wind up going down this road? Every time he’s nice to her it’s a cover for a scheme to fuck her over, every single time. I’d tell her to get a grip, but I think that ship sailed about thirty years ago.

That said, things do seem more…settled between them than they were previously. They have at least both been open about the feelings they like to pretend they have – the closest thing to a happy ending I can imagine for Selina at this point is settling down to share heart medication with Tom at the age of 82 (assuming she’s finally accepted the end of her presidential ambitions) and this episode didn’t actually close the door on that possibility.

His poor wife.

6. “What, were you wearing a full-length mirror?” was genuinely funny. (And a joke that’s aimed more at Dan than Amy, take note).

7. Called it! Selina gets in trouble for talking to Mike as though he still works for her, and isn’t a journalist.

8. Jonah and Beth actually seem quite well suited – she even thinks he’s funny.

One of the things I was becoming increasingly unhappy with after season 6 was the show’s handling of sexual violence – the way it used harassment or assault as a kind of spicy condiment to jokes, cheap ways to kick up a zinger, rather than realities of the political environment. (This might have been in my thoughts when I plotted out You Were Always On My Mind).

To my relief, they appear to have at least backed off making the sexual assault jokes with Dan, however vile he is in other ways. But I’m…not totally sure how I feel about the #NotMe gag. Like, it is funny – but it also seems to feed into a narrative of treating #MeToo like a shallow internet frenzy, rather than a serious political movement. There’s a refusal to acknowledge that women’s rage is legitimate that bothers me.

But then I thought that off hand line from Selina – “that’s bad now” – was incredibly telling of how much she absolutely is a product of a political environment that treated her with the absolute bare minimum of respect. Turns out relentlessly sexually harassing women and granting them respect based only on their fuckability is bad for them – who knew? (Aside from every feminist on the planet).

9. Oh Amy. This is exactly what I was afraid of – that her decision to have an abortion would be in a context where it’s entirely framed by Dan’s awfulness, not her own wishes.

I’m not even saying it’s a bad decision – I’m adamantly pro-choice – but man does it play into one of the more insidious arguments against abortion rights, that granting them allows men to evade their responsibilities as partners and parents by forcing women to have abortions. With as rare as honest depictions of abortion are in popular culture – something like a third of all women have one at some point, though you’d never know it – this is one I really do want Veep to get right. If the Irish referendum experience taught me anything, it’s that when an honest discussion is had about the realities of why abortion is necessary, people make the right choice for society, whatever their personal feelings might be.

10. Square-dancing while suffering from morning sickness seems like a uniquely hellish prospect – though at Amy’s stage of pregnancy (which has to be at least four months, per the timeline) it has usually dissipated, somewhat. Not that Veep seems terribly clear about the timeframes.

11. Dan is 39 and a half! My geeky head felt quite relieved to have that nailed down – and also that Veep has finally given up the pretense that Dan is in his early thirties. Reid Scott hasn’t been pulling that off in a while (from what I recall, he has two kids under three, so the poor man probably isn’t getting much in the way of sleep). For what it’s worth, I’d assume Amy is being played at Anna Chlumsky’s actual age, or slightly younger – for Amy to be older than Dan at this point just wouldn’t track. So the actual age of the younger characters is probably Amy to Jonah to Dan – which is what has always seemed most sensible to be given the character dynamics involved.

12. Dan is just…vile in this episode. Sleeping with a 19 year old (and…I know Reid Scott is handsome, but still, a waitress at the hotel – this is getting into Dominic De Villepin territory), who has the same name Amy chose for their daughter and telling Amy about it? That’s downright cartoonish. And…gross, on just about every level. No wonder Amy made her snap decision, he’s being utterly repulsive.

13. That said, I think Amy is being almost as self-absorbed as Dan here, though far more justifiably. She’s so desperate for some sign of maturity in him (understandably) that she doesn’t actually listen to him – any honest assessment of his little period of introspection would have made her realise how meaningless it was, certainly not a reason to effectively propose to him. And I get it, I do, because she loves him and she’s wanted a family (of some kind) for a while now, but even so.

14. For what it’s worth, when Amy makes a decision she tends to stick to it, so I wouldn’t expect much in the way of dithering next episode. What I am baffled by is, going by the episode description, Dan comes with her to the clinic. Based on what I just saw…why? Why would she want him there, or anywhere within a hundred miles of her? (Or to ever have physical contact with him again, as disgusting as he’s being).