Veep – Pledge
This was both not as bad as I expected and also…just tonally all over the place.
1. The writing decisions here are confusing to me. When I said – back before season 6 – that I thought an unplanned pregnancy was a likely outcome for Dan and Amy, it was because I saw it as a tool to make them get to the point – a way of bringing out all the feelings they’ve both been burying for so long.
Except, they go through it, Amy has the abortion…and they somehow manage to do this without talking about anything. Their relationship hasn’t actually developed or changed in any noticeable way from where it was in 6.10 – in fact, in some ways it seems to have regressed, because Dan’s attraction to Amy seems to have basically vanished, so we still have no clear sense of what his feelings, of any, about her are.
It’s like they want us to believe that the abortion is a difficult enough choice for Amy that she struggles with it and finds it upsetting and isn’t even sure afterwards that it is the right option – but it has no impact on how she feels about Dan? Like, why isn’t she angry with him? He has been nothing but an unrepentant turd the entire time – the woman who cries over whether to have an abortion and all but proposes to the father… and the woman who doesn’t even get angry when that father sleeps with her sister who came to support her through that abortion (again)…it doesn’t seem like it’s physically possible for those feelings to exist in the same body.
The show only seems to take Amy’s feelings seriously every second scene, and it’s giving me whiplash. How is it actually possible for her to get through this experience and not have her feelings for Dan change in any noticeable way?
2. That said – Anna Chlumsky knocked it out of the park. And my god it was cathartic to see someone rip into pro-life campaigners the way they deserve. Like, I don’t have sympathy for their cause to begin with, but anyone who pickets an abortion clinic is the beneath contempt. No one’s best day involves an abortion – and for those who don’t choose it but are forced into it by medical necessity it may well be one of the worst days of their lives – only cowards go after people that vulnerable.
3. I am glad the writers brought Sophie to Iowa, if only because it answers the question of why Amy would involve Dan in the abortion at all after his past behaviour – she didn’t want to, planned not to, and then was forced into it by someone who should have supported her being shitty. Sums up the whole storyline, really.
4. Dan sleeps with Sophie. Again.
Really? After everything that’s happened that shows a lack of intelligence on his part that’s almost…clinical. I’d almost find it more believeable if they didn’t have sex and just bonded over being terrible, terrible people and got really drunk together.
That or it genuinely is self-sabotage on his part. I’d almost believe it at this point, because… Dan’s cold-bloodedness when it comes to relationships has always (to me) been kind of his most interesting and most repellant trait. And yet there wasn’t any of that when Amy realised what was going on – he almost seemed ashamed. It feels out of control in a way his sexual horribleness earlier on in the show really, really didn’t.
5. And yet. There are flashes of something else. He’s in Amy’s room the next morning, sleeping in the chair, so presumably he took her back to the hotel, put her to bed after the procedure (and what was that conversation like) and stayed over to be sure she was all right. Not only that, but at some point he went out and got maxi pads, filled them up with whatever it was (I’m guessing Aloe Vera was in the mix somewhere) and froze them. Which suggests quite a lot of planning for someone who refuses to be involved in any of the conversations about what Amy was going to do. He also puts himself between Amy and the protestors, which is the most protective thing I think he’s ever done.
If they are really going with this interpretation of Dan as loving Amy simply as a friend, but not having any romantic feelings for her, I simply don’t know how to square it with the character as he existed up until the end of season 5 – his need for Amy’s attention was such an engrained part of him that he barely feels like the same person. His attraction to Amy was almost his only recognisably human trait for most of the show. And man it is an unsatisfying way of winding up a story seven years in the making.
It was a strange…staging choice to have him so close to Amy when she’s talking to Teddy, literally breathing down her neck, and then…not show us his reaction to her leaving because he presumably had one. (Maybe I need to watch the scene again?) I would have thought that – from Dan’s perspective – now that Amy’s had the abortion he’d expect things to go back to ‘normal,’ so for him to have no feelings about her leaving calls attention to itself. Like, he could be pissy – because he’s going to miss her – or supportive – because he knows he’s been a shit – but the show gave Reid Scott nothing to play.
6. When you think of the mileage the show got out of Amy leaving Selina in season 4, to have her dump Selina’s campaign in an episode where they’re barely in a scene together feels really, really odd.
And it would make sense for Amy to jump onto Jonah’s campaign as a way to avoid her feelings about Dan and Selina, except that the show doesn’t let her express any feelings about Dan and Selina, so it winds up feeling…weirdly inconsequential. Like, it should be a big moment in the show – it should feel like a hard choice she has to make, at least emotionally, and yet…precisely because the show underplays it so much, the moment falls flat.
I think they’re afraid of giving Amy the feelings she should have – because it would take them to a very real emotional place, and the feelings might suffocate the comedy (though, it’s got to be possible to write Amy losing it on Dan the way he deserves and still be funny) – so we end up with a story structure that only makes sense if feelings that we never see depicted are driving Amy’s decisions. The show’s basically eating its own tail.
7. They tried the “Selina makes fun of millennials” angle in season 6 and it wasn’t funny then either. If they must do this, I wish they’d find a way to at least be witty about it. Julia Louis-Dreyfus almost makes it work, but she is doing some heavy lifting.
8. Selina and Tom James. “Curse your sudden yet inevitable betrayal.” How on earth did she not see that coming?
9. Jonah’s wife seems like such a genuinely nice person. I’m enjoying the actress.
10. So, did Buddy somehow successfully become Governor after Amy dumped him? That’s how they refer to him in the debate – but he wasn’t Governor when they met, just Secretary of State, so when did he get elected?
11. The Buzzfeed plotline feels…odd, coming so shortly after they fired all of their journalists.
12. If Leon hitting on pregnant Amy is all they’re going to do with that storyline from season 6, I wish they’d never introduced the damn thing. The comedy earlier on in Veep always came from the writers not losing track of the characters as real people, with recognisable psychology, even when they were doing something outlandish – not endlessly amping up their awfulness. It’s like everyone’s on coke.
13. The must cutting satire is the character of Kemi – who’s kind of an amalgam of Obama and Bernie Sanders, and completely, utterly vapid. Which is probably why the show pulls its punches with her – she made me miss Danny Chung precisely because that never happens with him.
14. If anyone has pics of Amy’s abortion outfit, please send them on for Veep style purposes.