Veep Season 3 Premiere Review: The Worst Wingman
We didn't devote much coverage to Veep's second season around these parts, but during that time, Armando Iannucci's political satire grew into one of the best comedies on television. While Season 1 had its moments, Season 2 found another groove as Selena Meyer became a little less of a joke and the rest of the cast experienced some disappointment and made poor choices, too. Veep never lost sight of its political focus, but it figured out how to poke at the whole system as opposed to just a few people within that system, and it's been pretty great ever since. The improvements came to a head in the Season 2 finale, where indecision in the Oval Office convinced Selena and the team that she'd have a chance to run for president, then convinced them they wouldn't, but then ultimately convinced them they would. Hey, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert don't call the process "Indecision [Insert Year Here]" for nothing, right?
The Season 3 premiere, "Some New Beginnings," picked up two months after the still-secret news that POTUS would not seek reelection, which was just enough time for Selena to hustle into position for a campaign without the satisfaction of announcing her intentions. She (well, Dan) took the obvious contemporary politician route and penned a memoir with a title that tries to be deep but makes no sense—Some New Beginnings: Our Next American Journey—and the premiere found her stuck in the middle of a book tour in Iowa in hopes of drumming up some caucus support. Veep loves to illustrate how boring and soul-sucking the political machine can be, and Selena's time at the book tour showcased it well, with plenty of weird people, dumb questions, and the like. And of course it didn't help that Gary wasn't around to assist, that Selena wasn't remotely interested in being there, and that she's kind of not a people person (future president!). Whatever ultimately happens, I'm hopeful that Veep will indeed allow Selena to run for president, because I can't stop imagining how awesome (read: uncomfortable) it would be to see her out in the world, kissing babies.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team spent the episode at Mike's wedding to a reporter played by Kathy Najimy. They were all surprisingly enthusiastic! Gary managed everyone's experience as if he were still standing beside Selena, Dan and Amy bickered over who Selena might choose for her campaign manager, and Jonah showed up to act like creepy douche and plug his gossip and entertainment blog, White House Wingman. By the way, I checked to see whether White House Wingman was a real site, and it's not! For shame, HBO. You'll spend a ton of money on Game of Thrones transmedia content, but you won't give me a few fake gossip blog posts in Jonah's voice? Boo.
But as things tend to go on Veep, a news leak sent everyone into a tizzy, and ramped up the comedy a bit. A probable campaign announcement from the Secretary of Defense forced Selena and Ben to attend the crummy funeral of a dead politician they didn't really care about just so they could hunt down their desired campaign manager, while Dan and Amy were forced to run damage control once Jonah took a photo of the staff "scrambling" for his blog. By the way, Jonah took the photo with his iPad mini. If that's not an indictment of his true character, I don't know what is. Don't be that person.
Veep's brand of comedy is rarely gut-busting—it's generally quieter and character-based—and with this being a season premiere, the show seemed more interested in getting the story moving than in delivering a slew of jokes. Selena encountered a former presidential candidate at the funeral who was destroyed in 49 of the 50 states, and listening to him depressingly explain his misery served up the uncomfortable humor that Veep does so well. Similarly charming was Dan and Amy's back-up phone debate, which culminated with her pulling one out from between her legs and underneath her dress. She can also text behind her back! As Dan noted, she's the Jimi Hendrix of texting.
The best part of the episode, though? Jonah getting fired. Veep has realized that it's funnier when multiple people make really stupid decisions, in "Some New Beginnings," that was readily apparent as the villainous Jonah focused too much on his stupid blog instead of doing his job for POTUS. Dan smartly used Jonah's cocksure attitude against him, resulting in one heck of a scene where Gary Cole's Kent laid into Jonah and then fired him. Jonah didn't take it so well; he threatened to announced the White House's wifi password to the world! That's high stakes. There's no doubt that Jonah will be back—heck, it's possible that he'll be hanging around more now that he's untethered from the Oval Office—but watching him get canned is about as satisfying as Veep gets.
By the end of the half-hour, Jonah's mistake had forced the president to finally make his announcement, which means Selena can soon make hers. So really we have Jonah to thank for both a tremendous comedic moment and for kicking off the season's campaign storyline. If Veep is as successful with the pay-off as it's been with the lead-up, we're in for a quite a treat over the next nine weeks.
– Not much Sue in this episode. That's such a bummer. She's the third most important in the world!
– It was nice to see Mike (somewhat) happy for an episode. You have to guess that this marriage, like all the rest, will fail, but Matt Walsh displayed a fun chemistry with Najimy. It'll be great when she stabs in him in the back for some stupid reason and he starts crying about the boat again.
– I appreciate Selena eked out a bit of a win with her really strong eulogy at the funeral, only for her to attempt to deliver the same speech, almost word-for-word, during a call into Mike's wedding. She's not entirely incompetent, she just pushes her luck too far, too often. Funny how the eulogy for a dead man basically worked as a celebration of Mike's life, though.
– Some of the brief jokes I enjoyed in this episode: Selena unzipping her dress after immediately escaping to the hotel room; Gary crying during his speech at the wedding because Selena was calling him and he knew he couldn't answer; Gary immediately calling Selena back only for her to ignore it (Tony Hale is the best); Ben revealing all the White House gossip to the Iowa assistant in a speech meant to keep a lid on the secrets; and Ben taking a weird amount of time to forge Selena's signature in one of her books.
– We won't be covering Veep week to week, but if you haven't been watching the show, you should start. It's really, really great.
What'd you think of Veep's Season 3 premiere? Does Selena actually have a chance on the campaign trail?
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