I’ll admit I was a little hesitant when I saw the title of Veep‘s second episode. A frozen yogurt story… on a show with a former Seinfeld star? Fortunately, ‘Frozen Yoghurt’ was less about desserts, and more about the massive ups and downs of being the nation’s #2, reiterating the fact that the people around the politician are just as important – if not, as a collective, more important- than the VP herself.
The inner circle of a politician are a weird combination of human shield and human solar panel: they’re expected to take everything in, analyze it, and spew it back out into carefully thought out strategy. The game of politics in any country is a minefield of shady people, regrettable compromises, and the ability to balance the advancement of self & the country they serve (although the latter hardly happens). They make the meetings, pour the coffee, and handle every logistical problem possible.
For Gary, that’s being the “body man”; the interpreter, the man who puts names to faces… and takes diarrhea-inducing sneezes aimed at the VP’s face. He’s a bit of a sad case – like many assistants to powerful people, their lives are over-defined by their bosses, as he states when he calls himself ‘her moon.’ There really isn’t a lot of glamour to his job at all: he takes verbal shots from everyone else on the team (including Selina), his services needed but ultimately, left unthanked. And what does he get for his trouble? Some serious bowel distress, and a number of suggestions that without his job, he might be flinging himself off a tall rooftop.
But he gets to be in the closest physical proximity, which he assumes gives him some sort of influence (it’s debatable). That power is really in the hands of Anna, Mike, and Dan, the core of Selina’s PR/political strategy ensemble. Dan is the newest, and as we see in ‘Frozen Yoghurt’, potentially the most dangerous of all of them to her success. We saw in the pilot he’s willing to throw someone under the bus if needed, and his risk-taking and need to feel connected can almost lead to some unforgivable mistakes. Mike and Anna don’t like him, and at times, it’s not clear which person’s job he’s really after in this situation. He says its Mike’s (Director of Communications), but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s got Chief of Staff in his sights.
Along with building a great ensemble – and showing the importance of having a political team with diverse abilities - Veep is doing a great job making satire out of everyday political situations. It only takes a turn of phrase and an accidental handshake before Selina’s two legacy-defining bills become pitted against each other, thanks to some seriously conflicting interests of her various supporters. And before she can even listen to Dan’s weasely plan to fix it, she’s pulled, she’s ushered to the Situation Room during a POTUS health scare in South Africa.
For ten minutes, she gets to feel like the President. She can’t hide her glee at his possible misfortune, and she could care less about the frozen yogurt appearance she’s supposed to make. But when it all turns out to be a byproduct of ‘crossed wires’, she’s not only alienated herself in the eyes of the frozen yogurt owners (who had named a flavor after her), but she’s been harshly reminded of the absence of power being the understudy to the most important man in the world. And in the end, she still ends up with the stomach bug passed to her from the senator’s office (yup, the same one that essentially forces her to choose between her two defining policies).
At times, it gets a bit heavy-handed on a politician’s desire for self-advancement (one smile from the Veep on the president’s misfortune would be enough, not five), but the rest of the episode is so hilarious, it’s easier to forgive some of the overtly-stated themes. The dialogue is top-notch, and every conversation is punctuated by some degree of vulgarity that always hits its mark. A very impressive second episode overall.
- Jonah is the funniest and most pathetic character. As soon as the Veep is in the big chair, he’s pushing people out of the way to pour coffee. Otherwise, he’s sneering down at her from his powerful food selection job in the president’s entourage.
- everything involving the frozen yogurt flavors was hilarious, especially the political interpretations of different flavors by Jonah. Remember, even the silverware is politicized in 2012.
- so many funny phrases and running gags, but my favorite has to be referring to blue-collar people and their activities as ‘normalizing’.
- I wanted the black lady in the wheelchair have some interaction with Selina. She was a damn riot with Leon West, the feared political writer: “We don’t get the Post.”
- Speaking of Leon West, his character was funny, but became overly aggravated and annoying towards the end. In a show like this, ancillary characters are bound to be caricatures, but West’s tendencies were not very endearing for someone trying to maintain access to important information.
- “I just won’t take photographs with hot dogs or anything phallic.”
What did you think of Veep‘s second episode? Feel free to leave your thoughts/comments below!