As Veep wraps up its run at a time where our contemporary political realities have long surpassed any reasonable semblance of parody, it’s become rather important that Veep at least try and commentate on all of that craziness through its biting, no-punch-pulling lens. Under Armando Iannucci (and during the transitional David Mandel years), this was a show about worthless, lackadaisical beaurocrats running out the clock on a pointless political stepping stone, either on their way to greener pastures or serving penance for past slights. But as it eventually became clear that Selina Meyer was meant for greater things, the show slowly transformed itself, all the while getting more and more ruthless and more and more cynical. Now in its final form, it’s only fitting that Veep embraces the insanity of the current political landscape and translate the current popular versions of things such as white nationalism and misogyny through its own lens of commentary.
The result of that so far this season has mostly bore fruit through the Jonah storyline, as Timothy Simons has long proven to be this show’s ultimate punching bag. Jonah Ryan is stupid, rude, bigoted, ignorant and incompetent, which makes him the perfect poster boy for both this show and its translation of the political landscape, leading to some excellent humour over the course of the last three episodes. But in a surprise twist, by the end of this week’s episode, it’s Selina embracing, at least in part, that mantra, as she breaks down in a debate fumble of her own making and turns it into a resurgent moment as she tells an African-American candidate who can’t stop using her identity as a crutch to “man up,” as she did all the years she had to quietly endure misogyny in order to reach her current status. The people (which, on Veep, share social status with the likes of Jonah Ryan) eat it up and she winds up winning the debate and sinking her political opponents, after the floundering she had to endure over the course of the first two episodes.
It’s an interesting stance for this show to take, tacitly admitting that these steps back are tried and true political maneuvers. Selina is and always has been selfish, her entire existence hinging on the idea that she’s paid her dues and waited her turn to be president, that she’s earned and deserves a run as president. But she’s also always been a bleeding-heart progressive, so for her to quote-unquote turn to the dark side and so easily get a win is as biting a stance for this show to take as anything else it’s ever done. It’s early in the season, and “Pledge” is an admittedly transitional episode that aimed to get Selina from points A and B to C, but I wonder if this is something the show might stick to en route to whatever endgame they have in mind.
But even as a transitional episode, this was as hilarious as the show has been this year, with plenty of material for Selina (I loved her funeral blackball list and kind of wished they mined it for a few more jokes), a great Jonah subplot with a lot of visual humour (including several unfortunate press pics of him at the fair, him eating two different-sized corndogs, and debating a wizard), Richard succeeding a dog as the mayor of an Iowan town, and the perfect setup for next week as the episode ends with Amy getting a call from Teddy asking her to become Jonah’s campaign manager, a job she enthusiastically (and presumably ironically) accepts, likely in order to fuck with Jonah.
And speaking of Amy, she had what’s likely to stand as the most brutal piece of dialog of the season, so without further adieu, let’s get to this week’s best lines from “Pledge”!
Brutal Takedown of the week: Listen, I have shit to do, I can’t copy down every single line of dialog from this show. But I couldn’t help but do it for this epic takedown from Amy, trying to enter an abortion clinic in Iowa facing down a bunch of protesters. I pretty much can’t think of a better way to react in that situation, and from now on this should be the go-to in the abortion debate
You want me to think about the children, you hog fingering fucks? Well I did I think about this, and I cried and, yeah suck my cock, I prayed a little. And here I am! So you can back the fuck off, you hypocritical cunts, before i show up to the piss puddle that is your house and protest your husband wacking it to your daughter’s seventh grade yearbook. That sign’s misspelt.
- Selina: “It sounds like Dr. Seuss fucked Maya Angelou in the yasmatazz and then filled her all up with snoozeliscuzz.”
- Selina: “Last thing I need is my picture being taken eating dick-shaped food. I’d rather eat a food-shaped dick.”
- Richard: “My uncle was a shop steward for the 7-4. Asbestos killed him. Asbestor was the name of their pit bull.”
- Jonah: “I’m Jonah Ryan and I wanna suck this message’s hot clam.”
- Teddy/Jonah: “We focus tested the ad and most people are uncomfortable watching a white man kick a black woman in the vagina.” “Well I don’t see vagina colour.”
- Richard: “On the plus column the undecard debate will be first, which means we’ll have no problem getting out of the parking lot. Oh no, that’s bad news too, it’s stacked parking.”
- Teddy/Jonah: “You can’t say retarded in front of a reporter.” “Why, was he retarded?”
- Mike: “Ever since i got it they stopped calling me old guy. Now it’s hat guy.” “It’s fat guy.”
- Selina: “Look at you! You got chocolate all over your face like a child, but you’re an adult!”
- Dan’s harrowing abortion knowledge: “Is that the Berkeley VC10? Cause that’s the Shelby Cobra GT of vag vacs!”
- Selina: “What’s up with the Clubfoot Cuntessa?”
- Richard: “Novelty mayors are Iowa’s top source of tourism. After tornado chasing, and coming into town to buy Sudafed.”
- Teddy: “You have to be more PC than a clit ring made out of wheatgrass.”
- Selina: “I want you to add the Dalai Lama to this list, because i’m going to be the only stiff at my funeral.”
- Selina: “And this must be Mrs. Ryan. Or do you go by your maiden name, Mrs. Ryan?”
- Selina/Richard: “But don’t you have to be a dog [to be the mayor]?” “Legally, yes, but it’s unenforceable.”
- Kent/Selina: “Ma’am, that’s your funeral blackball list.” “And all of you are on it!”