WashingTelevision: Veep Recap, Episode Four, "Chung"

Selina goes all Biden on “Meet the Press,” and her team reaches new levels of dysfunction.

By: Sophie Gilbert

Jonah, as played by Timothy C. Simons, rocking the sweater vest. Photograph by Bill Gray for HBO.

In a moment of breathtaking synchronicity between life and art, this week's Veep featured the Vice President going on Meet the Press and saying something controversial. Like Joe Biden, Selina is no stranger to foot-in-mouth disease--she drops clangers on such a regular basis, she probably goes to her dentist for pedicures. But unlike Biden, who's been positively restrained since moving into the Naval Observatory, Selina has a team of howler monkeys where her advisers should be ("You wanna play a game?" says Mike at the beginning of last night's episode. "Try working an iPad with your dick.")

This episode, although possibly more lacking in good jokes than its predecessors, gave us three great moments of insight. First, as demonstrated by Dan's nauseating statement that "you have to network to get work," everyone in Washington is constantly hustling for their next promotion, even if it means "going down to go up" (how the writers missed a Monica Lewinsky joke here is beyond me). Second, most voters (and an alarming number of doctors) are vicious racists, as demonstrated in the hospital when Selina's comments about Governor Chung hit the airwaves ("It's the White House, not the Yellow House," screams one patient).

Third, you basically have to be a terrible person to make any inroads on Capitol Hill, as Amy found out when she was obliged to make nice to the disgustingly racist, sexist border-state senators. "If you had bad neighbors who came into your yard every night to crap a buttful of drugs and beans on your flowers, you might think about building a fence," said one. In a rare moment of redemption for Dan, his pointing out that such a fence could only be built using illegal workers was a real treat for the Common Sense Caucus.

There's plenty Veep gets right--the pandering politicians have to do to ingratiate themselves to sports fans, the constant fear of being quoted out of context, the sheer dickishness of most people in power--but my favorite character when it comes to realism is Jonah, who rolls into the office on a Sunday wearing a collared shirt, a tie, and madras shorts (I've literally seen guys wearing this on Pennsylvania Avenue before and wondered what bet they just lost). "I work hard," he told Mike and Amy. "I work fast and loose. And I get hot legs."

Otherwise, Selina's surprisingly cute booty call was probably the highlight of the episode (her boyfriend is played by Andy Buckley of The Office). It also reinforces the extent to which her staffers are basically her children (she even has to tell them to "stop squabbling"), when Gary, Amy, and Mike unsuspectingly became witnesses to their boss's human side. Is it possible that an unmarried single mother with an active dating life would ever become Vice President? Probably not. But presumably this is a subplot that'll be spun in some kind of Selina-humiliating way in the future.

Best lines from last night's episode:

"Who uses withdraw as a f---ing verb beside Catholics and butlers?" (Dan)

"I went to bed at 7 PM on a Saturday night. Even people who are dying of malaria stay up later than that." (Amy)

"My message is simple. My message is clear. Yes." (Selina)

"What did Scott use for research, the f---ing Drudge Report?" (Amy)

"Oh, that's the name of your favorite whorehouse." (Dan, on hearing Mike's favorite band is the Grateful Dead)

Worst line:

"You have the social skills of someone who was raised by wolves." (Amy again. Sorry, but this is the kind of thing normal people say in conversation, not quick-witted characters in an HBO comedy who thrive on their verbal repartee.)

What did you think of last night's episode of Veep? Let us know in the comments.