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WashingTelevision: Veep, Episode Two, "Frozen Yoghurt"

Selina is just a heartbeat away from the presidency, and a button away from a wardrobe malfunction.

Selina looks crestfallen when her West Wing moment of glory ends. Photography by Bill Gray for HBO.

Has any politician in any era ever showed cleavage as much
as Selina Meyer? We’re not judging–merely curious. It’s hard not
to think of Hillary and her armor-like pantsuits when Selina’s
sporting low-cut dresses and showing off better guns than the
Secret Service. Granted, the entire point of this show is that
we don’t take Selina seriously, so God forbid she’d behave
or dress appropriately (we’d call sexism if it weren’t for the
fact that absolutely everybody on this show is a total buffoon).
But when the writers go to such pains to get other things
right, it seems odd they’d have the veep dress vaguely sluttily
without wanting us to deduce some meaning from it.

That said, no one could accuse a women who tells her
fan-brandishing aide, “I could move more air by farting” of trying to
use her sexuality to get ahead. “I won’t be photographed eating
a hot dog, or any other phallic food,” Selina stated in last
night’s episode, in which she also described a senator as “a
big hog fucker.” The Veep and her staff are stuck in Washington
suffering through a heatwave while the President yuks it up in
South Africa, prompting the staff to decide that she should
go “normalize” with the masses (the kind of strategy babble
that’s too good not to be true).

The writers play on Washington’s cupcake obsession by having
Selina go to a frozen yogurt store on U Street that’s apparently
run by three generations of African-Americans. To which we say,
baloney: Everyone knows frozen yogurt didn’t take off until
the ’90s, and the idea that a family-owned store on U Street
would be hawking overpriced frozen dairy products through the
DC riots, rather than, say, chili dogs, is absurd, even if the
owner does proudly state that he spells it with an “H, right
there in the middle.” And just to be nitpicky, the street the
producers subbed in for U Street looked more like SoHo than
anything else.

Quibbles aside, an oh-so-accurate moment in this
episode is when Selina’s staff tries to decide which frozen yogurt
would be the best for her to order, message-wise. Dan draws up a
chart, with Jamaican rum on one side and vanilla on the other.
Later, when Selina goes rogue in a meeting and promises
something to Senator Doyle that she can’t deliver, the chart becomes
a thinly veiled metaphor for all her staff’s failures. “I want
fucking blueberry with fucking sprinkles on it,” she tells
them, with White House spy Jonah listening in. “But that’s not a
fucking option for me.” It’s hard not to imagine the strategy
meetings at play when President Obama takes Medvedev to Ray’s
Hell Burger. What kind of burger best says, “You’re a powerless
Putin puppet and I’m the leader of the free world, so suck it”?

Last night’s highlight, however, was when Jonah
informs Selina that the President is experiencing chest pains and she
to get to the West Wing as soon as possible. Her face a picture
of barely suppressed glee, she remarks, “I’m . . . so . .
. sorry,” while fireworks go off inside her head. After
sprinting toward a White House meeting room, Selina calls for quiet.
“We come here in togetherness, and in hope,” she says, adding
as an afterthought, “Hope for the swift recovery of the President.”
In other words, as an aide spells out, “Selina is currently the
most powerful woman in the world,” and boy does she know it.

Unfortunately for Selina, the President’s chest pains
turn out to be heartburn, so she goes from West Wing glory to a humdrum
press appearance at a family-owned yogurt store, the
unfortunately named Super Scooper, where all the good flavors have long
since melted and she’s left with plain ol’ vanilla, an audience
of bloggers (“they’re much more relevant,” Mike tells her),
and an unfortunate spontaneous episode of gastric flu that
leaves her unable to uncross her legs, and being bodyslammed into
her limo. “No one’s judging,” Amy says, clambering in after
her. But after the thrill of the most powerful office in the land,
one imagines going all
Bridesmaids in public is something of a letdown.

Best line: A tossup between Mike saying, “Okay, I’ll
get a stepladder,” after Jonah encourages him to blow him, and Senator
Doyle telling Selina it’d be quite something if she could pass a
Senate reform bill through the very body it’s supposed to
reform, “like a man fisting himself.”

Most DC moment: “You are distantly orbiting her,” Gary tells Dan about the Veep. “I’m her moon.”

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