Veep, Season 2, Episode 1: “Midterms”
Written by Will Smith and Armando Iannucci
Directed by Christopher Morris
Airs Sundays at 10pm (ET) on HBO
While viewing politics through a cynical eye is nothing new, the HBO series Veep managed to put an effectively fresh spin on it, building a stable of characters around Vice President Selina Meyer, each of whom brought a different set of incompetences and quirks to the table. While show creator Armando Iannucci is no stranger to depicting the absurdities of politics, there was some concern at the show’s outset of how well his brand of humour would translate to American comic sensibilities, concerns the first season blazed through. This week’s second season premiere proves that the show has not lost a step, as it returns with a hilarious episode that sets up a pursuit of higher stakes while introducing a series of very promising new characters.
This episode takes a very interesting tack by having the governing administration’s power greatly diminished right off the bat. One of the running themes in the show’s first season was how powerless and ineffective Meyer really was in the administration, with her interactions with Congressman Furlong in the season finale highlighting just how little respect she was shown. Despite this, however, Meyer’s ambition kept shining through, as is to be expected from someone who aspired to become President of the United States not too long ago, which makes her push for more importance a natural course of action, particularly with her season one rival Danny Chung being one of the few victories of the night. How her search for more power clashes with the President’s new strategist, as well as what course of action her and her staff, particularly Dan, take to gain and secure her power, promise to be interesting threads to follow as the season progresses.
Overall, this is a hilarious episode, and a fine return for the show. The roster of supporting actors the show has added between seasons is particularly impressive, as Gary Cole, Kevin Dunn, Kumail Nanjiani, and Jessica St. Clair all show up this episode, with the possibility of repeat appearances open for all their characters. It was great to see the White House after a season that took place largely at the Vice President’s office. It was also good to get a glimpse at the personal lives of Amy and Gary, and hopefully the show continues to delve into the lives of these characters outside of their professional engagements. The regular characters, particularly Gary, Jonah, and Sue, remain as hilarious as ever, and how Meyer’s search for more concrete power goes, and how the new and recurring characters factor into it, is worth tuning in for next week.
– Deepayan Sengupta