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Review: ‘Veep’ Gets Nasty Behind Closed Doors

The President got down to business this week — in every way — as a new power couple was born.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus & Tony Hale in "Veep" Season 5

Lacey Terrell/HBO

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: ‘Veep’ Season 5 Episode 6 ‘C***gate’

Immediate Reaction

Hot damn, Selina! We’ve seen you in some tight spots before, but few episodes have captured the brutal efficiency and political savvy of the most powerful person in the free world. Her capacity as a politician may be taken for granted at times, but “Congressional Ball” reminded us all what she’s capable of when pushed to the edge. And what got her there this time? After a stressful night of rallying votes, it was the green shoes, of all things.

Yes, those green shoes. Last season’s awkward conversation between Tom James and Selina came full circle, as the President forced her running mate’s hand after exposing Tom for trying to steal her job. After backing him against the wall, she backed him onto a couch; a decision that may have scarred Gary for life, but had nothing but positive effects otherwise. Spurred on by her physical conquest, Selina whipped votes like a master and managed to end the night where she started — which is a win for the Meyer administration.

Politically Correct Response

Perhaps because she’s a lifetime away from her “last fuckable day,” we can sometimes forget that “Veep” is one of the few shows on TV not only focusing on a woman over the age of 40, but treating her as a sexually active person who flirts, dates and, yes, fucks — or, in other words, she’s treated like an actual human being. Season 5 has taken particular care to highlight the personal side of the sitting president, first introducing a new love interest in Charlie Baird (John Slattery) and now making the mother of all power moves on Tom James (Hugh Laurie). The duo’s back ballroom sexcapade may not be the start of a grand romance — or maybe it is? — but it clearly showed where Selina’s priorities are without distancing her from traditional, immediate interests. Maintaining the presidency is the top priority, and Selina will do whatever — and whomever — it takes to ensure she gets her’s.

Jonah Put-Down of the Week

Sam Richardson in "Veep" Season 5
“The e-mails from Tom Petty’s lawyers
keep getting angrier and angrier.”
– Richard

While Jonad’s uncle labeling him a “sentient enema” certainly stung, it was Richard’s casual reminder that all of the Congressional candidate’s heroes hate him that leaves the most lasting mark.

Simile of the Season

Rhetorical Abuse

“I’m going to have the IRS crawl so far up your husband’s colon,
he’s going to wish the only thing they find is more cancer.”

– Selina

Good God, indeed. Selina’s entire speech to Congresswoman Nickerson — a name oh-so-perfect for this minivan-driving, M&M-loving, Colorado mom — was an eviscerating takedown of a peasant who got in the way of a queen. The President made her feel every word, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ delightful vocal inflections added an impressively nasty emphasis to the monologue. And for her part, Nickerson (played by the wonderful Stephnie Wier) responded with what we were all thinking: an uncontrollable release of disgusted praise.

Power Rankings

Hugh Laurie in "Veep" Season 5
1. Selina
– Selina may not have sewn up the election at the Congressional Ball, but she’s operating at a high efficiency.

2. Tom James
– How Tom and Selina’s private time (i.e. sex) affects his professional life is beyond me right now. Could go either way, but he’s still on the ticket.

3. Catherine
– Catherine and Marjorie are still the best couple on “Veep.”

4. Ben
– “Listen: I’m a high-functioning alcoholic, and you’re a sloppy weekend drunk.”

5. Kent
– A light week for Kent kept him at the same spot.

6. Amy
– Amy relishing Gary’s failure made us sad.

7. Sue
– “Let me get my goodbyes out of the way now.”

8. Dan
– A truly great campaign manager would’ve a) known something was up when Bill Ericcson walked in, and b) never let Richard run the camera.

9. Jonah
– “New Hampshire loves my zingers!” Well, they did.

10. Richard
– “If you were about 10 percent less black i could make you president.”

11. Mike
– Mike’s excitement to leave the White House behind was always too good to be true, and somehow I don’t think golf — his new favorite analogy device — is his real ticket out.

12. Gary
– Typo be damned. You’d make our Hot List, Gary.

Grade: A-

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