Veep takes a page out of Silicon Valley’s book this week, lampooning the tech industry for its preposterous youth and buoyancy—two traits in short supply back in D.C., where everyone regardless of age is a grizzled old cynic. (“The sheer optimism of this place,” Amy says, “would break me.”) The trip to the Clovis campus makes for striking juxtaposition and plenty of solid gags, although these too-rich-for-their-own-good geeks are starting to feel like easy targets given Silicon Valley, last week’s Parks and Recreation finale (which featured a “Cloud for your Cloud” company named Gryzzl), and Dave Eggers’ most recent novel, The Circle.
That being said, this is funny, spot-on stuff. Clovis’s 26-year-old founder—like Silicon Valley’s protagonist, awkward and in the obligatory zipped hoodie—insists on pronouncing his name (Craig) “Cray-ig.” His “financey Nancy” Melissa tells Amy ominously, “We know all about you,” evoking Google’s frightening data mining practices. The obscenely young employees have a motto that would look right at home on the wall of any Millennial feel-goodery where all the kids get medals for participating: Dare to fail. Selina’s not impressed, pegging the place as “kindergarten for cyber-brats.”
The cyber-brats aren’t especially fond of the Veep, either: a Rupert Grint name-drop gets a louder ovation than Selina’s physical presence, underscoring the youth at play (quite literally, given the ping-pong and Legos). Then again, Selina’s reputation has taken a recent hit courtesy of the young mother of a nine-month-old who says her baby is developing slowly due to nearby fracking. Selina and the mother have a run-in at a campaign event, and Jonah makes a video about the incident that goes viral despite or because of its cartoon crassness.
I guess it’s technically impossible to embody an absence, but Jonah/Ryantology represents the hollow nature of so many political blogs, their decaying integrity and insight, and surging popularity. When his “co-partner” says they don’t have enough facts to run a story about Chung’s unit torturing the enemy in Iraq, Jonah says, “We put it out there, and then something will arrive that backs it up. That’s Journalism 101.” Sadly, I think a lot of today’s media members took that same class.
So it’s nice to see Jonah publicly discredited when the Pentagon releases documents absolving Chung of any guilt w/r/t torture, even if it means another smug Chung press conference (“I have never made political capital from my military record….”) Dan had planted the Chung story in Jonah’s “platinum” brain at a poker game—a Game of Thrones-level ploy sure to cripple Selina’s rival or the thorn in her cyber-side or both. Dan speaks for at least one critic when he carps to Ben over beers, “I’m obviously the best person for the campaign manager job. I’m not saying tell her that, but would somebody fucking tell her that?”
Just, nobody tell Amy that. Convinced she has the campaign manager job in the bag, she turns down what sounds like six figures at Clovis to stick with Selina. “[Selina] values me,” Amy says, moments before the Veep asks Amy to flush her mystifying Clovis “space-toilet” for her. (Third stall! Have fun!) This echoes the final scene of “The Choice,” in which Selina tells Gary how much she appreciates him, then asks him to clear the fruit off the table.
Gary, not coincidentally, is falling apart physically and otherwise. Being a bagman takes its toll on the shoulders, and I suspect the soul. (His persistent whispers in Selina’s ears continue to be met with irritation.) By the end of the season, it appears Amy, Gary, and Dan will all dole out promotion-or-I-walk ultimatums, regardless of Selina’s presidential prospects. Selina’s been sowing those seeds for years by berating anyone within earshot—and the higher her star rises, the less she seems to care about the Veeple who helped her get there.
At one point in “Clovis,” Selina explains that waiting till her thirties to make her millions “kept her grounded.” Saying nothing but speaking volumes, Amy turns to Mike and rolls her eyes.
—“I call that an us-ie.” (Selina, snapping photo with fan)
—“My brain feels like it’s being circumcised.” (Dan, hungover)
—“They have bathrooms here, or do they put their turds in the Cloud?” (Selina)
—“I know you’re walking around like C3PO with a big brass shiny erection…” (Selina, to Kent)
—“You see these brains? You see why I’m pattin’ em? ’Cause they’re made of solid platinum… I think I just had a moneygasm.” (Jonah)
—“Jonah with money? It’s like if Hitler could fly.” (Selina)
Evan Allgood is deputy editor of Trop. He lives in Brooklyn. Follow and maybe later unfollow him on Twitter.