Now on Blu-ray: The Hilarious Season 5 of ‘Veep’

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Veep Season 5

People like to think that the politicians that oversee their government are in complete control. Even if it’s in service of evil, people find comfort in the fantasy that their politicians are straight out of House of Cards, scheming and thinking three moves ahead of their opponents in order to achieve a political goal. That mindset is a key reason that crazy conspiracy theories exist. What if that’s simply a fantasy? What if those in charge are just fallible humans scrambling to keep their heads above water? That’s the view of politics that I subscribe to and that’s the view of Veep, the HBO comedy from creator Armando Iannucci. Though Iannucci left the show following its fourth season, Veep didn’t lose a step in its fifth season with David Mandel taking over showrunner duties. Veep is still as profane and absurd as ever and one of the best comedies on television.

Over the previous seasons Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) has ascended from the vice presidency to the Oval Office. The fourth season has Meyer in a struggle to win reelection and the season ended on a cliffhanger as the Electoral College resulted in a tie. With this looming cloud of uncertainty over her presidency, Selina Meyer must still try to maintain the appearance of a functioning administration while attempting to pass legislation and make deals that will secure her historical legacy aside from being the first woman president who ascended into office because her predecessor resigned.

The people who surround President Selina Meyer are part of the reason that Veep is consistently among the funniest shows on television. Season 5 has a variety of subplots surrounding her entourage of varying competence. Press Secretary Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh) is overwhelmed by his plans to adopt a child, with an international incident started by his boss halting Chinese baby adoptions and leading him to a surrogate who quickly finds herself carrying twins. The sleazy and self-interested Dan Egan (Reid Scott) tries to angle himself into a media position before helping the president and her trusted assistant Amy Scott (Anna Chlumsky) oversee the legal battle over a recount in Nevada. Political veterans Kent Davidson (Gary Cole) and Ben Cafferty (Kevin Dunn) analyze the fallout from political decisions and give their profane suggestions to the Commander-in-Chief. Perhaps the best subplot of Season 5 revolves around the congressional campaign of staffer Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons) as he attempts to become New Hampshire’s latest member of the House of Representatives with a number of unforced errors along the way.

While all these pieces in the president’s orbit are scrambling around, Selina Meyer is still trying to court the votes to win the presidency in the House of Representative. That, however, is being sidetracked by her vice presidential candidate Senator Tom James (Hugh Laurie), who can win the presidency in the Senate if the House is unable to select a winner. This results in a heated confrontation between Meyer and James, one that takes a decidedly unexpected turn that is witnessed by Selina’s bagman Gary Walsh (Tony Hale).

And yet throughout all this chaos in her orbit, Selina Meyer still has time to ignore her daughter Catherine (Sarah Sutherland), who goes through quite an emotional journey during Season 5. At first, Catherine is devastated at the loss of her grandmother, something that turns out to be politically advantageous for her mother in some darkly comedic ways. Then Catherine is able to soothe her broken heart by finding love with Marjorie (Clea DuVall), who is the Secret Service stand-in for her mother. That also leads to some odd comedic misunderstandings that could derail diplomacy with the Chinese government. Catherine’s storyline culminates in the penultimate episode of the season “Kissing Your Sister,” where we get to view the documentary that Catherine has been working on throughout the season. And yet as hard as she tries Catherine can’t get her mother to abandon her self-absorbed nature.

Having seen each episode of Season 5 of Veep on its initial run I can say that the series is entirely rewatchable. Each episode is packed with jokes and sometimes you can miss some of the pointed barbs that these characters exchange with one another. The dialogue of Veep is weaponized profanity, brutal insults that defy decency but always elicit laughs. The situations that show crafts are also a bit too realistic. One episode features Selina Meyer direct messaging her new boyfriend Charlie Baird (John Slattery) but accidentally tweeting to the public. This creates an international incident and leaves the West Wing scrambling to craft a response. The president tweeting creating public relations problems? Unheard of.

On the Blu-ray for Season 5 of Veep are deleted scenes, which more often than not are just improvised variations on what made the final cut. It highlights the robust talent of the cast as they just wing some of the most astounding insults and with a straight face. There’s also audio commentary on a select few episodes that provide a bit of insight into the creative process in bringing this raucous comedy to the screen, as well as the challenges new showrunner David Mandel faced in taking over for the legendary Armando Iannucci.

Veep returns for its sixth season this Sunday but that leaves you plenty of time to get reacquainted with Selina Meyer and bumbling crew of political operatives. Right now when politics seem to be filled with more despair than usual, laughing an incompetent president without fearing real world consequences offers a bit of catharsis. No matter your thoughts on the current political landscape, Veep is still probably the most realistic show in portraying American politics and one of the funniest shows on television.

Veep Season 5
  • Overall Score
5

Summary

One of the funniest shows on television, Season 5 of Veep continues the series’ tradition of skewering American politics with weaponized profanity and a unique insight into the flawed figures behind the political scenes.

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