A Look at Veep- Season 3, Episode 2: “The Choice”

Who doesn’t love controversy?

Veep mixes it up with the wonderful subject of abortion. In addition to wanting to be the first to make or clarify a statement, Veep, through its great humor, shows just how complex it is to nail down a position on this topic, even more so when you’re a politician who has presidential ambitions.

The episode begins with Gary receiving a call from honeymoon Mike, who lets him know that Wendy got the heads up that the President’s bodyguard is quitting. He teases that Gary could fill that slot, but Gary is completely loyal to Selina, right?

The Choice- Meyer Campaign Office

Speaking of Meyer, we cut to what’s supposed to be the Meyer Campaign Office in Maryland, though Amy clarifies that this building doesn’t exist and no one should know that it exists. Looks pretty bland, to be honest, but it will do for now. Richard, despite being left in Iowa, has somehow made it to the area along with Kelly, played by Dana Powell, who will be working on the campaign as a photographer. Hopefully they’ll be more useful than the phone, which doesn’t even work. Splendid.

The team is preparing to tag along with a night patrol for some pre-campaign campaigning. Dan offers to stay behind, but Selina won’t have any of that. Gary suggests that Selina just come out and say that she’s running for President, but it would look bad if she made this announcement while the sitting President was still in office.

The Choice- Veep team at Baltimore Harbor

So at the Baltimore Harbor, we learn that Dan doesn’t do boats that well. That could be a problem, as the group learns that a vessel carrying suspicious cargo has been intercepted.

The Choice- Jonah visits Mike

Mike gets an unexpected visit from Jonah, who already knows that the Veep team has a real estate office. However, he’s there because he’s starting a consulting firm and wants Mike on board for what he refers to as “Ryantology.” A D.C. insider becomes a D.C. outlaw.

Back on the water, the team finds the perp, but Selina is unable to make it over to him for a quick photo. Oh, and turns out he even voted for Selina. How nice of him. But Amy alerts everyone to a sudden announcement from the President: he’s suddenly pro-life after so much time being pro-choice.

The Choice- Team Veep discusses POTUS' and Selina's abortion stances

When the team returns to the impromptu campaign office, very late into the night, Selina talks with Ben, who had no idea that the President would make such a big announcement. Selina knows, however: the President is trying to screw with her, and on such a controversial issue, she has to tread lightly. The team decides to bring in some special interest groups, with pro-choice in the morning and pro-life in the afternoon to prevent any sort of philosophical scuffles.

Mike, also in on the call, tells Selina that the media are awaiting her stance. She can’t identify as a woman because men hate that, and women who hate women hate that. Gary brings up that Selina does mention abortion in her autobiography, and she did, but her explanation is vague and such political fodder that anyone would say without wanting to offend any side, so that’s no good. If she goes with that, she’ll appear weak. But she better come up with a position fast, as Kent has booked her for a 7 a.m. appearance on Good Morning America. Canceling the appearance would make Selina look bad, so she sticks with it, even though it sucks.

The Choice- Jonah's first video blog

Jonah’s made his way from Mike’s home to his own apartment, where he does a video blog about trashing old media. He plans to do more updating than he does dating, which is apparently a lot. Funny, Jonah. Very funny.

The Choice- Defining Selina's stance on abortion

With the Veep and company, they’re still trying to come up with a defined position on abortion that won’t offend anyone. Dan, however, has been pushing for Selina to push one way or the other. Selina realizes that she’ll screw over constituents whichever way she leans: if she’s pro-life, she’ll be a traitor to her sex. If she’s pro-choice, she’s a traitor to the President. The key is to make abortion safe and accessible for vulnerable women.

Maddox, meanwhile, issues an ambiguous statement: science may have given us the map, but we are lost without morality’s compass. How very vague, indeed.

The Choice- Dan explodes

While everyone else isn’t convinced, Dan acknowledges that Maddox said something rather than nothing at all. He goes on a long winded rant about picking a number for the cutoff number of weeks, which no one there has done so far. When he’s done ranting, he apologizes for exploding, and Selina accepts it while also retaining the right to fire him.

The Choice- Cardinal Branzini

She sends him home just as Cardinal Branzini, played by Michael Salconi, arrives. Gotta appeal to the Catholics, after all. Amy delegates tasks: Gary is to bring in Rachel Hordenthal, from Planned Parenthood, Mike will steer in Michael Cunningham, who is pro-life and should stay away from Hordenthal, and Sue will help Kent finish polling.

The Choice- Gary arrives with Rachel of Planned Parenthood

Gary brings in Hordenthal, played by Meredith Holzman, but Selina is still speaking with the Cardinal, so he tries to distract her by taking her to a break room. Next up after the Cardinal is the ACCDP, who Mike has on the phone. What does ACCDP stand for and what’s their stance? Mike doesn’t know. But one thing’s for sure: ACCDP’s stance has not changed. So Mike leaves the room to bring in Cunningham, played by Bob Cusack…

The Choice- Awkward confrontation between pro-choice and pro-life

…just as Gary returns with Hordenthal. Of course, the two groups run into each other and Amy ends up picking Cunningham to come in first. A very insulted Hordenthal storms off, but not before telling Gary that he should quit the job and find something he’s halfway decent at.

At least Jonah gets a bit of good news. I mean, the Huffington Post cancels on him, but MSNBC wants him on at 7 a.m.

When the dust at Selina’s office has settled, Mike comes in with an early copy of Danny Chung’s abortion statement, 10 minutes before he planned to announce. Mike didn’t actually read Chung’s stance, he just printed it out. How thoughtful. But Chung believes that a 22-week cutoff is appropriate. It turns out that no politician in the history of anything has ever suggested a 22-week cutoff. Selina realizes that Dan may have been right when he said to just pick a stance and go with it. Amy suggests going with the same number, but Mike reminds everyone that the press will just believe that Selina copied Danny. They’ll also call her names like Copycat Selina, Me Too Meyer and Shit for Brains. Maybe not that last one, but it’s on the list somewhere.

The Choice- Kent's survey data

Kent and Sue return with the survey data: turns out that a whole lot of Americans just flat out don’t know their position on abortion.

How about that?

So Amy just says that Selina should just issue a version of what her book said, just different from what Dan wrote.

When Selina appears on Good Morning America, she states her vague and generalized position, all while pointing out that she is, in fact, a woman.

The Choice- Jonah on MSNBC

Oh, and Dan threatened to break Jonah’s legs if he said anything about Selina’s abortion position on MSNBC. The interview goes as well as you’d expect.

So Selina is put between a rock and a woman’s right to choose. Much like last week, this episode worked due to the biting satire on the political process of picking a side on a controversial issue. It showed the complexities of trying to narrow down a specific viewpoint without offending other potential voters. With the President changing his position from pro-choice to pro-life and getting praise and hate for it, we also see how common it is to flip-flop from one side to another and still act like you’ve come out on top. But we wouldn’t know anything about that Romney, Obama, Bush Jr., and probably a slew of former American presidents and presidential candidates.

From the photo-ops to staged promos in order to make candidates look good at the right time, Veep skewers candidates who make supposedly random appearances at specific locales for a quick photo shoot and are out in a few minutes.

Paul Ryan Photo-Op

I love that the writers are poking fun at this, particularly given all the fuss about staged photo-ops, the Paul Ryan one being the most recent that pops in my head.

The Choice- Selina on Good Morning America

Not to mention all the problems that come into play once all the starry-eyed dreams of becoming President fade away when you realize you have no campaign, no infrastructure, no money or even a competent staff, as is the case with Selina. Granted, she and her team are inept regardless, which is part of what makes them so much fun to watch, but when you put these personalities together toward the goal of making Selina, there are bound to be screw-ups, and they are very funny.

The Choice- Maddox on his Christianity

Abortion will probably always be a touchy subject for Americans despite so many not having any real opinion on it. And politicians have it even harder when trying to appeal to us. As such, like the potential candidates in Veep, their stances are vague and filled with such typical political jargon that doesn’t even help define a stance. When one of Maddox’s men tells him not to base his stance on his Christianity, but to be ambiguous, we see how the pro-life camp has to walk a thin tightrope to define their stance without contradicting their faith.

I like how layered this episode managed to be in the span of half-an-hour. Through Selina, we see how much harder it is for women to take an abortion stance that will win them voters, but not alienate others. There’s a lot of truth to what Meyer said about female politicians having a much more difficult challenge because they could end up offending their gender. I give a lot of kudos to Selina, though, for not just picking a side for the hell of it, which could go against her personal beliefs. Despite being inept every now and then, Selina is a driven politician. She knows what she wants, but she’s unable to get it because almost every single thing that could go wrong for does go wrong. But I did like the honesty in her tone when she suggested that the government just get “out of my fucking snatch.”

The Choice- Dan threatens Jonah

As far as the others go, Jonah is just as stuck now that he’s not at the White House anymore. He must think he’s hot stuff if the highlight of his day is getting free water bottles when a car from MSNBC picks him up for his interview. Heck, show up to any sort of social gathering and you’re sure to find more than just free water bottles up for grabs. Whether he’ll keep buckling under pressure from Dan remains to be seen.

The Choice- Dan after exploding

After all, Dan is unhinging and could be on the way out the door as a result of his long-winded rant. I get the point of what Dan is saying: pick a position and stick with it. But in a politically charged environment, nothing is ever that simple. And even more so when it involves abortion. His anger seems partially based on the fact that Selina still hasn’t decided on a campaign manager, and given Dan’s outburst, I wonder if he’s even still in contention. And if he’s going to go around threatening Jonah, which isn’t exactly undeserved, that won’t make him look good since he’ll still be associated with Selina’s office. He didn’t have any snarky humor to help balance out being on edge, but it was funny how he couldn’t even handle the thought of being on a boat without wanting to hurl.

The Choice- Snarky Gary

Also, a snarky, sarcastic Gary is one that I like a lot and would like to see more of, even if he’s back to running around and having to clean up messes. At least Selina, despite everything that’s going on, very much appreciates all he does.

By the end of “The Choice,” Selina had a vaguely defined and ambiguous stance of or relating to the subject of a woman’s decision to make the choice of valuing life and having a say in the matter at the same time, but at different points. Sounds kind of vague. It poked fun at politicians and their inability to just pick a stance, but also the challenges in staying committed to your point of view when you want to run for the White House.

Just be sure you’re both pro-choice and pro-life at the same time and you’ll be fine.

 

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