A Look at Veep- Season 6 Premiere: “Omaha”

Let’s see how Selina Meyer adjusts to civilian life.

Season Five of Veep ended on a surprise note for me.  Instead of Selina ending up back in the Vice President’s seat she loathed so much, she ended up cast out of Washington altogether while Laura Montez became the first elected female President of the United States.  A stinging blow to someone who had spent the bulk of her short presidency fighting off scandals and messes both in and out of her team.

It presented an interesting scenario: where does Selina Meyer go from here?  Would she avoid politics altogether going forward or maybe give it another shot in a few years? Would it be national or at the local level?

Truth be told, the idea of Selina leaving Washington and being removed from politics was something I thought could work as a series finale, but one year later, here we are as we rejoin Selina Meyer and see what’s been up to since that fateful defeat.

The season begins with a time jump.  One year has passed since the election results and we start with an interview on CBS This Morning.  The host, Dan Egan, interviews former President Selina Meyer, who outlines her journey through the presidency and eventual loss, but she’s reacquainted herself with…Selina Meyer, and she likes her a lot.  Naturally.

It’s Selina’s first public appearance since the Senate vote, but she has more of herself to give.  In fact, she wants to help future scholars reckon with the Meyer years in America’s great tapestry of history.

Okay, let’s check on  some of Team Selina for a bit: Amy is working as a campaign manager for her now fiance, Buddy, in order to get him elected the next governor of Nevada.  And because this is Amy, her word usage of course goes over well for the staff.

Ben also found work: he’s at Uber, but it’s a rocky start.  He doesn’t have a slideshow, nay, deck, prepared, but he does believe the company needs the backing of Congressman Jarvis.  Otherwise, he says, they don’t stand a Chimanan’s chance.  Okay, so at Uber, the word ‘Chinaman’ isn’t kosher, even though all of Ben’s wife is Oriental.  His words, not mine.

Back to the interview, Dan brings up some flack Selina has received for an 11th hour pardon of billionaire and private prison magnate Sherman Tanz, who is under indictment of tax evasion and bribery charges.  Selina’s defense is that she’s pardoned many nonviolent drug offenders, some of whom can’t read.

And this is why she’s using this opportunity to announce her organization: the Meyer Fund for Adult Literacy…and AIDS.  A worthwhile cause indeed, I guess.

On the House floor to a nonexistent audience, Congressman Jonah Ryan, now bald, rails against the Healthy School Lunch Act.  Hell, with lunches like the ones kids eat nowadays, he thinks that it’s no wonder there are school shootings.  When he was young, the only green bean he ate was a jelly bean, and he will fight against green beans the same way he fought against his testicular cancer.  You remember that, right?

Dan informs Selina that President Laura Montez won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in Tibet.  Selina didn’t see the speech, though, since she was out of the country.  Dan then asks the million dollar question: will she run again in three years?  Selina has no plans at this time.  She’s busy with adult literacy.  And AIDS.

With the interview done, Dan throws it back to host Jane McCabe, played by Margaret Colin.  Dan’s been filling in as Jane’s co-host, and he considers her a gash and a half. Gary and Richard shower Selina with praise, though Selina is less than enthused about celebrating the one year anniversary of the election vote.  To her, it’s like celebrating her frat house gang rape, minus the candlelight vigil.

Outside, as Richard goes through Selina’s upcoming interviews, Selina meets up with Andrew, who didn’t see the interview, but everyone’s apparently talking about how gorgeous Selina looked.  He won’t be joining her at the office, as he’s having lunch with a potential foreign donor for the Meyer fund.  Also, President Montez is in town to address the U.N. Should be fun.

Back at Congress, Furlong confronts Jonah about the school lunch bills and how Americans don’t care what poor kids eat.  Kent, disagrees, as polling has shown that better tasting school lunches poll well.  Kent, it turns out, is working for Jonah, and that makes me very sad.

Selina arrives at her South Bronx office and learns that she’ll be receiving an award from The National Association for Transgender People.  Whose balls did Selina have to fondle to get that, I wonder.  Also, Selina’s editor called about the status of her book, as she’s six months behind.

In a line I love, Selina compares being an ex-president to a man’s nipple: people go right by it just to jerk off a dick.  Either way, Selina is all about the speaking engagements and tells Richard to call Mutual of Omaha.  She’ll only fly private.

In enters Marjorie, who is running the Meyer Fund and has a bad habit of calling Selina ‘Mom’ while at the office.  Marjorie’s just surprised that Mom over here decided to give her AIDS.  Catherine arrives to take Marjorie to lunch, but she congratulates her mother for getting out in public again…and gives Selina her check for the month.  However, Selina’s cramped staff wants to be in Midtown, and that could require a bit more money.

Catherine’s fine with talking about money…but that involves Selina talking to Marjorie. The check itself is worth a whopping $79,000, which isn’t enough for modest Selina Meyer.

Back at CBS, while Jane rages over her salad, the producer, Stevie, played by Paul Scheer, tells Dan that the network is going to name him Jane’s permanent co-host on Friday, and that’s important because Jane got rid of her previous three co-hosts and probably wrecked their careers.

As such, Dan has an idea to get himself out of this, thanks to his close connection to this charming New Hampshire Congressman by the name of Jonah Ryan.

As far as her presidential portrait is concerned, Selina wants the artist who painted Ambassador Stone’s wife.  Richard goes through a few speaking engagement offers, but Selina is apparently getting half of what Hughes is offered.  And as the first female President of the United States, Selina will not work for less than 87 cents on the dollar.

Also, Omaha will not offer Selina a private jet or cover Andrew’s fee.  Andrew enters and informs Selina that some folks in Abu Dhabi are looking to import sand, but Selina is focused on Omaha and nothing else.

Over in Nevada, Amy informs Buddy that there’s a video floating around of a woman who said she did cocaine with the governor’s wife while in university, the same wife who went to high school with Buddy.  Amy being Amy, she wants to go on the attack with a…well, attack ad, but Buddy puts his foot down and tells Amy that the campaign won’t use that.

That night, Gary and Selina play backgammon and eat Chinese when Richard arrives and tells her that Walter Pallenberg’s private jet for Omaha is unavailable because it’s being used for a fuck-tour of South America.  How exotic.

When Marjories, Selina tells Marjorie that she wants to add something to the fund in order to balance out the AIDS.  Marjorie tells Mom that she’ll start putting together a list.  Turns out that Selina isn’t even a fan of being called ‘Mom’ at home.  Go figure.

At long last, Selina turns her attention to her book and its very first sentence.  She and Gary jump into the portion on the Middle East trip with Leon, but they need more information, so they call Mike, who has his hands full and is literally tied up with his children.  However, he has the diary that he kept as Press Secretary- a diary containing information that Selina needs.  And this doesn’t seem to be the first call Mike’s received.

With this in mind, he and Wendy suggest that if Selina is going to keep using him for information, the least she can do is pay him.  Selina doesn’t give a shit about that either way, so at least Mike gets to work again.

Next day, Richard informs Selina that there are news stories about the Tanz pardon.  Slow news day indeed, keeping in mind that Montez just addressed the U.N.  Good news is that Selina has also received a large donation from Tanz, but she doesn’t want that in the fund.

Mike enters- Gary actually whispers who Mike is to Selina- with a busted lip and the diary, but learns that Selina will pay him only when the book is finished, however long that will take.  Same for travel reimbursement.  If there’s any good news out of this, Selina manages to secure Marty Leonhardt’s G5 for Omaha.

Gary reminds Selina that based on her last visit, she’s not the biggest fan of Omaha, so Selina reveals some top-secret information: she’s going there because Omaha is a 20 minute drive to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where they have the annual Madison Monroe dinner.  And you have to go there if you plan on running for President again.  Huh?

So yeah, Selina is going to run for President.  Again.  Gary is aghast, but he doesn’t let that show on his face or in his voice.  Instead, he tells Selina that she is ready for this. Selina will announce this to the rest of the family tonight, and if there are any objections, she won’t run.  She at least has Gary’s vote, even though she doesn’t need it.

At CBS, Dan walks in on Jonah shaving.  Jonah did have cancer and went through chemotherapy, sure, but people felt sorry for him and he even got some pity handjobs out of it, so he kept up the act.  You can call this despicable, but this is Veep, so it’s right in line.

Dan doesn’t get to draw on Jonah’s bald head, so when the interview begins, he gleefully puns his way about Jonah’s close shave with cancer.  Jonah lashes out, saying that it’s not nice to make fun of someone because they look like a penis.  Now those are Jonah’s words, not Dan’s.  He then storms off the set.  Despite this trainwreck, Stevie informs Dan this kind of stuff is golden for the network.  Looks like Dan will be at CBS for awhile.

That evening, Selina gathers the family to announce that she’s going to run for President again.  Catherine objects and lets out that weird-ass cry again, and it turns out that no one agrees.  Even still, Selina doesn’t care because she didn’t expect any objections.  This was just a test and everyone failed.

In the middle of awkward lovemaking, Buddy wants Amy to talk dirty to him like livid she gets at work.  But Amy isn’t exactly good at that and she gets so invested in talking about work that Buddy stops.  Amy takes this opportunity to get back to work.  Whether Buddy can finish is up to him since Amy’s not his mother.  Fair enough.

Ben arrives at Selina’s, where Selina apologizes for Ben losing his job at Uber.  Well, shit, that was fast.  She invites Ben to join her in Omaha, and he’s fully aware of what Selina intends to do.  Hypothetically, he doesn’t believe she should run for President, as she doesn’t have party or donor support.  Plus, no one wants to see a Meyer comeback.

More to the point, he doesn’t want to see Selina lose again.  And against his best judgment, he’s about to join Kent in working for Jonah.  Of course, Selina was speaking hypothetically.  Selina really wanted to see if Ben wanted to join her board.  For that, Ben’s on board.

As the episode comes to a close, Danny officially joins Jane McCabe as her new co-host while Gary and Selina board a not private jet to Omaha.  However, Gary will need to gate-check his bag, so he’s unable to provide Selina with some hand sanitizer.

Well, at least Selina isn’t flying United.

Veep has spent so much of its time satirizing politics that it’s often difficult to tell what’s fiction and what’s reality.  That is no more evident than now with the surprise results of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election and the reality of Donald Trump becoming the next President of the United States.  And given how often the administration makes headlines for a gaffe here or there, it’d be all too easy for Veep to continue imitating reality.

It does, but the show doesn’t take the easy route of holding up a cracked mirror to the Trump administration specifically.  Instead, it’s back to business for Selina Meyer and company minus Sue as we see how the team has adjusted ever since Doyle delivered the tie-breaking vote that handed the presidency to Laura Montez.

Politics continues to be as unpredictable as it has been on Veep, and that’s very evident with how Selina has moved on since the loss that forced her out of Washington.  Despite this loss, it hasn’t humbled Selina at all.  And why would it?  This is Selina Meyer we’re talking about and even though she’s not in politics, we see that she still wants to be in the public spotlight…sort of for the right reasons.

In Veep fashion, the media focuses on her pardoning a criminal even though she just made a major announcement regarding her fund for literacy and AIDS.  Even when trying to do a good thing, everyone is focused on the negative.  Not to say that ex-President Meyer has turned into a humanitarian, because she’s still got a political agenda to get herself back on the map.

And to be fair, not like Selina would keep herself out of the political spotlight for long. Think about it: she puts more time and stock into into this Omaha trip while she hasn’t written a single line in her book.  And while literacy is an admirable effort for Selina, adding AIDS to her fund is just the cherry on top that the public will love.

Before, Selina could tear apart her entire team, but now that they’re all scattered, she falls back on the praise of both Gary and Richard.  Side-note, last I checked, Richard worked for Jonah at the end of last season, but maybe Selina realized he’s of more use to her or he chose this avenue of his own volition.

In addition to Gary and Richard, she’s sucking up Catherine’s paychecks like a weekly allowance, but even then, it’s not enough.  See, I’m left wondering if this money is less to make Selina’s staff happy and more to fund her war chest for an re-election campaign. But this at least puts Catherine in some position of authority over her mother, until she ends up a blubbering mess at Selina’s announcement.

But sticking with Catherine for a moment, I do like the progression of her relationship with Marjorie and admire the little details like Marjorie calling Selina ‘Mom’ or how she can pretty much double as security detail since it doesn’t look like Selina got that lifetime Secret Service that I thought most Presidents, past and present, received.

Even though Selina’s eying another run, I wouldn’t mind spending more of her winging it as an ex-President.  We see how unhappy she is with her office, the news still attacking her, and Montez receiving all the glory that she craved as the nation’s first elected female President.

So what option is there but for her to try and get back into politics?  And not even starting small with a state or local office and work her way back up the ladder.  No, Selina is going all in on another Presidential run and it’s maddening.  It’s ambitious, yet insane.

Well, maybe in the year between last year’s finale and now, Selina did do some soul searching and arrived at this conclusion.  I’m grasping at straws, but don’t think there’s a way to rationalize this, and I’m not sure Selina has an explanation, either.

Regardless, she’s not getting any backing from her team and I’m left wondering how Gary didn’t explode from pure shock when Selina let him in on her plan.  Tony Hale continues to shine as Selina’s ever present bag man, but as “East Wing” and “Inauguration,” just to pick two, have shown us, is that he has just as much range for more dramatic moments. And much of Veep’s comedy comes as much from the tragedy as it does the humor.

But this is Gary.  He’s not going to turn on Selina, despite her making a decision that could set her up for failure.  And this is why I enjoy the fact that everyone on Selina’s team doesn’t kiss her ass or mince words.  Ben might as well have doused Selina in icy water when he brought her back to Earth and laid out flat that she didn’t have support and no one wanted to see a Meyer comeback.

And while Dreyfus is great as always as Selina, the look on her face when Ben didn’t immediately jump on board with her plan showed just how much of a struggle it’s going to be for her to convince others, and maybe even herself, that another run at the White House is a good idea.  But hey, at least she’s being hypothetical.

On that note, the rest of the episode gives us bits and pieces of what most of the other players have been doing.  To my surprise, Dan is doing quite well for himself at CBS. Which, by the way, still has to be better than possibly ending up at CVS.  But after seeing what his co-host is capable of, Dan doesn’t want this position, even if turns out he has a knack for it.

But he’ll take any opportunity to mock Jonah, and it’s fun to watch Jonah fumble as a Congressman, not to mention how he’s using his baldness as a way to get pity sex.  Awful, but not outside of Jonah’s sphere of terrible ideas.  And I’m certain that his meltdown, coupled with Dan prodding him, could end up as a highlight of the season.

While still fun to watch, Amy’s storyline right now feels the most isolated. She still gets to bark orders and be the same asshole we’ve known her for prior, but she’s too focused on work that I wonder how she and Buddy even made it to the engagement phase of their relationship.  A relationship that I don’t see lasting that long, given Amy’s obsession with work and attitude towards Buddy’s staff.

Plus, last time Amy served as a campaign manager, her meltdown is what got her ejected. Given her disdain for Nevada, who knows how long it’ll be before she potentially pops off again?

And while I’m still baffled why Kent would just settle for Jonah, at least Mike gets a bit of happiness by going back to work of all things.  It’s a sharp contrast compared to how weary he often looked when serving as Press Secretary.  We don’t see Sue at all, but we know at the end of last season that she remained at the White House, so Montez must see some value in her.  Hey, she actually does do her job.

“Omaha” is a pretty good start for the season and return for Veep.  While some of the dialogue is exposition-heavy, there are still plenty of great lines and sharp insults throughout, in typical Veep fashion.

Plus, it does help set up the new status quo for Team Selina as ex-President Meyer is setting the pieces in place for another shot at the Presidency.  It’s an uphill battle for sure, but whether on this show or in real life, stranger things have happened in the world of politics.  Good to have you back, Veep.

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