A Look at Veep- Season 6, Episode 2: “Library”

All Presidents get their own libraries.  And now it’s Selina Meyer’s turn.  Maybe.

The episode begins at the Hughes Presidential Library and Museum, where Selina and Gary soon have a surprise visit from former President Stevenson, played by Robert Pine, who jokes about whether Selina can even have a library as opposed to a bookmobile.

Just as Richard enters to inform Selina that, per her instructions, he found photos of her, she ushers him and Gary out of the room before Stevenson realizes that they were lollygagging.

Still at the library, Selina is making plans for Andrew to move back in with her, though Gary doesn’t think that small-town America will like the ex-president living with her ex again.  But, as Selina points out, unlike small-town America, Andrew fucks her in a way that she can enjoy.  That’s nice.

However, President Montez is not present at the moment because she’s taking impromptu pictures in front of Air Force One with President Hughes and other former Presidents. Of course Selina would be left out of the loop on that one, so she ends up saddled with the First Ladies.  Selina says nuts to that and jets with Richard and Gary at her side.

On the flight, Selina tells the team that she wants and deserves her own Presidential library, never mind that she was President for less than a year.  It’s all because no one respects her, even though she was still a Congresswoman, two-term Senator, and the first female Vice President.

Going further, she decides that she wants a library and institution.  As far as location, she selects Yale for its prestige.  Prospective architects are to use the Kennedy Library as a reference point since he was a part-termer.

In Washington, Furlong shoots down Jonah’s desire for the now empty seat in the Ways and Means Committee.  For the foreseeable future, Jonah will remain on the Ethics Committee, and no one in Congress cares about Ethics.  Yeah, no kidding.  In addition, Jonah isn’t invited to Furlong’s dinner this Saturday.

At Selina’s office in New York, the former president poses for her presidential portrait, taken by Helen Wright, played by June Diane Raphael.  Andrew enters and informs Selina that the people are more interested in her library than her AIDS and literacy organization.  Also, he has a Pakistani industrialist friend who’s interested in donating $20 million if Selina gets his cousin off of the no-fly list.

Selina’s fine with that as long as said cousin doesn’t try to blow up her library.  Well, at least she has some terms for this.  After telling Richard that she wants a reflecting pool at her library, Richard tells her that Yale passed on the library due to the Sherman Tanz pardon.  Yet they still want Selina to donate their annual fund.  Very typical of a university to do.

Despite Yale passing on this, there’s still Selina’s alma mater, Smith College, which is open to exploring.  At least lesbians would know how to run a library.  Not my words.  So Smith it is.  Mike enters and asks if anyone has seen Ellen, only for her to pop out from behind the sofa, where she’s been the entire time.

At CBS, the team watches Dan’s piece on the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, and everyone’s enthused except for Jane.  She writes off the bit, but according to Stevie, Jane’s feedback could’ve been worse.  Well, at least there’s that.

Over at Jonah’s office, Kent, now joined by Ben, advise Jonah on how he can become a more appealing Congressman.  After all, Furlong invited couples, so if Jonah wants to shoot for a higher office in the long term, he’ll need a partner.  And Jonah can’t coast by on being a bachelor in D.C. because that would pretty much mean that he’s gayer than a television evangelist.

Based on Kent’s stats, though, married politicians have more sex with single women than single politicians.  Married politicians have more sex than single politicians, apparently.

At Buddy’s campaign office, Buddy and Amy watch footage of Governor Hoyt Steptoe, played by Bo Foxworth, addressing the press about the slander hurled towards his wife- slander that came straight from Buddy Calhoun’s office.  Amy cops to being behind the negative ad, but because this is Amy, she’s not bothered by it, even though Buddy now needs to reevaluate this campaign.

In Northampton, Team Selina is set to meet with the President of Smith College: Regina Pell.  Also, construction estimates are coming in at $300 million.  They could reallocate money from the Meyer Fund to the construction and shuffle around papers to make it seem like they had the money- both major felonies.

Ben and Kent present an online dating pool of D.C. women with a strong interest in marriage to Jonah in particular.  Well, a sort of strong interest, as the two had to expand to the Arlington, Alexandria, and greater Baltimore areas to find the four matches.

At Smith College, Selina and her team meet with Regina Pell, played by Laurie Garvey herself, Amy Brenneman.  Huh.  So between this and FargoThe Leftovers now has two of its characters leaving Texas for assignments.  Anyway, this library is just what the university needs, and Pell offers Selina full tenured professorship, but luckily, she won’t have to teach, even with her busy schedule.

In Pell’s office, a student journalist, Renee Holt, played by Chelsea Alden, questions Selina’s pardon of Sherman Tanz and the revelations of abuse in women’s prisons that he owns in New York, but Selina tries to change the narrative by bringing up that Tanz is a nephew of a Holocaust survivor, so he’s sensitive to prison conditions.  Tanz fired some higher-ups, but the male dominated media apparently hasn’t focused on that.

While Mike cares for one of his other kids, Andrew and Selina make plans for tonight’s fundraiser when Catherine and Marjorie come downstairs to inform everyone that they’re having a baby and will soon look for a sperm donor.  Andrew head off soon after.  Mike cautions Marjorie and Catherine about which sperm bank they choose, since some candidates can turn out to be real loons.

Date number one.  Jonah explains in full detail how a cancerous testicle is removed.  His remaining one still works at least.  He tells his date that she can get a dessert or appetizer, but not both.  After he asks the woman if she has any front and rear photos of her mother, the date heads off to go to the bathroom…in the opposite direction of the bathroom.

En route to the fundraiser, Selina worries about the idea of Catherine becoming a mother, but then Andrew’s phone notifies him that he has three text messages from Helen Wright. Maybe I’m behind on technology, but apparently phones can give you the option to hear text messages.

And that’s just what happens as we hear that Andrew and Helen have been fucking around, even in his wife’s office chair.  Now sure, that could be any wife, but Helen got hot at the thought of the President sitting in her love puddle.  A now livid Selina doesn’t want to hear another fucking word, but this revelation is all Gary needs to spring into action as he starts attacking Andrew.  Well, attacking as best as Gary can, anyway.

The fight comes to a quick stop when everyone arrives at the fundraiser.

Date number two.  Rather than Jonah telling a story, his second date, played by Erica Rhodes, describes her not-full mastectomy, and Jonah is disgusted by it.  Go figure. Naturally, she heads off to use the restroom.

That evening, Selina talks with Amy about Andrew’s behavior.  Amy doesn’t want Selina to be that wife who stands by their cheating husband, but she cuts the call with Selina short when she receives a message.  Gary tries not to gloat, though he had his suspicions about Andrew all along.

Marjorie and Catherine enter to check on Selina, who wants Catherine to tell Andrew that she fired Helen.  Catherine won’t do that, but she’s at least sorry about what her father did. Caring mother that she is, Selina tells her daughter that maybe now isn’t the time for her to have a baby.  Well, that’s awful.

Marjorie calls Selina unstable and manipulative, and she worries about those genes being passed down to her kid…but Andrew is still worse.  Some consolation prize, Marjorie. Selina temporarily allows Marjorie to call her ‘Mom,’ but that ends in a second.

The next morning, Gary helps the movers pack up Andrew’s stuff while Mike delivers bad news: Helen is going public with her firing and painting herself as the victim while Andrew pursued.  Doesn’t help that Andrew referred to his penis as the “First Chubby.”  Selina’s first instinct is to sue Helen for breach of contract since she signed an NDA, but Richard reminds Selina that Helen was never paid, so no lawsuit.

So the team heads back to Smith College and Mike becomes Selina’s Communications Director just as the team learns that the press is now angry at Selina for victim-blaming Helen for Andrew’s behavior.  Once Selina arrives at Smith, she meets an angry mob of students chanting ‘No justice, no library.’  Doesn’t roll off the tongue, but sure, I’ll take it.

This protest is even covered on CBS This Morning, where Dan announces that he’s heading to D.C. to cover the annual cleaning of the Lincoln Memorial.  He could still do without Jane in his life, though.

Regina apologizes to Selina for the protests and tells her that library is now being put on hold.  This could be fixed if Selina rehires Helen, or “Frida Swallow,” as she calls her, but to Selina, that would be like Princess Diana hiring Camilla Parker Bowles to be her limo driver.  I’d love to know how many folks missed that reference.  Regina reminds Selina that this is about her legacy, so she should at least think about it.

Selina then suggests that she and Regina go out for dinner and that if they need more time, they can go to Selina’s hotel room and have some Chardonnay.  Unfortunately, Regina is in a committed relationship.  Yeah, with a guy named Kevin.

Buddy’s day isn’t any better.  He spent a night in jail due to a DUI and the campaign team is reviewing the damning dash cam footage.  During Buddy’s drunken talk, he asks the female officer that if he took her home to bed, would she just lie there with their Blackberry and refuse to talk dirty.  Sound like anyone we know?

Date number three.  Jonah actually manages to find a connection with his new date, Crystal, played by Rena Strober, but Dan swoops in and warns Crystal to leave because of Jonah’s potential sordid actions.  This, turns out, is revenge for the interview that kept Dan at CBS and had him longing for the days of Selina Meyer.  He leaves and offers Crystal a ride home because he’s going to fuck her.  Well…go Dan, I guess?

I’m not gonna begin to wonder just how Dan knew where Jonah was at this moment. Maybe he asked Kent or Ben.

As the episode comes to a close, Helen is back at Selina’s office at work, but Smith College still said no, so Helen is fired again.

Buddy, meanwhile, apologizes for his harsh comments.  He loves women, especially his fiancé, Amy.  Of course.

There is indeed a pattern to Selina Meyer’s methods, if I can even call them methods because it often seems like she’s winging it.  But in her post-presidency phase, after Ben gave her the splash of cold water news that no one wanted a Meyer comeback, Selina is focused on her legacy.  Despite her brief tenure in office, she was still the President. The problem is that she’s seen as a footnote.

In our world, we do still revere our short term leaders.  William Henry Harrison died a few months after taking office and that’s how we remember him.  Kennedy, who Selina even references in this episode, was assassinated during his term, but he’s still held in high regard.  So as long as you make your mark and leave a lasting impression, history will remember you.

But not Selina Meyer.  She’s more of an afterthought, eve more so since she didn’t serve even a full year.  Not that Selina had much of a list of accomplishments to her name, but she still held the office and should have some semblance of respect from the public.  But this is Veep and this is Selina Meyer, so of course she’s going to struggle when she’s trying to get even the smallest win.

Case in point: the Presidential Library.  Presidents have them and people visit them. Selina feels that she deserves one, but many feel she doesn’t.  If Selina isn’t going to run for office again at the moment, she can at least cement what little legacy she has and it is an admirable move for a person so horrible.  And how awful is it that while the Presidents take a group photo, she’s stuck with the First Ladies?

It’s unfortunate that other elements either get in her way or derail what should be a smooth operation.  Whether it’s money, her husband, money management, or a pardon, Selina is plagued by errors and missteps.  Granted, she should have been wise to Andrew’s behavior, if the past is any indication, and keeping him around was no doubt going to blow up in her face.

That’s not putting the blame on Selina, but she’s seen what kind of man Andrew is and Gary’s many reactions seemed to spell out that this reunion between the two would end in disaster, and it did.

But then Veep takes it a step further with some commentary on gender politics.  How often have watched a politician sleep around, get caught, and then appear very somber in front of the cameras?  They’ll apologize, ask for forgiveness, and promise to atone for what they’ve done.  Off to the side is the spouse who must put on an appearance for the cameras, stand by their partner, for better or worse, and hold their tongue.

Sure, the media will drag the cheater across the coals and they deserve every bit of scrutiny, but there’s often commentary where we wonder why the woman would stay at her husband’s side.  It can’t just be a case of ‘Stand by your man,’ can it?  And rather than keeping the discussion on the cheater, attention shifts to the wife and her lack of response.

For the cameras, anyway, because I’m sure some of these pairs have it out once the cameras stop rolling.  Or when Gary gets tired of raging.

But I digress.  The point is that in this situation, the media focuses on Selina, not Andrew, for Helen’s firing.  I’ll give Helen credit: she managed to spin the firing and paint herself as a sympathetic victim all while sticking it to Selina, who had no grounds to sue her.

Selina is just trying to carve out her legacy, but rather than discuss that, the media vilifies her instead of the person who did the actual philandering.  And not even for the best of reasons.  Selina fired Helen.  Had she kept her around, she’d no doubt be asked why she would continue to employ the woman who slept with her husband.  And there’s no reason to keep her around, anyway.

So rather than Andrew receiving intense scrutiny, it’s Selina who gets put under the media’s microscope while Andrew, for the most part, goes without blame or injury.

This extends to the campus visit.  Though the students take issue with Selina pardoning Tanz, she manages to talk them on her side and it works.  Once Selina throws another woman under the bus, rather than celebrate Selina standing up to infidelity and refusing to just stand by her man, the women turn on her.

And they escalate the situation by yelling at and over her when she’s trying to explain the situation.  It’s a strong, yet sad, commentary on our politically correct culture, especially on college campuses.

In the other corner, you’ve got Amy, who advised Selina against becoming that wife who sticks with her husband, and by episode’s end, she becomes the very thing she hates. More so than Selina, part of this is Amy’s doing.  She sent out the negative ad on Steptoe’s wife, which led to Buddy’s bender, which led to his public apology with his faithful fiancé at his side.

Now sure, Amy didn’t make Buddy say those remarks or force him to act like a damn fool, but her actions did lead to Buddy finding his own way to reevaluate the campaign.  You’d think he would just fire her and spare himself the DUI, but that’s your bride-to-be, so of course he wouldn’t do that.

But damn, it’s tragically humorous to see Amy brought to the very position she didn’t want Selina to be.  Just like the last episode, I doubt this relationship will last long.  Not just because the show will probably find a way to bring Amy back to the rest of the team, but she doesn’t seem to be enjoying herself.

At the very least, Gary got the satisfaction of being right about Andrew, while Catherine and Marjorie get to celebrate their announcement that they’ll be having a kid.  In a show where so much goes wrong, it’s nice to savor the little things.

And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this includes giving it up to Dan.  Yeah, the guy is an asshole, but he took advantage of a bad situation and turned it in his favor.  Jonah’s meltdown kept Dan at CBS, so when he has the opportunity to travel to D.C., not only is he going to make life hell for Jonah again, but he’s going to twist the blade by swooping in, stealing, and no doubt bedding the one lady who might have been able to stomach Jonah.

Of course, if Jonah’s first two dates were any indication, the relationship wouldn’t have lasted long, if he and Crystal even made it to the bedroom.  I love watching Jonah fumble around not just with Furlong, but in his quest to become a palatable politician.  But this is Jonah, so the chances of that are slim, even when he’s actually trying which, let’s be fair, isn’t that often.

But there’s a bit of commentary here as well.  Ben and Kent point out how much more appealing Jonah would like with a romantic partner, and we do love to gush and fawn over power couples, more so in politics.  And like real life, if an attractive or noteworthy male is single or not currently dating, then we speculate that they must be gay.  Think Lindsey Graham, Jeremy Renner, or Daryl on The Walking Dead.  Makes no sense.

I enjoyed “Library” both for its humor and character moments.  At the end of the day, Selina doesn’t get her library or presidential portrait, her husband’s infidelity is public, and her legacy is still up in the air.  And much of her team isn’t fairing much better.  Selina didn’t stand by her man and she’s still paying the price. Even when she wants to do the right thing, as is often the case on Veep, Selina Meyer just can’t catch a break.

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