The sixth season of Veep premieres April 16, 10:30pm on HBO
The season five finale of Veep is potentially the saddest episode of a comedy ever. President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) loses the election, badly at that, and even her outstanding accomplishment of freeing Tibet is credited to incoming President Laura Montez. The fact that Selina won’t even be remembered as the first female President only twists the knife deeper. All this is made even more remarkable when you consider what awful people the show’s protagonists are. They are absolutely despicable, but you can’t help but care about them, and root for their win.
So, with the Meyer administration out of the White House and Veep’s original premise completely gone, what’s the next step? The show originally gave viewers a comedic look at politics from the inside, but with this drastic change of pace, Veep has trouble recalibrating.
Most of season six follows Selina’s quest to stay relevant, when in reality she barely mattered. Episode two tracks her plans for a Presidential Library, which her staff has trouble finding a campus eager to host. Then, the third installment finds Selina traveling to Georgia (the country) as part of a US delegation to protect democracy and fair elections. I’m a third into the season, and the show hasn’t picked a clear direction, instead choosing a new tragic failure for the characters each week, nothing tying them together.
Scattering the ensemble in the premiere makes sense, as all the characters have gone off in different directions since the Meyer team’s devastating loss in last season’s finale. Yet by the end of the third episode, Amy (Anna Chlumsky) still hasn’t interacted with the core cast. Instead, the writers give us lots of Ben and Kent, who have always been second-tier characters. Fan favorite Dan (Reid Scott) also barely meets with Selina and company, leaving a lot to be desired. Saving their big storylines for later down the line is a risky move that doesn’t payoff.
A recycled plot with Selina’s ex-husband Andrew was quite predictable. Perhaps the point was that Selina should have saw it coming, and yes, Andrew’s conniving ways do carry a bit more consequence this time around, but it made the entire episode feel stale. For a show trying to reinvent itself, it was an odd choice.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of funny moments and hilarious insults this season. Richard Splett (Sam Richardson) remains a highlight, as do of course Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons) and the ever-faithful Gary (Tony Hale). The incompetent Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh) doesn’t get much love at the beginning, but he’s as lovable as ever. Don’t let my critiques deride you, Veep remains one of the best comedies on TV. Compared to its previous seasons though, this year is a dud.
I can’t help but feel that after a five-time win streak, this is the year Julia Louis-Dreyfus will not be going home with an Emmy.
I give Veep‘s sixth season a B-.