When “Veep” first made its way onto the air in 2012, the political world was a wildly different place. Not only was Barack Obama POTUS, but Mitt Romney was gearing up to run against him in the general election. Since that time, politics saw the rise of President Donald Trump and a new brand of politics. No matter which side of the political spectrum you’re on, tensions have never been higher between the two parties. This is the world where Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) would have returned for the sixth season, and frankly, the show’s choices at the end of last season are paying off.
For the past five years, “Veep” has greatly benefited from the joke that government is not only ineffective but incompetent at the best of times. That was part of the hilarity that enveloped the season 5 finale, where Meyer’s administration couldn’t even secure the votes for her to return to the role of Vice President. Politicians were late to important votes, and the party in power lost despite thinking they had it locked up (sound familiar?). However, with the season 6 premiere, it’s obvious from the get-go that taking Selina out of office, and thus her staff’s incompetence away from the White House, was a strong move in the long run.
We pick up with Selina Meyer on a morning talk show, hosted by none other than “Danny” Egan (Reid Scott) months after the result of the election. We are informed that this is her first public appearance, and Dan uses this to his advantage. Smarmy as ever, he jabs her with news that the president is receiving lowball offers on her memoir, and reminds her the “Meyer years” was actually just one year. Through the interview, we get a montage of characters from the series, and we quickly begin to figure out where they have settled.
Mike (Matt Walsh) is at home, attempting to take care of his adopted family of Asian children that don’t see him as their father. Amy (Anna Chlumsky) is running a campaign for her fiancé’s gubernatorial race in Nevada. Gary (Tony Hale) and Richard Splett (Sam Richardson) are both still aides for Meyer. Jonah (Timothy Simons) is a congressman, now bald after a fight with cancer. Kent (Gary Cole) is working for Jonah, and Ben (Kevin Dunn) is now working for Uber. The team is extremely spread out, which matches the diaspora of Obama staffers to the private sector.
The episode we get is extremely funny and continues a “30 Rock“-esque, joke-per-minute pace. In fact, the episode might even outpace that, with Splett and Jonah still delivering the most laugh out loud moments. It’s an incredibly strong debut as far as humor goes. Selina even makes her daughter sob simply by saying she’s going to run for president again, a humorous moment to say the least. It’s an awesomely funny show, which seems to still have a small problem with narrative.
While last season I was frustrated with the overly focused narrative following Selina, this season they’ve spread the pieces too far. While we mostly follow Selina, there are at least four other threads running at the same time. Dan’s trying to move up at CBS News. Ben hates working for Uber. Amy’s struggling with her relationship and campaign. Jonah’s becoming a political force. If a couple of these plots were being used, the show would be fine. However, they may have thrown too much at the wall. That said, we’re in the premiere, and overall, the show’s writing is still as strong as ever. Considering how the last season ended it’s not surprising they spread so far out. Ben left Uber by the end of the episode, and Mike is now working for Selina. Expect characters to coalesce around Jonah and Selina in the coming months.
Overall, while the episode isn’t perfect, its a strong start to the season. Whether or not “Veep” can stick the landing is still up for debate. However, there is plenty of promise here for the season moving forward. The question now becomes, can “Veep” get elected to a third term as the Comedy Series champ? With a start like this, the series has a great start towards defending the title.